The home is evolving. As you're spending more time at home this year, you might also be realizing the current layout is not conducive to your end-of-day call or that there's no place in the kitchen for your spices. This might make you consider rearranging your home or even putting it on the market. To find out how the pandemic is changing our homes and just what home buyers want now, we spoke toMarie Buonforteof Century 21 New Millennium about the surprising home trends of 2020.
A staple in popular home redesign shows, the open floor plan offers a larger living space by combining many areas of the home – kitchen, living room, and dining room – into one. However, Marie suspects this all-in-one space might become a feature of the past. "With the open floor plan, you have a lot of noise in the house," says Marie, who has more than six years of experience in the real estate industry. "Kitchen noise travels across the first floor and even through walls." To create private areas in which to work and live, some homeowners are buying screens and sectioning off rooms, so they can have a quiet space to work.
With indoor dining limited in certain areas of the country, many homeowners are spending more time in the kitchen and more time cooking. That means your spice rack might be making a comeback. "One of the considerations that home buyers have now are pantry and cabinet space," says Maire. "We're not eating out as much. We're doing a lot more cooking in the home, so we are purchasing more groceries." Home buyers will then need a place to store all their groceries, like a walk-in pantry. Likewise, many homeowners are purchasing more small appliances or kitchen gadgets, which also require storage space. "Ample storage in a kitchen area has become more important than ever," says Marie.
In search of more privacy and quiet places, homeowners are looking at all the space in the home and seeing how they can best use it. One of the most overlooked areas is the outdoor space. "We're seeing a lot of folks are reclaiming some of their outdoor area to make it a more livable space," says Marie. "Maybe they're going to have a screened-in porch added to their house or a nice patio." An especially hot item to have right now is the fire pit.
"Because people are spending more time at home, they're doing things like being outside with their friends," notes Marie. "Around a fire pit, having a drink in the evening and lighting the fire – it's allowing people to have a community with their friends and do it in an appropriate way with social distancing." Homeowners are also purchasing nicer furnishings for a porch or patio because these areas can double as office space. With a robust Wi-Fi connection, your porch or patio can also work well for at-home students. "Kids can go to school at a table on the screened-in porch," says Marie. "Homeowners are definitely using all of the space they have in the house and also extending into the backyard."
"People are looking for homes that can provide them with the kind of space to have privacy and quiet for a home office," says Marie, who has seen some home buyers search for more than one home office. Finished basements have served as a popular alternative for a home office, though an additional bedroom can serve as both a guest room and office space. Most buyers at least look for a home with small spaces, such as a nook, a corner of a room, or even a closet that they can turn into a second home office.
"Oftentimes we have two members of the family who are working from home, and they need to be in separate spaces, especially for video calls," says Marie. "They need to be able to both speak privately and without interruption but also have a background or be in a room that's presentable." In addition, the school year has started and with many parents working from home, homeowners and buyers need the luxury of additional space. Explains Marie, "They can turn it into a classroom or multipurpose, so the kids can be in an area where they're also online and doing work."
As many potential buyers leave larger cities like New York and San Francisco for suburban housing, Marie has a few pointers for how home sellers can stage their home effectively in today's competitive market. First, it's important to showcase a home office. "A very positive thing we've seen is showing an extra room as a home office rather than a fifth bedroom," says Marie. "Also, if they have a master suite that has a sitting room, showing that sitting area as a home office has been very beneficial." Marie has also seen homeowners use IKEA furnishings or just shelving and cabinetry that's not necessarily built-in, to highlight a space.
"It's a less costly way and certainly less time-consuming to complete," says Marie. If you're a DIY master or want to hire a contractor for a home renovation, then adding built-ins is a great way to improve the space and increase the value of your home. However, in the short term – "Just buying bookcases or bookshelves, or even that old-fashion piece of furniture called the secretary, has been very popular," says Marie.
If you're looking for a home with office space, search for one of the options Marie mentioned above – an extra bedroom, a furnished basement, a corner of your bedroom, or even a nook. (Our Director of Partnerships' favorite working area is her walk-in closet.) However, here is one tidbit you might not have thought of before. "When I'm showing a buyer a home, I always say to my clients, 'Take out your cell phone and see what your coverage is like here,'" says Marie.