It used to be easy to find an apartment. Real estate agents would enter a client’s desired number of bedrooms, location, and square footage and filter by price to find potential matches.
Now, with the advent of remote and working from home, agents say buyers are much more specific – and technical. They want high-speed internet, fiber optic connections and a strong cellular service. They call for home offices (sometimes two) with privacy, soundproof walls, and good lighting for Zoom calls.
Toni Frana, career coach at FlexJobs, has been working remotely since 2012 and the trend is no surprise to her. “Since I’ve been a full-time remote worker, I’ve moved from one end of the country to the other five times,” says Frana. “I always look for the right job first.”
It looks like Frana’s home office-first approach will become more common in the years to come. According to a recent McKinsey survey, nine out of ten companies will at least partially maintain remote working agreements even after the pandemic.
“Many realtors thought the demand for home office would decrease as the pandemic got better under control, but it seems that so many people are now choosing to work from home even though their offices are open,” says Kelly Moye , a real estate agent with compass in Boulder, Colorado. “It looks like the high-tech, private home office space will remain one of the most valuable features of real estate.”
Looking for a home office
According to a survey by the National Association of Home Builders, 63% of today’s shoppers want a home office. Almost a quarter? They say they are downright “essential”.
So important that buyers are willing to pay a premium. The data shows that homes with offices are sold for around 3.4% more than homes without. That’s the difference between a price of $ 356,700 (today’s national median) and $ 368,827 – over $ 12,000 more. Properties with home office also sell nine days faster.
“Working from home is a must now,” says Phillip Salem, an agent at Compass in New York City. “It’s no longer just a nice-to-have.”
Unfortunately, home offices are not always easy to find – at least technically. Although brokers can list “study rooms” on several listing services, the local listing databases used by real estate professionals, many brokers group them together as additional bedrooms instead. While an extra bedroom could increase the selling price of a home between 5,000 and “tens of thousands,” the tactic, according to Incenter Appraisal Management, makes it difficult to spot home offices right away.
Buyer preferences also complicate things – and agents say buyers have a pretty detailed idea of what they want in an office.
“Buyers want a place that is locked, offers privacy, but is cheerful with light and sun – not a dingy basement,” says Moye. “You specifically ask for strong internet connections and soundproofing functions.”
Warburg Realty agent Steve Gottlieb said the size and style of the office also play a role, especially for those who will be using zoom and other video tools frequently.
“Since meetings take place in video conferences more than ever, the employees make sure that their colleagues look into their home,” says Gottlieb. “The home office can no longer be just a computer setup. It has to look neat and professional on the screen. “
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While home office inquiries can be tough to fulfill, the technical issues involved can be the biggest hurdle for real estate agents.
“I’ve never asked so many people if I’m getting download and upload speeds,” said Trenton Hogg, a Redfin agent in Chanhassen, Minnesota. “It’s pretty technical, really. These are not things that I just have on hand. “
Today’s shoppers want details about internet providers, download speeds, fiber connections, and cellular carriers. Some even ask about outdoor WiFi or specific companies and providers. (Verizon Fios is a huge demand in New York, where service – both cellular and Wi-Fi – can vary widely from one area to another.)
“I’ve seen buyers asking about the general quality of Internet service in certain buildings, as well as cellular service, because some buildings don’t have good cellular service,” said Michael J. Franco, an agent at Compass in New York.
New build buyers are also getting into the high-tech home office game. In fact, KB Home, the fifth largest construction company in America, launched a complete home office package last August due to increased inquiries.
The base office (which typically ranges from $ 2,000 to $ 3,000) has things like extra-wide counters, USB charging sockets, data ports, and open shelves, and buyers can add upgrades like soundproofing, phone jacks, and custom lighting packages. KB also works with companies like AT&T Fiber, Cox, and OnTech to ensure that connections are up to date.
“Buyers are certainly paying more attention to the connectivity of their new home,” said Dan Bridleman, KB Home’s vice president of sustainability, technology and strategic sourcing. “Ultimately, they want to be certain that the technology, especially when it comes to their Internet, is doing justice to the increase in usage.”
Every Saturday, Money Real Estate Editor Sam Sharf delves deeply into the real estate world, offering homeowners, buyers and daydreaming alike a fresh look at the latest real estate news.
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