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Many inside the door of a backyard shed using it as an office
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If Everyone Could Work from Home, 45% Would Move

Given the chance, many American workers would never go back to the office – and new freedom would turn most of those people into new homebuyers or suburban renters.

NEW YORK – The work-from-home trend may create a need-a-new-home trend. The COVID-19 pandemic prompted more people to work remotely, and as more people hunker down with hopes of permanent at-home status, they’re also looking at real estate for a potential move.

Almost half of Americans (45%) surveyed by say they would move if given the chance to continue working remotely, and 20% indicated that remote work was the reason they moved within the last year. surveyed more than 1,000 consumers and 600 real estate professionals to learn about moving patterns fueled by the pandemic.

“The surge in the work-from-home population has rewritten the playbook for many homebuying and rental decisions, from when and where to relocate, to what people are looking for in their next residence,” says David Mele, president. “That, in turn, is prompting changes for real estate professionals, many of whom are expanding their market area to better serve clients who are moving farther than before. If working from home becomes standard operating procedure for many companies, as predicted, these changes will be with us for years to come.”

Fewer Americans are now bound to lengthy commutes to city centers as remote work grows. That, in turn, frees them to choose new locations to live, as well. Of the real estate pros surveyed, 32% reported an uptick in city-to-suburb moves, and 23% said they were fielding fewer requests for housing near public transportation or highways.

Instead, more consumers want to move farther out. Forty percent of consumer respondents said they have moved or plan to move more than 100 miles away, and half of those respondents said more than 500 miles away.

While there are many reasons to move, the pandemic prompted unplanned locations. One out of three consumers who moved in the last 12 months said they did not plan to move prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, and about a quarter of them say the decision to move was due to a change in their job situation.

Desired home features are also changing in the pandemic. The most common preferences real estate agents say they’re noticing are requests for home offices, larger square footage, outdoor recreational spaces (such as pools, hot tubs, and decks) and upgraded kitchens.

Source: “Pandemic Reshapes Homebuying & Rental Decisions: Survey,” (Dec. 10, 2020)