Covid-19 has changed everything, and the Northern Virginia real estate market is not immune. Fairfax home buyer needs are very different this year as a result.
Despite the pandemic, real estate sales activity is elevated this year compared to last – mainly because of record low interest rates. Demand is so strong that there’s currently less than one months supply of homes for sale, making this a firm sellers market.
Home sellers that pay attention to the new buyer needs and wants are selling their homes in hours and days, compared to weeks and months for those that are slow to adapt. Let’s review the top six (6) buyer trends that are driving this market.
The home gym has surged in popularity as a direct result of Covid-19. It’s just not safe to go to the gym in this environment and home buyers still want a workout space to maintain their health.
This need goes a lot further than just plonking a treadmill in a spare bedroom. This is a dedicated space with purpose built design elements – flooring, mirrors, audio visual options, ventilation and enough room for yoga, stretching, as well as fitting in some machines like a rower or treadmill.
The trend towards open floor plans is in full reverse, especially when buyers are considering renovations of an older home. Covid-19 again has forced many of us to work and study from home, and otherwise spend less time outside of the house. Thoughtful compartmentalization of the floor plan allows the household to separate from each other and enjoy independent activities.
Another aspect to this is the trend towards carpeting or more area rugs as hardwood floors make for louder living space – a distraction and annoyance for people packed together for extended periods.
Buyers are asking for more kitchen storage. We’re cooking at home more for ourselves and dining out less – a direct response to the Covid-19 reality. This move towards increased self reliance means that we are shopping online for more items, including produce. This translates to a need for more thoughtful and practical storage, primarily in the kitchen.
Gardening may have just become America’s new favorite pastime. Not only is it great therapy to be outside in the comfort and safety of your own space, but working in nature and digging your hands into soil has positive practical outcomes. Home buyers want to be able to beautify their homes and plant vegetables, again in an effort to control their surroundings and increase their perception of self sufficiency.
Home buyer need #2 is an extension of #3, immediately making it clear that safe outdoor space is in high demand. Buyers want expansive outdoor space.
The back yard does not need to be fully landscaped, but have the potential to be developed. Motivated home buyers are just want to be outside while minimizing the risk of Covid-19 exposure. They are wanting to thoughtfully develop the space by creating purpose designed areas or outdoor rooms. The creative use of pathways and other hardscaping, plus lawns and gardens are key to this. You don’t need a landscape architect to put all this together, but a landscaping contractor could certainly speed these projects to completion.
The most asked for feature now is the home office. Buyers are paying a premium for space that allows them to work remotely in home comfort. Similarly, the need for students to take online classes in an environment that promotes learning is also in demand. Needs obviously include a quiet space, but also good lighting and acoustics for video conferencing.
Buyer trends have radically evolved from earlier preferences for open floor plans, and the old real estate mantra of location location, location does not necessarily apply. Buyers are increasingly at ease with a longer commute if they are travelling to the office a few days a week or month. The ability to work from home and enjoy the outdoors in safety are paramount. Home sellers that can deliver these features are enjoying this strong market and receiving multiple offers in short time, with very few contingencies.