It's pretty amazing to think how much priorities and perceptions have changed over the last year. Most people have seen significant shifts in all the main areas of life. It's to be expected that home ownership has now been reframed, with new items topping wish lists, whether for remodeling and repurposing a home or selecting a new home altogether.

Of course, the most drastic of all of these changes has been the heightened urgency and sudden ability to move out of the city and into outlying areas for a slower-paced lifestyle. Working remotely has become much more than a temporary solution, and as companies and employees have figured out ways to make it work, many have determined it will become the new default. Without the necessity of a daily commute, many are packing up and relocating to areas they couldn't before consider. Sometimes this means the outskirts of their current city, and sometimes it means the entire country opens up as a possibility. Certainly we have seen the migration to Idaho for these reasons, and not just in Boise and Meridian, but the suburbs as well. 

In addition to picking location from a broader list, people have learned that features of a property that may have been optional before have become more essential. 

One obvious priority is to have a designated office space with the ability to be closed off from the rest of the home. Perhaps builders will start considering putting this off the primary bedroom, or with its own separate entrance from the exterior, so that business from home can be conducted in a quiet and productive setting. Similarly, having had virtual schooling for nearly a year, many families want the option of a home-learning space with built-in desks and bookshelves. This will likely be located off of the main living areas so that parents or caretakers in the home can oversee schooling and other tasks simultaneously.

Having experienced closed gyms and recreational facilities, in-home gyms have gained popularity. Even moving forward, the convenience and sanitation of working out at home has a new level of appeal. Less-used garage space may be converted into home gyms, and builders are likely to appoint entire spaces in homes to exercise in order to meet this demand. 

After the difficulty of visitor restrictions to assisted living facilities and nursing homes, homeowners are looking for options that will allow them to conduct multi-generational living if and when that need arises. Main-level home suites that include additional kitchen areas and ADA-compliant features like wider doorways and hallways, lower light switches, and accessible showers, etc. will become higher priority for buyers moving forward. 

All of us can understand why outdoor living has become front-of-mind for homeowners. People are wanting more private, spaced-out lots that allow for recreation outside, but still around the home. Covered porches, balconies, terraces, and the furnishings that equip them for comfort are high wish-list items. Built-in barbecues, retractable sun screens, fire pits, and outdoor sound systems are likely to become more common after COVID-19. It's likely that buyers, where they have the luxury to choose, will opt for neighborhoods with access to walking paths, common areas, etc. 

Smart home features and green living has been growing in demand for some time, and COVID-19 will only add to that in the future. More people are looking for interior fixtures that allow for touch-free functionality,  indoor air-quality monitoring systems, full-home filtration, UV-air treatment, and so on. 

In 2020, HOME took on a new meaning. It was the place where all areas of life needed to be conducted. Even in the worst of times, home needs to be a place of comfort and refuge, and now increased functionality as well. 

By Anne Gould

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