Extra space for extended family and pets and a home office have risen to the top of wishlists among house hunters. And that desire for more space is driving many home buyers’ decision to purchase a new home in the coming year, according to a new realtor.com® survey of 1,200 home shoppers.
Also, the eagerness for greater outdoor space is prompting terms like “fenced yard,” “acres,” “backyard,” “front porch,” “garage,” and “three-car garage” to see an increase in realtor.com® searches over the past year. Since more households became pet owners during the pandemic, the term “pet friendly” has also significantly increased in searches.
“The COVID pandemic ushered in a new way of thinking about what home means, and that is influencing much of what today’s home shoppers are looking for,” says George Raitu, realtor.com®’s senior economist. “Garages, large backyards, and space for pets always rank high on buyers’ wish lists, but those features have grown in importance. The survey results highlight that the pandemic has elevated our relationship with family as well as the need for our home to serve multiple purposes, especially the ability to work remotely. As a result, we are placing a premium on the need to accommodate extended family, and features like a home office and broadband internet.”
Buyers reported that the following 10 home features have become a priority as a result of the pandemic:
- Quiet location: 28%
- Updated kitchen: 25%
- Garage: 24%
- Large backyard: 24%
- Outdoor living area: 20%
- Space for pets: 18%
- Updated bathrooms: 19%
- Home office: 17%
- Broadband internet capabilities: 17%
- Open floor plan: 16%
What’s more, 65% of buyers surveyed said they were considering their extended family when they shopped for a home. Nearly a quarter said they planned to buy near family members. One-fifth of respondents said they would have extended family living with them full-time. Thirty percent said their new home would need to accommodate extended family staying with them part-time or visiting.
On the other hand, some home items have seen a decrease in importance since the pandemic—notably the need for a short commute time. Also, a home with smaller square footage is also in less demand since the pandemic, the survey showed.
“Remodeled” homes dropped 88% year-to-date through May. “It appears that motivated buyers are making concessions in their home search” as home prices rise, the report notes. Fewer searches are occurring for otherwise popular features such as granite countertops (down 58%), theater/media rooms (down 65%), and bars (down 52%).
Buyers may be getting more realistic heading into the housing market, knowing that they might not be able to get everything on their wish list. When they were asked to select which features they’d be willing to sacrifice if they had to reduce their budget, the following home amenities would be among the first to go:
- Pool/spa: 24%
- Man cave: 24%
- Guest house: 23%
- Mother-in-law suite: 23%
- New construction: 22%
- Solar panels: 21%
- Finished basement: 20%
- Home office: 18%
- Large backyard: 17%
- Guest room: 17%
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Source: National Association of Realtor