When COVID-19 hit, it turned our world upside down and changed the way we view our homes. Suddenly, home was more than just a place to stay and sleep, it became everything – work, school, the movie theater, the gym, the restaurant.
While all of us are no longer stuck in mandated quarantine, it remains a possibility. And for many, whether for health or travel reasons, it is still a necessary precautionary reality. Home remains a hub for social distancing and staying healthy.
As a result, homes and consumer preferences have changed quite a bit over the course of a few months and will continue to evolve in the coming year. Here is what it means for the future of homebuying and selling.
How Homebuying Is Changing
“While the coronavirus still rages on, it’s hard to predict what post-pandemic abodes might look like. Yet, developers around the U.S. are already rethinking projects, anticipating residents’ needs and preferences that COVID-19 would spur,” according to Barron’s.
If you watched a home renovation show any time in the past few years, you know that smaller homes and open concept spaces conducive to gathering were at the top of everyone’s list. But after spending a few months confined in close quarters, those features do not seem as appealing.
Larger homes may begin to trend upward, while the open floor plan, which was already starting to lose steam in 2020, is expected to continue to trend down, according to Monica Gannon, realtor for Keller Williams Greater Nassau Realty based in Garden City, N.Y.
Between remote work, virtual schooling and cooking more meals at home, it seems we might have underestimated the importance of personal space.
“Sharing more time and space at home demands privacy for schoolwork, hobbies and entertainment,” said Gannon. “Builders expect a rise in demand for closed floor plans, where rooms are partitioned for purpose.”
Other priorities for homebuyers include a functional home office space and germ-conscious smart technologies like touchless faucets and voice-controlled temperature and light panels.
Home Insurance Considerations
With more people spending time at home and many out of work, now is a perfect opportunity to review your assets and ensure your home or renters insurance provides sufficient coverage for unexpected and expensive threats such as theft or extreme weather.
This is also a great time to keep up with home maintenance or make home improvements. Especially ahead of Atlantic hurricane season, from June through the end of November, be sure to stay on top of trimming back any large tree limbs that are overhanging or near your home.
The most common claims AAA Insurance sees are losses resulting from falling trees or tree limbs and power outages. “A commonly overlooked coverage related to prolonged power loss is food spoilage coverage,” said Ray Eng, vice president of insurance sales for AAA Northeast.
If you have made significant improvements to your home during this time, consult with your agent to make sure your homeowner policy is still valuing your home appropriately. Give your insurance agent a call and he or she will review your policy for any coverage gaps and search for missing discounts or opportunities to save.
Mortgage rates are at historic lows, according to Steven Vieira, director of mortgage operations and sales for AAA Northeast, “which means buyers can afford an upgraded home without eating into their housing budget.” Unfortunately for homebuyers, this also means that there are fewer homes available on the market, as would-be sellers have held off.
Vieira stresses that now, more than ever, it is important for homebuyers to get prequalified before they start shopping for a home. “Home inventories are extremely tight, which means it’s a seller’s market in most areas. This creates a situation where if you find the home you love, you risk losing it if you don’t have your financing ready to go,” he said.
Financing a home during a pandemic presents more challenges for those who may have experienced a financial impact. The best thing to do is consult with an experienced mortgage professional that can help you determine what mortgage product is the best fit for your situation.
Home may be a lot of different things these days, but it will always be where the heart is.
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