The pandemic has transformed the way consumers live and work, and it's also having an effect on the types of houses they buy, new research suggests.
More than half of consumers — 53% — said they would prefer buying a house with a dedicated home office space to purchasing a home with an extra bedroom, according to a survey by the housebuilder PulteGroup.
That finding and others suggest some consumers expect the pandemic's effects to be felt for some time to come.
Remote working becoming the new normal
Even before the pandemic hit, many businesses were increasing the number of remote opportunities their companies offered. However, the COVID-19 outbreak forced many companies to speed up plans to expand their remote workforce.
On top of that, a 2020 survey found that three-quarters of human resources leaders expected their companies to keep teleworking even after the end of the pandemic.
The PulteGroup survey suggests that consumers are also anticipating having the option to keep working from home. On top of the 53% who would opt for a home office over an extra bedroom, another 28% of respondents said they would want both a home office and an extra bedroom in any future purchased home.
Nearly three-fourths of respondents — 74% — said it was "very important" that their houses be wired for Wi-Fi, while another 24% said Wi-Fi capability was "somewhat important."
A home office was even considered more important than a yard for many respondents, as 46% said a home office or workspace was the most important dedicated space they would look for when buying a house, followed by 42% who said outdoor/yard space. Twelve percent said a dedicated workout or fitness space was most important to them, perhaps signaling a preference for working out at home rather than at a gym because of the pandemic.
Home buyers look to safety features
Increasing the ventilation inside buildings is believed to help curb the spread of the coronavirus, and some consumers may be looking to buy a house that facilitates more freely moving air.
Among those surveyed, 64% said they would rather buy a house with an open-concept floor plan that features a kitchen, dining room and family room integrated into a large great room, while 36% said they would prefer a traditional floor plan that featured defined and enclosed rooms.
Consumers also expressed an interest in other features that might lower the risk of coronavirus transmission. When asked which features specifically were most important when buying a house, in light of the pandemic:
- 35% said they wanted enhanced Wi-Fi capabilities
- 29% said they most valued easy-to-clean surfaces
- 18% said they wanted advanced filtration systems for water and air
- 9% put the highest priority on hands-free, contactless appliances
- 5% said they most valued having a dedicated space for package deliveries
- 4% said they’d like a refill station for water bottles
Methodology: PulteGroup commissioned market research firm MKM Quantitative Survey Group to survey 1,000 consumers of different ages and income levels and across demographic and gender lines. The survey was conducted in 2020 to see how the pandemic has affected homebuying preferences.