It's hard to believe, but as I write this, the changes in the way we live due to COVID-19 have been going on for more than seven months. The closing of offices, schools, and nonessential businesses, along with the concepts of wholesale quarantining, working from home, social distancing, and wearing masks-—once inconceivable—are now commonplace.
The ability to adapt is a hallmark of being human. In fact, according to anthropologists, our capacity to diversify and differentiate are the defining characteristics of our species. But they’re not referring just to physical attributes, such as longer legs or bigger brains, but also to behavior. Indeed, our propensity for innovation and cooperation are now thought to be the most important traits leading to our success.
- No In-Person Crowds? Use Tech to Produce Virtual Events
- Working From Home Could Bring 2 Million Buyers Into the Market
- What Are the Legal Safeguards for Getting Back to Work?
- What Can Builders Market During a Pandemic?
We are seeing a microcosm of this sort of behavioral innovation happening in our industry right now in response to the pressures put on it by the pandemic. Our way of thinking about how we live is changing rapidly. Due to work-from-home allowances, prospective buyers are now looking farther afield for new homes. In the last quarter, 51% of city dwellers in the 100 largest metros went searching for new homes in the suburbs.
What are they hoping to find there? More space, mostly. With parents working from home and, in many cases, schooling their children there, too, the need for separate areas for different activities has burgeoned. There’s also a growing desire for outdoor living spaces that offer expanded possibilities for play areas and spaces large enough to host guests in a safe way. In a recent survey, Houzz reports that searches on its website for home additions have increased by 52%, while searches for swimming pool projects are up by 334% compared with last year.
In addition to changing indoor and outdoor configurations, home builders are adding health-related technology to their new plans. Some of the country’s largest builders, such as Taylor Morrison, Meritage, KB Home, and M/I Homes, citing the need for “clean homes,” are providing anti-microbial LED lighting and surfaces, touchless kitchen and bath fixtures, and enhanced ventilation systems, with many of these offered at no additional cost to their buyers.
Builders are rethinking how they conduct their own businesses, too, finding fertile ground for change in the area of sales. During the initial pandemic homebuying frenzy, we heard about folks viewing virtual tours and buying homes sight unseen. Nice work if you can get it, but it’s unlikely that home shoppers are going to stop wanting to tour models. With the on-demand access tools now available, self-guided in-person tours are easy to manage and can save you money, as well. Interested? Check out this and other ideas on how to streamline your sales process and lower your costs.
Access a PDF of this article in Pro Builder's September/October 2020 digital edition