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Could COVID-19 change homebuyer preferences?

by Meg White

Could COVID-19 change homebuyer preferences?

With open houses canceled across the country and many brokerages switching to virtual showings, it’s clear that the way people experience homes on the market is already influenced by the COVID-19-related restrictions blanketing much of the country. But also, it’s possible that the experience of spending so much time at home will change the way people feel about houses in general.

That’s the theory behind Coldwell Banker’s recent survey of 549 of its agents across the nation. While nearly 40% of respondents predicted no real change in terms of how the increased time at home will impact consumer real estate preferences, the majority did foresee some fallout when it comes to client behavior. Forty-one percent of agents predicted more people will seek out homes that have office space included, 26% think the market will see increased interest in rural areas, and 24% believe buyers will look for homes with private outdoor spaces.

Smaller shares of respondents mentioned an increased interest in the suburbs (13%), a boost in the popularity of walkable downtowns (9%) and an increased interest in homes that have space for a personal gym (9%).

The survey was more clear-cut on the idea that the day-to-day activities of most agents are changing in response to the virus. Nearly 90% of respondents reported that the pandemic had already had an impact on their business.

In terms of what agents are actually doing with their time, only 13% reported that their activity mix was the same now as it was before the novel coronavirus outbreak. Education and training was the No. 1 activity that respondents reported focusing on, followed by administrative tasks and branding work. Prospecting came in a close fourth, while virtual open houses and virtual closings trailed in at the end.

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