It was a severe drought in the 1930s that heralded the Dustbowl Migration of nearly half a million farmers in Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri and Arkansas to California’s rich farmlands in the Central Valley.
In 2018, 619,000 Californians migrated to more business-friendly and less-taxed states, such as Nevada and Arizona.
With adversity, comes changes in consumer preferences and behavior. The COVID-19 pandemic may just cause the next Great Migration.
We’re outta here
The pandemic-related uncertainty has incentivized many Americans to want to “. . . permanently relocate to more sparsely populated areas,” according to Redfin.com’s Dana Anderson.
“Overall, searches for homes in small towns are surging on the Redfin.com website,” she explains.
“Pageviews of homes in towns with fewer than 50,000 residents were up 87% year over year in May, more than triple the 22% year-over-year increase in page views of homes in cities with more than 1 million residents.”
The ability and acceptance of working from home and new technology to make that easier has changed many home shopping wish lists on which “a quicker commute” once ranked high.
As long as there is decent internet service, small towns and suburbia offer far more security to the new migrators.
Residents of San Francisco, Seattle and the District of Columbia lead the way, with many expressing interest in homes in Montana and rural areas of Oregon and Colorado along with Nevada and Arizona.
Aside from a safe haven, away from the craziness of the cities, what else are these homebuyers seeking? Right now, what we’re hearing is anecdotal, but here’s what we’ve learned.
Space – the new frontier
“Stayhome” is more than just a term preceded by a hashtag. Isolation, hunkering down, self-quarantine – they all describe our lives during the first two months or so of the pandemic.
We couldn’t help but get to know our homes, flaws and all. I always knew my pantry was dinky, but two months of stuffing it full of “stocking up” supplies made it so painfully evident that I really resent it now.
Others have mentioned clients seeking more outdoor room for the kids and pets instead of having them constantly indoors where parents are trying to work remotely.
The desire for more elbow room is also topping the lists of luxury homebuyers. “We’re getting calls from people wanting acreage. They want grass, they want greenery, and they don’t want the city,” Colorado agent Jennifer Markus tells Mark Samuelson at DenverPost.com.
A lot of your migrating clients may have an anti-wish list – a list of what they don’t want in their new home.
Smart home security systems are all the rage
Electronics manufacturers are already seeing a growing demand for home security solutions, according to Zack’s Vasundhara Sawalka at Nasdaq.com. Sawalka also promises that new DIY home security is being rushed to the market.
You won’t be surprised then if you have homebuyers who are demanding such technology in the homes they view and your listings that offer it fly off the market.
We’d love a home gym … or at least room to create one
Gym equipment manufacturers and retailers are loving life right now. “I sold over 61,000 pounds of dumbbells, plates and kettle bells in the last eight weeks,” Stan Soboleski, operations manager at Fitness Brokers USA, told Anaridis Rodriguez at CBS Boston.
In fact, don’t bother shopping for kettle bells in New York City because you most likely won’t find any.
Even with many states relaxing restrictions and gyms reopening, social distancing rules create lines at the door and long waits to use equipment. Many Americans don’t plan on returning to their gym until the pandemic is over.
Enter, the home gym. Americans have converted their guest rooms, studies and even garages to accommodate their workout equipment. When they move, they’ll want a dedicated area to put all that stuff, or at least a room that they can convert into a home gym.
Smart agents will appeal to the gym rats in listing descriptions.
Agents we’ve spoken with, depending on region, also mention that swimming pools, pergolas in the backyard and floorplans that allow privacy are on many homebuyers’ lists.
When it comes to home buyers, it appears that we may have a “new normal” in the real estate world.
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