Home Buyers’ Behaviors Emerging from COVID-19: Newly Developed Behavioral Patterns

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September 10, 2020
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The housing market has seen rises in existing home sales with competitive prices, as a result of the recent pandemic. (Read more: Contract Signings Make a ‘Remarkable’ Move and Existing-Home Sales Surge to Record Pace in June)

The National Association of REALTORS® researchers reported changes in buyer and seller behaviors during the COVID-19 health crisis. During a virtual conference by the NAR’s vice president of demographics and behavior insights Jessica Lautz,“REvive! From Crisis,” a group of real estate agents and industry leaders highlighted and shared the following themes:

1. Hurried Buyers

With recent changes in the housing market, prospective new home owners are more eager to cut a deal on their desired home. It took an average of 9 home tours last summer before buyers decided to make the purchase, prior to even writing an offer. More recently buyers seem to spend less time touring homes, developing the desire to purchase or sell earlier. In comparison to last summer, buyers looked at half the amount of homes within a 30 day period. Buyers are moving quickly through the home-buying process, especially those wanting to live in rural areas. If you are thinking about selling your home and would like a no cost obligation home evaluation, visit this page to get started.

2. Buyer Preferences are Shifting

NAR research indicates that buyers have prioritized the similar home features throughout the years; however, a main feature that has recently risen in importance is a home office. Since many jobs have shifted to working from home, home offices have become a necessity in households. Some may even need more than one!  

Not only that, but working from home has allowed families to spend more time together, growing preferences for bigger familial spaces. Nowadays, home buyers are leaning towards homes with larger outdoor areas, opening up the opportunities for a garden, a fire pit, or simply more space to relax and bond with the family.

3. Travel Time: Not a big concern lately

As more people continue remotely, people are spending more time at home and less time on the road. This gives buyers the freedom to home hunt beyond the bounds of commute. In a survey conducted by NAR of 2,300 REALTORS®, 22% claim that travel time is less of a priority for buyers, when shopping for a home.  

Buyers are now starting to shift their search locations from urban-city living towards smaller, suburban towns. The good news is that this tactic may offer more affordable housing for some. For others, it also provides more stylistic housing options to choose from, such as a larger yard or more square footage.

4. Growing Emphasis on a Family Oriented Environment

Families are starting to come together during the pandemic, putting generations of family members under the same roof. With this trend, it is becoming more common for home buyers to be looking for larger, sizable living spaces that can accommodate grandparents, grown children, or extended family. 

In the past, some of the main reasons for moving involved getting a new job, marriage, or raising a new family. Nowadays a majority of home-movers are young people with strong familial ties. Surveys show that this generation places high-value in their relationships with family and friends, causing a desire to live closer to their family. 

Pets are part of the family and are important factors to consider when purchasing a new home

5. Pets can influence purchase decisions

Households are leaning to pets as a way of comfort during the pandemic. For some, pets are part of the family and are important factors to consider when purchasing a new home. Some homes may be too small or lack a large enough front yard, easily swaying a buyer’s home selection. NAR surveys have shown that they can heavily influence a buyer’s decision, reporting that 43% of households would move to a home that would better accommodate their pet. 

6. a wave of first-time buyers could emerge

Newer trends of home buyers are developing, as the search for a home is no longer just limited to families and newly-weds. Many young couples choose to move in together prior to marriage, increasing the pool of unmarried couples in the housing market by 17%, as reported by NAR. There is also a rise in friends, roommates, and post-grads looking to split the cost and purchase a home together. Despite making up only 4% of the consumer base, Lautz notes that it is the highest record of its demographic. With the continuing transition to online learning and closure of school dorms and housing, there is the possibility for this demographic to expand in the future.

7. Sellers are moving sooner

As the pandemic continues and cities urge people to stay-at-home, consumers may start to wonder if their home fulfills their current needs. They may wonder if their home is located in a pleasant enough area or if the surrounding amenities satisfy the need for self-entertainment. With interest rates at an all-time-low, buyers may want to move and find a home that promotes work productivity and familial enjoyment: the ideal family home.

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