The novel coronavirus COVID-19 has affected and continues to affect nearly every aspect of daily life in the United States. One sector is particularly affected but largely overlooked: architecture and design. While we are all familiar with headlines touting home-buyers’ renewed interest in suburban and rural living, large houses with clearly delineated rooms (vs. open concept design), and the need for updated outdoor living spaces, the more practical and less photogenic aspects of post-pandemic architecture are going largely unnoticed. There are two reasons for this:
- These changes are not nearly as exciting to look at as high-end outdoor living upgrades
- Many of these changes have yet to “trend” since they will emerge only as new construction is finished in 2021 and beyond.
Getting the jump on these trends in your own rentals and fix-and-flip projects could make your investment properties highly attractive to a target market ready to buy and willing to pay top dollar for the architectural changes they believe will make their “new normal” more enjoyable.
Check out these 3 things real estate investors must know about post-pandemic architecture to get a head start on the trends:
- “Compartmentalized” spaces for living, working, and socializing.
In senior living properties with hundreds of residents, property managers often try to “compartmentalize” members of the community so that a group whose members are in physical proximity to each other will have the same meals, caregivers, and amenities. This helps prevent the spread of contagious disease and also helps limit exposure to dangerous behaviors, such as smoking, while providing residents with a sense of community. This compartmentalization usually requires shared community space and certain other shared items that may be unique in some way compared to other groups. This architectural trend is likely to emerge in new single-family homes as developers begin looking for designs that offer “pods” for various functions including workspace and offices along with isolated areas for meeting business associates or conducting digital meetings, social gatherings that take place largely outside or at least in well-ventilated areas away from high-traffic indoor areas like the kitchen, and private spaces other than bedrooms in which to relax and read or talk on the phone.
- Multiplied entry points or re-popularization of the “mud room”.
Depending on how the reentry to school goes in the fall, families may begin using separate entrances for young children and high-school age children or may find it necessary to convert some area of the house into a “staging area” for exit and reentry, much as many doctors and nurses already report doing upon returning home to their loved ones. Particularly in multi-generational households, the need for more entry/exit points in the home that can be specifically for one person or purpose could become increasingly important. This could result in all residences having more entry points (even apartments and small multi-unit properties) and in the conversion of some entryways to mudrooms.
- External service access points.
If you take a little time to think about it, a lot of people come in and out of your home. If you live in a multifamily building, even more people traipse in and out of common areas, including mail and package delivery services, food delivery drivers, maintenance professionals, and an assortment of other contractors and specialists. In many cases, those entries need to continue, but in others it new properties will likely offer no-contact options for making these types of deliveries.
In multifamily communities, mail carriers are already suggesting the mail room move to a room with an exterior wall so that packages and mail may be placed directly in boxes from the outside of the building. Similar options are being explored for larger deliveries. Similarly, some properties are going so far as to install maintenance and service entrances and even designating special hallways for maintenance and specialist travel. While this may not be as important in single-family residences, the ability to limit exposure to individuals outside the household will continue to play a role in future architectural preferences for years to come, if not permanently.
Technology is the Key
If a real estate investor has a large portfolio of existing properties, it may seem as if they cannot adapt with these trends and others sure to emerge in the coming months. Fortunately, technology provides an effective steppingstone for existing properties. Many landlords are reporting rising tenant interest in antimicrobial technologies, particularly for kitchen and bathroom surfaces, and many new residents are requesting a broad-spectrum UV treatment on their new unit before they move in. While the effectiveness of some of these methods in killing the COVID-19 virus is yet to be confirmed, having access to these types of technology can make a tenant’s decision to sign a long-term lease or pay a premium on a unit an easy one.
Learn more about how you should adapt your current real estate strategies to the coronavirus housing market at GoodSuccess.com.