- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 16, 2020

The coronavirus has changed the way homebuyers are looking at real estate as more shoppers demand space for a home office and stand-alone housing.

That suggests Americans are souring on condominiums and other multifamily properties because of quarantine exhaustion.

Nearly one-third of buyers have told their agents they want a house with a home office and outdoor area, according to data provided this week by Bright MLS, a real estate analytics provider.

Specifically, 31% of buyers want a home with office space, as more people are working from home since the pandemic began. About 26% seek a bigger yard, and 21% are looking for a place in a “less dense” neighborhood.

The survey also found 7 out of 10 agents said their clients are looking at single-family houses, noting there’s been declining interest in condos as people tire of compact spaces.

“One of the byproducts of being quarantined and being inside is just a lust for space at this point,” Chris Finnegan, chief marketing and communications officer for Bright MLS, told The Washington Times.

“Folks realize eventually we will return to our offices, but the idea of teleworking and working remotely will only increase from where we were prior to the pandemic,” he added.

After most states issued stay-at-home orders in the spring — the prime season for selling homes — many agents had to show clients housing options through virtual tours, taking the home shopping experience online.

A quarter of agents said their clients now would be comfortable entering into a contract to buy a house without stepping foot inside, the data showed, suggesting buyers are satisfied with the virtual open-houses.

“COVID-19 has had a strong influence on Mid-Atlantic consumer attitudes as well as on the real estate market itself,” said Brian Donnellan, president and CEO of Bright MLS. “Real estate professionals’ playbook has evolved quickly and the manner with which they conduct their business has changed a great deal in a short period of time.”

The survey questioned 1,100 of the company’s subscribers between May 20-28 in the Mid-Atlantic region, including the District of Columbia, Maryland, Delaware and parts of West Virginia, Virginia, Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Property experts also predict the buying season to shift from spring to this summer and fall since many homeowners were waiting to list their homes until after stay-at-home orders were lifted.

With homeowners hesitant to list their properties for sale earlier this year because of coronavirus lockdowns, the median sale prices ticked up in urban areas, according to data published this spring.

Washington-area homes sold at a median price of $507,000, which was a monthly high for the past 10 years. Homes didn’t stay on the market long — an average of seven days — and they were likely to sell at the full asking price.

The low amount of inventory also helped Baltimore hit its highest average monthly sale price, $300,000.

The same occurred in Philadelphia, with the highest median monthly sale price at $272,100.

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