Survey: Work-from-home arrangements boost demand for home offices

Dedicated home office space has become a more desirable real estate feature as many people have found themselves working from home during the coronavirus pandemic. A recent survey by the real estate site Zillow found that a substantial number of people who said they would move if work-from-home arrangements become more permanent said they would want a home office, or a larger home that might accommodate this type of space.

In a poll of 2,065 American adults fielded between May 4 and 6, 31 percent of those who said they would consider moving if they had the option to work from home indicated they would do so to live in a home with a dedicated office space. Thirty percent said they would move to a larger home, while 29 percent said they would seek out a home with more rooms. Twenty-nine percent said they would take the opportunity to relocate closer to family or friends.

Other reasons that respondents said would be a motivator in deciding to move included finding a more affordable home (28 percent), living at a home with more outdoor space (27 percent), living in a place with fewer neighbors (25 percent), living in or near a vacation destination (20 percent), or moving to a place with more neighbors (15 percent).

"Remote work allows for precious time savings without a commute and potentially more affordable living away from job centers, but it can come with productivity and sanity costs without the proper tools," said Skylar Olsen, senior principal economist at Zillow. "Those costs can be mitigated by certain home features, namely a quiet and secluded place to work, so we may see a growing premium on homes with room for an office or other place to comfortably work, which could in turn shift the types of new homes that come on the market."

Zillow noted how search trends on its website reflect the increased interest in larger homes and dedicated home offices. A total of 8.2 percent of listings in April mentioned a home office in the residence, up 10 percent from the previous year. Zillow also noted that web traffic to home listings showed a 50 percent year-over-year increase, though visitors showed no appreciable change in location preferences when considering urban, suburban, or rural homes.

Another Zillow survey found that only one-third of respondents were working from a home office. The remainder were doing their work in a shared space, such as a living room or dining room, where distractions were more likely to occur. However, this survey was limited to 171 Zillow customers and agent partners, and the company noted how this survey was not nationally representative.

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