What Builders Need to Know About New Home Comfort in a Post-COVID Market
Coronavirus has Americans working, learning and living entirely from home. And self-quarantine has accelerated existing plans to move. The pandemic has changed a lot about our society, including what buyers are looking for in new home comfort.
Home sales in the US reached a 13-year high in
June and homebuilding is rebounding even stronger. There’s a potential demand
for 2.1 million new homes across the country.
As a builder, it’s important to know what
people are looking for in a new home as we adjust to the "new
normal". Here are some of the features that are at the top of homebuyers'
A major concern these days is keeping surfaces
sanitary. Homeowners get excited when choosing countertops, but sterilization
now takes precedence over looks. When building brand-new custom homes, picking
the most hygienic countertop is essential.
A study by Best American Living revealed 60%
of Millennials and 78% of Gen-X’ers would pay extra for germ-resistant
Though granite has been become less popular in
recent years, it's a sanitary choice. Often overlooked is the importance of
re-sealing granite every few years. Regular maintenance is key to getting the
most out of the high cost of granite.
Quartz and solid-surface tops are hygienic as well. Unlike granite, they're not 100% natural, so they can be more affordable.
Stainless steel has been a staple in
commercial kitchens for a long time, and for good reason. They actually repel
germs & bacterial growth. While stainless hasn't been popular for
residential use, it would be smart to consider.
Wood countertops are often considered unsanitary,
but that's a misconception. Wood's natural properties kill bacteria. Though
they need regular maintenance, wood countertops are very easy to clean. They
can also be far less expensive than other options.
2. Drop Zones
Builders have been well-aware of the desirability of a “mud-room” off the garage for decades. Now a separate laundry room is more important than ever.
Drop zones used to cater to the needs of a busy family for ease of ingress and egress from the home. The new goal of a drop zone is to contain and sterilize, preventing the spread of germs.
COVID has made people realize that all
entrances to the home need drop zones of some form. The 1918 flu pandemic
introduced the “powder room” to society. It seems COVID will affect home design
in similar ways.
The new standard will be to position powder
rooms and/or drop zones near all entryways.
3. Smart & Touchless
Smart home technology has been on the rise
over the past 5 years and is now considered a basic necessity.
Touchless faucets and voice-operated
appliances provide obvious advantages. Bidet sales exploded in the US as a
result of the toilet paper shortage. Next on the horizon could be floors and
mirrors that check vitals.
There are exciting home comfort innovations on the horizon, and builders have to adapt. Though we can't predict the future, try to accommodate fixtures a homeowner may want to add in the future.
4. Improved Air Quality & Non-Toxic Materials
People are shelling out money for top-of-the-line air and water filtration systems. 66% of homeowners would spend an extra $1,000 on a new home with whole-house air filtration (up 56% from last year).
Access to fresh air is essential, creating more opportunity for indoor/outdoor spaces.
The push for eco-friendly building materials has gained steam due to
Coronavirus. General wellbeing is paramount, so materials used to build the
home are under increased scrutiny.
Flexibility & Functionality
Open concept floor plans are hugely popular. Most think this would continue after the pandemic, but that’s not necessarily the case. Though open floor plans allow for social distancing, they can make things harder, too.
With no dividing walls, it can be difficult
for multiple people to perform different functions or isolate for health
reasons. In response, there's an increased demand for modular space.
Solutions that allow for beautiful open floor
plans and division of space when needed are especially desirable.
2. Necessary Rooms
Gone are the days where a home office was an
afterthought. As companies warm to the idea of permanent work-from-home, buyers
are more likely to need a place to work. Further, it's becoming more common for
homeowners to look for more than one home office.
Builders should consider converting loft
space, bonus rooms and basements for this purpose. Modifying existing floor
plans altogether to incorporate more closed-off rooms may be necessary.
Along with multiple offices, parents may also
need rooms dedicated to homeschooling. It’s important to have a room apart from
a child’s bedroom or playroom for learning.
Home gyms are another necessity that was
previously considered a luxury. Gyms have been some of the slowest businesses
to re-open, for obvious reasons. Getting into a workout routine after
stress-eating for months is now a common concern.
Re-imagining floor plans to include more rooms, or more space in general, is important for home comfort moving forward.
Location, Location, Location
1. Migration to the Suburbs
American cities have become epicenters due to
close living quarters and heavy travel. Thousands of people are fleeing major
Though they're leaving the city, these buyers
cling to the feeling of city living.
Residential developments have begun marketing themselves as “urbanized suburbs” to attract former city-dwellers. They're offering amenities like paved streets, restaurants, hotels, office buildings and apartment-style living.
Outdoor malls are exploring this trend as
well, creating simulated “downtowns” within their complexes for a city feel.
One thing city folk desire in a new home is space for a garden, access to fresh produce and agrotourism.
Though young people enjoyed urban living, they have longed for room to grow their own food. They also want increased access to fresh produce and to feel a connection with where their food is grown.
During the pandemic people weren’t able to get
to grocery stores as often and farmers' markets had shut down. This combined
with the growing local food movement makes access to fresh food essential.
Having unfettered access to nature in general is important. When you're outdoors, it's easier to social distance and less necessary to wear a mask. This provides opportunity for exercise and increases health and well-being. Upheaval in society inevitably leads to major changes in home building. Though times are uncertain, we'll monitor emerging trends in home comfort to help you stay relevant.