Working from home is affecting people’s property buying choices

Changes caused by Covid-19 have rapidly shifted what home buyers perceive as priority features.

A year after the Covid-19 pandemic struck, people are thinking very differently about their homes. Those buying new property have an all-new list of priorities, with considerations that weren’t even on their minds a year ago.

CEO of the Chas Everitt International property group Berry Everitt says lockdowns and strict social distancing requirements have caused many buyers to put a premium on having access to outdoor spaces, for example, from gardens to terraces, verandas and even balconies.

He says buyers are no longer restricted by locations when buying properties, “Many buyers have also already realised that if they are now always going to be working from home (WFH), their choice of home is no longer location-dependent. They are free to move away from cities to more rural locations and prioritise cleaner air, beautiful views and a better quality of life.”

But there could be even bigger shifts soon in the type of home layout that buyers prefer.

He adds that buyers are now looking for homes that are much more ‘traditional’, in that they have multiple separate living areas as well as studies and/or outbuildings that can be converted into home offices.

Berry explains that homes with bigger bedrooms for children, or an extra room that can be used as a “classroom”, are also gaining popularity because parents have seen that children also need comfortable, quiet spaces away from distractions to study and do homework, especially if they are being taught online.

Writing in the Property Signposts newsletter, Berry notes that working from home and using much more power and water to create a comfortable working and living environment for the whole family is making homeowners and buyers more aware of the energy efficiency of their properties – or lack of it.

“Consequently, ‘green’ features that can help keep utility costs down are really coming to the fore now. As various local authorities work to become independent of Eskom, we also expect more home buyers to become interested in producing their own energy using solar panels or other renewables and in potentially earning additional income by feeding any surplus back into the grid.”

Because of WFH, most people don’t use their cars as much as they used to. Berry says many families that previously needed two vehicles are already down to one or none – and converting their garages into home offices or home gyms and private ‘wellness rooms’, in line with the increased focus on maintaining personal health and exercise routines and uncertain access to public gyms.