During the coronavirus pandemic, homebuying trends in the U.S. shifted dramatically to account for the newfound needs of remote workers. Because of the investment that recent homebuyers have put into acquiring their new space, many are reluctant to return to pre-pandemic work conditions.
In a new survey, Realtor.com learned that 62% of recent homebuyers prefer working from home — up from 52% of consumers back in the summer of 2020. Additionally, the company found that some homeowners, especially younger ones, are willing to take drastic measures to continue reaping the benefits of remote work.
Remote work during COVID-19 pandemic affecting homebuyer trends
The Realtor.com survey revealed that of the 43% of respondents that currently work full time, 60% work remotely. In both cases, younger employees make up the majority of these shares:
- Almost 60% of Gen X and millennial workers work full time, followed by 30% of Gen Z
- More than 6 in 10 Gen Z homebuyers work remotely, followed by millennials and Gen X
As a result, the needs of these generations have greatly influenced recent homebuying and remote work trends, especially as many of them begin to start families and raise children. For example, Realtor.com found that more Gen Z homeowners prefer working from home, with millennials and Gen X trailing not too far behind.
A different survey from MetLife sheds some light as to why this is the case: Younger employees appreciated working from home during the pandemic because it allowed them to improve their work-life balance, spend more time with their family and work from a better location.
In fact, younger homebuyers are even willing to buy a home farther away from their workplace if it means they can take advantage of better home values and communities. When homeowners were asked whether they would commute farther for work, respondent answers included:
- 27% of Gen Z respondents willing to do so
- 22% of millennials respondents willing to do so
- 13% of Gen X respondents willing to do so
- 3% of baby boomers respondents willing to do so
Younger homeowners are also willing to spend more time commuting than their older counterparts, with over 50% of Gen Z and millennial respondents stating they would be willing to drive over 30 minutes one way to get to work (compared with only about 30% of Gen X and 21% of baby boomers willing to do the same).
What homebuyers want in their post-pandemic work arrangements
With these findings in mind, it may come as no surprise that these new homeowners want to continue working from home in the future. After all, a recent FlexJobs survey showed that 9 in 10 remote workers have already invested in their WFH setup — with 12% spending upward of $1,000.
Although Realtor.com found that nearly 5 in 10 (48%) of remote workers have already gotten the green light to continue working from home after the pandemic, 27% say their employer has planned for a return to in-person work while another quarter haven't made their decision yet.
This news may not be what these homeowners want to hear, but almost half (48%) of these respondents are willing to at least compromise with a hybrid work arrangement. However, some respondents are considering other options, including:
- Finding a new job (23%)
- Selling their house (8%)
- Going back to the office with no other changes (30%)
Methodology: In conjunction with HarrisX, Realtor.com conducted a national online survey of 3,998 U.S. consumers from March 26-April 7, 2021. The survey results were weighted for age, gender, income, region, race and ethnicity when necessary to ensure the results reflect a nationally representative sample of adults.
Additionally, an oversample of 1,000 new homeowners who bought a home in the last 12 months was collected and weighted to align with the original sample.