In late 2020, nearly half of Americans were working from home. Although the pandemic will eventually end and people will be allowed to return to a more traditional office space, it seems likely that many will opt to continue to work from home, and this could have a significant impact on the housing market—where people live and the types of homes they choose.
It probably won’t surprise you to know that not all work-from-home situations are created equal. Still, it is interesting to see the trends among people of different ages and stages. According to a recent LendingTree survey, members of Generation X (people ages 40 to 55), men, Northeasterners, and those with an annual income of at least $100,000 are among those most likely to work remotely.
Some people have dedicated home offices, while others work from their living rooms, bedrooms, or kitchen tables. As you’d expect, the higher the income, the more likely people are to be able to work from home. Almost 75 percent of people with an income of $100,000 or higher reported being able to work from home when the pandemic began, as opposed to only 22 percent of those who make $25,000 or less. Obviously, the type of work influences whether someone can work from home. It would be tough for a welder in a production facility to work from home. On the other hand, many Realtors have always worked from home.
The LendingTree survey found that men working remotely were 60 percent more likely than women to be using their own dedicated office space. Men were also more likely to be completely satisfied with their remote workspace than women (72 percent versus 47 percent, respectively). Also, more homeowners tended to have dedicated home offices. Unlike older generations, nearly half of millennials were either working from their bedroom, living room or kitchen table rather than a home office.
Clearly, not everyone can have a dedicated home office, but since those who can seem to experience a higher level of satisfaction, it may be worth creating a more permanent workspace at home, even if it is in a shared area. It stands to reason that if you have a comfortable workspace with the appropriate supplies within easy reach, you’re more likely to be satisfied. This doesn’t mean you have to go out and buy a fancy desk, but it may mean rearranging furniture and buying some office supplies for home. Until a COVID-19 vaccine is widely distributed, it looks like many of us will be working from home for some time to come.
As I’ve said before, I believe this work-from-home trend will outlast the pandemic. I also believe the shift to more online shopping caused by the pandemic is here to stay. Both of these changes will decrease the need for local commercial real estate. So, if you’re an enterprising sort of person, now would be a good time to think of creative uses for office and/or retail space. We may even see commercial real estate converted to housing. Times of upheaval bring change, and while some of it can be painful, sometimes there’s a silver lining.
If you have questions about real estate investing, please contact me at email@example.com or call (707) 462-4000. If you have an idea for a future column, share it with me and if I use it, I’ll send you a $25 gift certificate to Schat’s Bakery. Dick Selzer is a real estate broker who has been in the business for more than 45years.