FOX Business U.S.A. recently released an interesting article discussing some of the latest COVID-19 inspired housing purchasing and renovation trends in the U.S. Tembo safely assumes that underlying consumption shifts in Canada will mirror those of our closely tied southern neighbours.
The big uptick has been the growing interest in new construction homes, which were up 73% from 2019 levels. There was also a 35% increase in new home designs and a desire for new floor plans in homes compared to 2019 levels. The article showed that people are turning to new construction designs and overhauls of floor plans to avoid combined spaces. The verdict appears to show that combined kitchens, living rooms, and dining rooms especially are far too ‘noisy’ to do work in. There is a growing demand for more rooms and a greater degree of enclosed space.
The new premium is on quiet, enclosed spaces allowing for greater privacy. People appear to have had enough of working from homes with huge spaces completely visible to their colleagues and coworkers. A quiet, enclosed room is also increasingly being seen as important to house a gym at home, or to simply escape the noise of spouses or kids going at it on Zoom. Renovators are also reporting that people are increasingly touching base to remodel open concept areas. The open concept was popular for many years as a way of increasing flow, conserving space, and increasing the amount of natural light going into a space. It appears this trend is beginning to die out. This trend, if it pans out and transfers to the GTA, would likely increase the demand for more affordable homes with more space in the suburbs and small towns. People are also likely to turn to their basements for remodelling, putting up walls, and providing for extra space that’s cool and quiet.
Another big trend outlined in the article is that COVID-19 did nothing to hamper overall home improvement, remodelling, and renovation activity. In fact, the statistics show that visits to Home Depot and Lowe’s locations went up by 6.4 and 11.2%. Purchases for home improvement and renovation items rose by 71% on sites like Amazon and on Walmarts online platforms according to market data. People invest and take care of their homes, even in the midst of a historic economic shutdown and pandemic. The trend of renovating and increasing demand for enclosed spaces does not bode well for condos. While demand for them will remain healthy due to their general affordability, young professionals will now have a very powerful incentive to work from home in houses well away from downtown cores. Cheap, detached homes in the exurbs and suburbs are likely to become hot commodities.