Homebuilding Market Preferences Altered by Quarantine, Builder Online

Washington, DC, January 13, 2021-The pandemic and its quarantine has spurred a host of changes to the single-family homebuilding market. Reports Builder Online, “Instead of the smaller, more efficient homes that were ascendant just 12 months ago, today’s homes need form and function to serve the entire family. While more space, ‘Zoom rooms,’ and outdoor access are a few of the headline impacts of 2020, builders also say there’s been a fundamental shift in what home means to American buyers.” The publication lists the following as trends shaping the builder market in 2021.

Drive Until You Find Your Happy Place: Perhaps one of the biggest shifts in home building for 2021 is where people are willing and now able to live today. With the pandemic accelerating and cementing work-from-home in a way that few anticipated, the old maxim of “drive until you qualify” is being seen in a new light, as more workers are increasingly able to live anywhere.

Build-to-Rent Getting Even Stronger: The flight from cities that has caused so many builders in secondary markets to boom in 2020 will continue, which has also spurred the rise of single-family build-to-rent homes. That was a strong trend before the pandemic struck, and today it’s even more pronounced.

Bigger Is Better, Again: While builders and buyers emphasized smaller, more functional homes heading into 2020, space is again one of the leading drivers of home design. The downsizing trend from the 2010s has now swung back as people spread out with their extended families under one roof.

What Buyers Want: The lockdowns of 2020 have made clear to home buyers the elements they want-and dislike-in their homes. “Homeowners are looking for flex space that they can use as they see fit, either as an office or a place where they can home-school the kids,” says Alan Beulah, vice president of sales and marketing at the Charlotte, North Carolina, division of Columbus, Ohio–based M/I Homes. While that doesn’t mean open floor plans will go away, it does mean buyers are looking beyond just a kitchen with a clear sightline into the living room. “The best designs are those that show how open floor plans and defined spaces can exist in the same home,” says Steve Spinell, principal at Chicago-based Kinzie Builders.

Doing It Virtually: Several builders emphasized how 2020 changed the way homes are sold virtually, an impact they don’t see going away once the pandemic does.

Keep It Healthy: The emphasis on wellness became more pronounced in 2020, and most builders see that as a way to help new homes compete with existing ones.