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Most Current Buyers Think Remote Work Is Permanent

Why are some buyers aggressively home searching during a pandemic? A new study finds that 63% of them jumped in now because they think their commute is gone for good.

SANTA CLARA, Calif. – A study that looked at buyers currently in the market found many reasons why they want a new home – but the reason they decided to jump into the market right now, at least for 63% of them, is because they think they’ll be able to continue working from home even after the pandemic ends – that the change is permanent, at least for them.

Of 2,000 home shoppers surveyed in June for a HarrisX survey of people who plan to a buy a home within the next year, more than 3 out of 5 indicated their decision to act was a result of their ability to work remotely. And of those people, 40% expected to purchase a home within four to six months. In some cases, the pandemic created new potential buyers, with 13% saying COVID changes prompted their desire to purchase a new home.

“The ability to work remotely is expanding home shoppers’ geographic options and driving their motivation to buy, even if it means a longer commute, at least in the short term,” says senior economist George Ratiu. “Although it’s too early to tell what long-term impact the COVID-era of remote work will have on housing, it’s clear that the pandemic is shaping how people live and work under the same roof.”

Remote work snapshot

  • Nearly 40% of currently employed respondents work from home as a result of COVID: 35% percent were remote employees before COVID happened and 28% were commuting.
  • Given the choice of working remotely or in an office, 52% of remote workers prefer to work from home – but four out of 10 (39%) prefer an office and 9% say it makes no difference.
  • 50% of respondents do most work in a home office, 15% in their bedroom, 13% in the living room, 12% at the kitchen table and 7% move from room to room.
  • To work from home, 45% converted a room into a home office, 36% created a space within a room and 28% updated an existing office. Only 7% didn’t make any accommodations or used an already existing home office.
  • Post-pandemic, 53% of all potential buyers expect to return to an office full-time, 22% expect a mix of in-office and remote work, and 14% don’t anticipate ever returning to the office.
  • 63% said their employer was open to remote work in some capacity, with almost half of those people (40%) saying their employer permits a mix of office and remote work, and 16% saying their employer permits remote work entirely. Only 37% say they’re required to be in the office full time.

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