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6 Home Upgrades Buyers Want During the Pandemic

The past year came with a lot of unprecedented changes that caught everyone by surprise, even those who were hoping to list their house for sale.

Since the coronavirus pandemic broke out, many people and industries were affected but one year after—with economies opening up and vaccines being rolled out—the real estate market is heating up again with buyers now eager to upgrade to a bigger home with newer features.

Those who have been lucky enough to still be employed during the height of the pandemic were forced to work remotely and now see the need to upgrade their surroundings. However, to adequately finance a new home purchase, getting a mortgage is necessary but even that can seem like a daunting task—particularly for first-time buyers.

Using a mortgage calculator is important when estimating your mortgage affordability based on your current income. Therefore, before you even start searching for a suitable property on the market, prospective buyers need to first have an idea of the type of property they can afford, the amount of initial deposit required—which is typically between 10 – 20 per cent of the listed price—and the monthly payments that would be made on the mortgage.

There are several home upgrades that buyers are looking for, particularly due to the effects of the pandemic induced lockdown and according to experts, these upgrades are what would fuel home purchases this year.

1. More outdoor space

Since countries around the world announced stay-at-home orders, most people were left feeling sick of being confined in a space, particularly indoors. It’s little wonder that since the pandemic broke out, outdoor spaces have become one of the most sort-after features for prospective homebuyers.

“Even pools are becoming more popular in areas where they weren’t before,” said Bill Walker, chief operating officer of Kukun, a web resource for home improvements in a report.

While outdoor spaces are the in-thing at the moment, it doesn’t necessarily mean that sellers have to spend money on upgrading their backyards to include a swimming pool; having just a minor landscaping refresh is more than enough to make a huge difference and make your outdoor space more appealing.

Also, depending on your neighbourhood and budget, creating some space for an outdoor kitchen or in-ground fire pit can help you maximize your outdoor space.

If you’re of those sellers living in regions with a cooler climate, one big attraction for buyers would be how you utilize your outdoor space. You can even buy an affordable outdoor heater and area rug that can be used to stage the space outside as an outdoor living room, said Francie Malina, a real estate agent in Westchester County.

2. Interior space for a classroom or home office

Many workers are now working remotely, meaning the regular work-from-office structure might not happen until later this year—if ever at all. That means having a home office space is priceless.

More and more people whose jobs weren’t affected by the pandemic now need a dedicated space that can be used by multiple people to work and make several virtual calls at the same time, said Walker.

When listing your house for sale, it is important to stage it in a way that makes it appealing to remote workers, even if you don’t necessarily need a remote classroom or office for your own family. The versatility of your indoor space would be a huge attraction to potential buyers.

3. Create a home gym

Just like many recreational centres, gyms were affected by the pandemic and had to close their door to customers to curb the spread of the virus. This increased the popularity of indoor workouts, and many people now see the need for a home gym than ever before.

Having a house on the property market with space for home gym equipment like stationary bikes, yoga mats and treadmills would be an attractive feature for prospective buyers today.

4. Include space separation

The concept of open floor plans are now well and truly outdated as homeowners are searching for exclusive spaces for family members to either study or work, said Malina.

If your house isn’t well partitioned, it may be necessary to create these space separations by adding room dividers or barn doors. Doing this would help minimize the sounds coming from other people’s activities and allows for homeowners to decorate each space to have its own unique feeling.

5. Create space for a laundry room

If there’s one thing that the pandemic has taught us, it is the importance of maintaining great hygiene. The pandemic raised concerns about cleanliness and hygiene in general, making laundry rooms more important than ever, said Malina.  

Having a dedicated space in your home for doing laundry is currently a luxury addition to any property on the market and buyers want it looking just as attractive as other parts of the house.

6. Guest room makeover

For homes with a guest house, this can be a very appealing feature for many prospective buyers at the moment—especially those with large households or looking for an extra space to rent out to make additional income.

If you don’t currently have any use for your guest room, retouching it slightly to include its own bathroom and small private kitchen can be a great investment if you intend to list your property up for sale, said Walker.

Now, with the real estate market becoming as busy as ever, including these features in your property would make it very attractive to prospective buyers in today’s housing market.

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