8 New Things That Will Take Priority When Shopping for a Home

Homebuyers who enter the market after the risk of COVID-19 has diminished will have a whole new set of priorities for their home search.

U.S. News & World Report

8 New House Hunting Priorities

Hallway with an open door to a living room with an antique stove and chest.

Quarantines due to the coronavirus pandemic have given many people new priorities for their next home, including plenty of natural light and space for privacy from the rest of the family.(Getty Images)

There's no doubt that the coronavirus pandemic has changed our way of life. It's shifted our priorities in everything from work to love. Even once the virus subsides, the effects of this experience will be long-lasting.

In particular, sheltering in place has made us think about the concept of home in a new light. There's little doubt that homebuyers who enter the market after the risk of COVID-19 is in the rearview mirror will have a whole new set of priorities in place for their home search.

Here are eight priorities you can expect to become prevalent in future home searches:

  • Light and space.
  • Space for cooking.
  • The quest for privacy.
  • Energy efficiency.
  • Space for working out.
  • Outdoor space.
  • Home office space.
  • Less focus on building amenities.

Let There Be Light (and Space)

When city dwellers who never spent much time at home were expected to make their homes their sole destination, many quickly discovered a newfound appreciation for sunlight and living space. It wouldn't be surprising to see a lot of studio apartment dwellers hoping to upgrade to larger abodes in the months following the pandemic. In general, expect a trend toward light-filled, airy homes with views of something other than the neighboring alley.

Cooking with Ease

If social media is any indication, there are a lot of us becoming newly acquainted with our kitchens as the virus has eliminated the ability to go out to eat, and even trimmed our takeout options. While kitchens are often called the heart of the home, after we've grown accustomed to cooking several meals a day, expect a continued trend toward large open kitchens where families can gather to cook together. A pantry and abundant cabinet space will be critical for storing large quantities of food and easy-to-use, efficient appliances will make the entire process – from prep to clean-up – a breeze.

Privacy, Please

Anyone sheltering in place with loved ones knows that privacy is precious these days. Those who once considered separate bedrooms for each kiddo a luxury might have a new set of priorities in a post-coronavirus world. Even a den, bonus room or finished basement can be a boon when family members need a timeout from non-stop family time.

Energy Efficiency

People who normally spend long hours away from home might be surprised to see a bump in their utility bills during shelter-in-place. Working from home, cooking more often and binge-watching Netflix all adds up in terms of electricity, water and gas use, and even trash collection. As temperatures get warmer, the impact on electric bills will be even more apparent. Future homebuyers would do well to consider the energy efficiency of their new house, and even small touches like proper weatherstripping and double-pane windows can lead to sizable savings.

Staying Fit While Staying Home

For many in quarantine, a significant decrease in activity is more than a vanity issue – it's a mental health issue. While a home gym fully stocked with the latest equipment is a dream-home scenario, a small space with a TV, floor mats and weights can still provide a much-needed break during tense times.

DIY Outdoor Space

Private outdoor space is a godsend when leaving your home can seem downright dangerous. Even a small balcony provides the ability to bask in sunlight and fresh air. Those with larger yards will feel especially grateful that kids and pets have space to stretch their legs. One thing to keep in mind for expansive yards, however, is the ability to maintain them if service providers are unable to visit your home. States and municipalities have disagreed when it comes to designating landscapers and pool maintenance providers as essential, so homeowners should be prepared to handle basic tasks on their own.

Working From Home With Ease

Well before COVID-19, the American workforce had been leaning toward freelance work and jobs that can be done, at least part-time, from home. Now that shelter-in-place orders have made long-term working from home a necessity for many, homeowners will be on the lookout for properties that effortlessly accommodate business needs. This will usually start with a private, quiet space for an office or dedicated work area. Technology is also crucial, so homes with ample electrical outlets and high-speed Wi-Fi equipment or hardwired Ethernet connections will earn high marks.

Rethinking Amenities

In luxury multifamily buildings, an ever-growing list of lavish common amenities used to lure buyers. Unfortunately, many of these amenities, including fitness centers, pools, lounges and children's playrooms, were among the first things shut down during quarantine. What amenities remain valuable in a pandemic? A doorman to accept deliveries, storage for stowing supplies, parking for easy essential trips and multiple elevator banks for social distancing.

Life after the coronavirus pandemic will no doubt require a long period of economic recovery and personal adjustment. For many, new homes to suit our new normal will be the first step in that transition.

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