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There are many ways in which the COVID-19 pandemic has affected our lives, but one of the most obvious is that it has contained us in our homes — maybe for months.
While life on lockdown will eventually end, a calamity of this scale means lasting, permanent changes in the way we work and live. Just as the Great Depression gave rise to a “waste not, want not” generation, the coronavirus has given rise to a “work from home” revolution that’s likely to stick around in one form or another. And that, among other factors, is likely to shape what buyers want in a home.
1. Home office
At the top of the new wants list of many homebuyers will be a dedicated home office. Remodeling site Houzz recently polled its community of homeowners and design professionals and found that the majority of respondents (55%) have a home office, but a quarter (25%) work from their dining or kitchen table, with one in ten laboring from the sofa (11%).
According to the poll, top challenges associated with unexpectedly working from home in light of the coronavirus pandemic include: Finding a private or quiet location away from high-traffic living areas (30%), securing a computer with a strong Wi-Fi connection (25%) and creating a comfortable workspace (25%).
With that in mind, sellers marketing homes without dedicated offices need to get creative. You may not need to create a fully fledged office, but you do need to stay at the forefront of what homebuyers will be looking for. Here are some ideas:
- Carve out an office space in a nook or entryway.
Turn a hall closet into an office by adding built-ins.
Install a vanity cutout on the periphery of the kitchen, in a pantry or wet bar area.
Utilize unused space like an upstairs landing or underneath a staircase.
Make the dining room do double duty.
Reimagine the master bedroom as a multi-function room.
2. Private outdoor space
Showcasing outdoor space has always been important, but thanks to social distancing, it’s now a top priority. Outdoor space defines the kind of lifestyle you can have, and are now more of a priority to homebuyers than in previous years.
We recommend focusing on one of two things when it comes to outdoor space: entertaining or family time. While family-friendly outdoor spaces outfitted with pools, fire pits and bbq areas are obviously appealing, condos and townhomes with limited outdoor space require a little more imagination.
For a condo with a small balcony, having two chairs and a small table with a bottle of wine is nice. If you have outdoor space off the kitchen and facing the back of the building, then add a grill and eating area.”
Keep the furniture mostly neutral and add pops of color with pillows or cushions and flowers. You’re not selling the furniture, you’re selling the experience. Outdoor lighting, rugs and plants will add a sense of luxury and help create an emotional connection that’s particularly important right now.
Often the main point of entry between the garage and the kitchen and a depository for coats, shoes and sports gear, the mudroom has taken on new importance during the COVID-19 pandemic as a decontamination station.
But what if there’s no mudroom? An easy solution can often be found in the garage.
Consider putting in some type of bench with cubbies for boots and shoes as close to the doorway as possible along with some disinfectant wipes for door handles. Installing a pegboard wall is another cheap and easy solution. You can hang bins to hold packages, install shelves too. While the garage is probably one of the best places, if that’s not available, try to carve out some space on the front porch or front entryway.
Throughout history, how we inhabit physical space has been a primary defense against epidemics, and this time is no different. We’re going to see people come out of this with a much better understanding of lifestyle and awareness of what they’re looking for in a home. Learning to rework space makes all the difference in the world. Getting professional help from a home stager is likely to as well.