COVID Inspired Change in Home Design

by Todd Sumney

Companies, real estate agents and entire industries are adapting quickly to match homebuyers’ needs and desires that are radically different from what they were just a year ago . . .

Consumers and businesses alike have been forced to adapt and change how they live and work due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Some would say that most of this evolution and change has taken place in our homes, because that is now the place where we do everything and spend the majority of our time — if not all of our time. 

This has caused a major shift in the interior design, real estate and homebuilding/remodeling industries as today’s consumers want — and now need — more home, more space, more technology and more features than ever before. Thanks to 10 years of home equity plus the lowest interest rates in decades, many consumers are making those wants and needs a reality.

Consumers need multiple home offices — one for each family member who is working from home permanently, plus dens and computer areas for children to take classes online; all in addition to the usual bedrooms needed. Plus, these offices will need to be permanent work offices equipped with Ethernet, USB and multiple-plug outlets in walls. This isn’t just a corner of the home made into a makeshift office. Many families are also looking for casitas, guest houses or additional bedrooms for older parents who have now moved in permanently due to COVID-19.

Wide-open areas where Wi-Fi can travel easily are now necessities, not amenities. Most importantly, soundproofing, thick walls and solid-wood doors have taken higher priority, especially in homes with large families that are now filled to capacity at all times. 

People are looking for spaces that positively affect mental health and help both adults and children with their work, school and life balance. For example, bright sunlit rooms with multiple large windows that bring the outside in while someone is working or learning at home, or bay-windows with padded sitting areas for children to relax or for adults to take a coffee-break, are sought-after spaces.

After work and school hours, consumers want home gyms, wine-tasting rooms and bar areas, large kitchens, home-movie theaters, man caves, she sheds, basements and game rooms. Additionally, pools, gazebos, BBQ areas, fire pits, outdoor eating and sitting areas, as well as patios or yards with safe fenced-in spaces that are safer alternatives than leaving the home are top on consumers’ lists. 

Add in smart amenities, touchless technology and voice-activated controls in our appliances, wall switches and consumer electronic controls to lessen the spread of germs and create relaxing hands-free environments.

The consumer’s needs have changed since the pandemic began, and so have the strategies and deliverables of the companies and industries that serve them.   

Todd Sumney is chief industry officer with HomeSmart International.

Did you Know: According to JLL’s Q3 Phoenix Office Insight Report, the Phoenix market posted just over 300,000 square feet of positive absorption during the third quarter and average asking rents increased from $28.05 in Q2 to $28.29 in Q3. Office activity remains slower than this time last year, with tenants seeing more landlord concessions, under-construction space holding steady at just under 1.9 million square feet, and no new projects breaking ground. 

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