The pandemic demanded everyone immediately pivot to working at home and virtually attending school. Real estate agents suddenly needed to change their marketing and networking habits and rely more heavily on technology than in the past. And while some pandemic-related adjustments lasted for a short time, the pandemic's collective experience will undoubtedly have some long- lasting impacts on real estate.
Pandemic impacts on real estate
The pandemic accelerated some trends that were already gaining momentum before the virus hit, while other changes began with the onset of the COVID-19 outbreak. Here are some of the long- term effects to the industry:
1. Virtual tours and sight-unseen purchases are here to stay.
Buyers have relied on professional photos and videos of homes for years to narrow their choice of homes. Some buyers have even purchased homes without seeing them in person. The pandemic’s social distancing requirements meant every agent needed to ramp up their virtual tours and virtual open houses. Now that more buyers and agents are comfortable with the technology and the value of seeing things virtually first, they’re more likely to use them to preview homes and to choose to visit fewer properties physically.
2. Consumers expect to rely on technology throughout every transaction.
Uploading documents for a mortgage and exploring homes online have become commonplace. Now buyers are likely to push for a completely online experience, including virtual closings. Technologies such as electronic signatures or e-signing have proven to be enormous time-savers for agents and consumers.
3. Location priorities have changed.
Now that more companies intend to continue allowing employees to work from home full-time or spend fewer days in the office, buyers are less tied to a location requiring an easy commute or being near public transit. At least, for now, suburbs, small towns and rural areas are seeing renewed interest that could be long lasting.
4. Space for work and privacy at home have become top requirements.
While open floor plans continue to be popular, buyers and homeowners also want at least one space — and sometimes more — for a home office or a private place to make important phone calls. Nooks, family foyers and lofts are being transformed into usable space for working, reading or doing homework.
5. Homeownership is more desirable than ever.
After a brief pause, the surge of buyer demand demonstrated the desirability of homeownership — particularly for renters who want to own their property to have more privacy and control over their living space. The appeal of living with hundreds of other renters in an apartment complex — despite attractive community amenities, such a pool or clubhouse — is suddenly reduced.
6. Outdoor space has become more valuable.
The phrase “I’ll never live without a balcony again” trended on Twitter during the pandemic. That’s just one example of the importance of private outdoor space for everyone. Indoor-outdoor living has been a trend for at least a decade, but the shift to spending more hours at home has made personal outdoor space even more cherished.
While, someday, real estate agents will be able to shake hands and socialize as they did in the past, some changes to their business and to the homes they sell are likely to stay around for the long haul.