5 ways home design may evolve due to COVID

It’ll have an extra study, better energy efficiency and designated places for grocery delivery. 

This is a glimpse into the possible home of the near future thanks to COVID-19 — the ongoing pandemic that has kept Americans in their homes since March. 

And that might not be changing anytime soon, as a study by real estate data firm Meyers Research LLC and online real estate database CommercialCafe found 78% of respondents said they’ll work from home either full- or part-time even when the pandemic subsides. 

That’s likely to affect what homebuyers want when looking for a new abode. That’s especially true as the home takes on the role of not only work, but school and recreation, Fred Wyborski, Orlando division president of Los Angeles-based homebuilder KB Home (NYSE: KBH), told Orlando Business Journal. “Now more than ever, people’s lives are revolving around their homes.” 

Here’s a look at five ways home design may change because of this phenomenon, according to Wyborski and Tim Sullivan, managing principal of Costa Mesa, California-based Meyers Research:

  • Island time: It’s no surprise kitchens have been essential during the pandemic. And it’s one reason that kitchen islands — a feature Wyborski said have long been popular — are now a “focal point” for KB Home. The fixture not only assists in food preparation, but it’s also a gathering place. 
  • Col. Mustard in the study with a VPN: Even though people say they want to continue to work at home, they face distractions. In fact, a study by Meyers Research and CommercialCafe found that 39% of respondents said they don’t have enough space or they are distracted by kids, pets or neighbors. But the inclusion of a study — or more studies — in a home is often a desirable solution, Wyborski said. And that trend will likely continue, he added. “Many companies, as long as it’s effective, may head in that direction and downsize office spaces. 
  • Staying healthy at home: Homeowners are going to be more dependent on their dwellings for recreational activities amid ongoing social distancing, Sullivan said during a June 3 webinar. So homes may need to implement areas for exercise. In addition, gardens, an easy at-home hobby, also will be a popular amenity.
  • Energy adjustment: Spending more time in the home comes at a cost — literally. Energy usage will go up and bills with it, Wyborski said. That’s why adherence to energy-efficient design, like the federal Energy Star certification obtained by KB Home and other builders, will be critical going forward, Wyborski added.
  • Pick-up preference: Leaving the house less means ordering groceries and goods more. It’s a trend that’s here to stay, Sullivan said. That’s why vestibules or other areas that facilitate the easy drop off or pick up of deliveries will be popular, he said. 
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Market slowdown  

Keeping homes attractive to buyers is important for the residential real estate industry. Every home sale in the state has an estimated local economic impact of $77,858, according to a 2018 study by the National Association of Realtors. In addition, the housing market often is considered a reflection of the overall health of the local economy.

Overall, local home sales declined in May. There were 2,127 homes sold in the region last month, down 44.1% from the 3,806 homes sold in May 2019 and down 11.1% from the 2,393 sold in April, according to the Orlando Regional Realtor Association. 

Still, prices remained fairly stable. The median price last month was $259,900, up 7% from the May 2019 median price of $243,000, but 1.5% lower than the April median price of $263,750. 

Credit: Alex Soderstrom  – Staff Writer, Orlando Business Journal