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The Latest Must-Have Buyer Demand? Friendly Neighbors

The pandemic forced a lot of people to appreciate the benefits of a good neighborhood, and more are penciling that in as a shopping list must-have.

NEW YORK – As people spend more time at home freed from long commutes and constant activity, they’re discovering a shift in priorities. They’re increasingly giving more weight to a new home’s neighborhood and how friendly it feels since the pandemic, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Real estate professionals say they’ve noticed buyers changing the way they shop for homes, with neighbors emerging as a critical factor.

Of 2,500 Americans recently surveyed by Improvenet, 69% say they’ve gotten to know their neighbors better during the pandemic, and 65% say they’ve made an effort to be friendlier than usual. Further, 57% say neighbors have helped to fill the void of visiting friends and family during the pandemic. More than half have had at least one socially distanced gathering with neighbors.

At-home workers are replacing water cooler mingling with co-workers with strolls around the neighborhood. Driveway cocktail parties are filling the social gap that live events once did.

“Neighborhoods are just so much more important now,” says Francie Malina, of the Francie Malina Team in Dobbs Ferry, N.Y. She says buyers are showing more interesting in belonging to a neighborhood, whether for socializing or organizing children’s learning pods for remote learning.

However, real estate pros can’t offer personal details about a neighborhood. The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing based on race, religion and many other factors. So real estate agents can’t respond to buyers’ questions on the demographics of particular neighborhoods.

Dana Bull, a real estate pro with Sagan Harborside Sotheby’s International Realty in Marblehead, Mass., encourages her buyers to learn more about the neighbors by talking to them.

“You’d be surprised at how candid neighbors can be,” Bull told The Wall Street Journal. She will urge her buyers to even write letters and emails to neighbors to ask questions before buying, or joining Facebook neighborhood groups to learn more.

“A lot of people can’t stand where they’re living now,” Helen Pederslie, a broker with Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty in Bellevue, Wash., says. “They want to feel part of a community.”

Source: “Homebuyers During COVID Say It Takes a Village to Find a House,” The Wall Street Journal (Nov. 19, 2020) [Log-in required.]

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