5 Real Estate Trends That Have Emerged From COVID-19

COVID-19 has fundamentally reshaped the housing market, from how we conduct business to how we live our lives. Here are 5 growing real estate trends that have emerged during this time.

1. Location Independence — Moving to Smaller Towns

Now that more people around the world are having to work from home and use online video meeting software, such as Zoom, to work remotely – it has opened up a whole world of possibilities that allows people the freedom to live and work from anywhere.

Although, as cities have traditionally boomed and been popular for their density of amenities, entertainment, innovation, and jobs — these same traits have been less desirable with the possibility of the spread of disease.

According to a report by Redfin and Zillow, interest in more rural country areas has increased, with many people likely to move away from bigger cities into smaller towns and suburban areas where they can find more space, privacy, and bigger homes that are within their budget, while having the freedom to work remotely.

2. More Space and Bigger Houses

As more people have started to work, study for school, live, and exercise — all at home — they require a larger, more comfortable, and usable house overall that accommodates all of their stay-at-home needs.

And with more people working remotely from Zoom nowadays — a larger office space with better lighting has also become a much-needed feature.

“COVID-19 has led a segment of home buyers to desire larger homes and to move out to the suburbs,” said Rose Quint, Assistant Vice President of Survey Research with the National Association of Home Builders.

“Because of the pandemic, we are seeing data already that builders are getting more requests for larger homes because people want more space.” Quint predicts numbers for the second half of this year will show average home size growing again.

3. Outdoor Living Environments

As the restrictions have meant more time being cooped up indoors — outdoor living environments that allow homeowners to utilize more privacy and space has also increased in demand.

Popular outdoor living features include patios and front porches, shade and privacy screening, gazebos and decks — as well as luxuries like premium lighting, BBQs, fireplaces, and comfortable furniture.

Homeowners are also looking for quiet places so they can escape without ever leaving — places such as sheds, garages, and ohanas are being converted to artist studios, home offices, or classroom space for the children.

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4. New Houses

New homes are gaining popularity as well, with 60% of buyers preferring new homes — the highest levels since 2007.

This increased interest in new homes is attributed to three key factors, explained Rose Quint of the National Association of Home Builders, “One is the absolute lack of existing home inventory. Two is buyers are concerned about touring other people’s homes. And last but not least, new homes are more likely to be located where buyers want to live.”

On Maui specifically, vacant land sales increased 17% in comparison to 2019, according to Fidelity National Title’s 2020 year end report.

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5. Second Vacation Homes

The many changes from the pandemic have also driven growth in areas where people were more likely to travel for vacations.

Mortgage applications for second homes skyrocketed 84% year-over-year in January, according to a report from Redfin.

“Working from home, what the heck, you can work from a vacation home,” said Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist and Senior Vice President of Research at the National Association of Realtors®.

“Why would the boss know or care? We have seen sales growth be stronger in vacation counties compared to more normal counties.” he continued.

On Maui, pending sales for Condominiums increased 35.2%, according to the recent REALTORS® Association of Maui December 2020 report, in comparison to 2019 figures.


Dave Futch is a REALTOR Salesperson, ABR, e-Pro, NAR Green, SFR, SRS with Hawai'i Life. You can email him at [email protected].

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