As people spend more time at home, freed from long commutes and constant activity, they are discovering their priorities are shifting. Home shoppers are increasingly placing more weight on the neighborhood and how neighborly it feels since the pandemic, The Wall Street Journal reports.
Real estate professionals told WSJ they’ve noticed that buyers are changing the way they shop for homes, and neighbors have emerged as a critical factor in their home search.
Sixty-nine percent of 2,500 Americans recently surveyed by Improvenet say they’ve gotten to know their neighbors better during the pandemic. Sixty-five percent say they’ve made an effort to be more friendly than usual. Further, 57% say their neighbors have helped to fill the void of visiting with friends and family during the pandemic. More than half also said they’ve had at least one socially distanced gathering with neighbors.
At-home workers are looking to replace water cooler mingling with co-workers from the office now with strolls around the neighborhood. The Wall Street Journal reports that driveway cocktail parties are filling the social gap that live events once did too.
“Neighborhoods are just so much more important now,” Francie Malina, of the Francie Malina Team in Dobbs Ferry, N.Y., told WSJ. She says buyers are showing more interesting in belonging to a neighborhood, whether for socializing or organizing children’s learning pods for remote learning.
Real estate pros can’t offer personal details about a neighborhood, however. The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing based on race, religion, and many other factors. So real estate agents can’t respond to buyers’ questions on the demographics of particular neighborhoods.
Dana Bull, a real estate pro with Sagan Harborside Sotheby’s International Realty in Marblehead, Mass., encourages her buyers to learn more about the neighbors by talking to them. “You’d be surprised at how candid neighbors can be,” Bull told The Wall Street Journal. She will urge her buyers to even write letters and emails to neighbors to ask questions before buying, or joining Facebook neighborhood groups to learn more.
“A lot of people can’t stand where they’re living now,” Helen Pederslie, a broker with Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty in Bellevue, Wash., told The Wall Street Journal. “They want to feel part of a community.” That may help explain why home sales are surging as Americans look to change residences: Home Sales Are on Fire, Up 27% From a Year Ago.