Aly J. Yale

Finding a house was easy. Realtors would enter the number of rooms, location and square footage the client wanted and filter by price to find potential fits.

Now, with the increase in remote and home working, agents say buyers are much more specific – and technical. They want high-speed Internet access, fiber optic connections, and powerful cellular service. They ask for home offices (sometimes two) with privacy, soundproof walls, and good lighting for Zoom calls.

Toni Frana, Career Coach at FlexJobs, has been working remotely since 2012, and for her, the trend is no surprise. “I’ve moved across the country five times since I became a full-time telecommuter,” says Frana. “I always prioritize finding the right workspace first. “

It looks like Frana’s home office approach will become more common in the years to come. According to a recent McKinsey survey, nine out of 10 companies will maintain remote working arrangements, at least partially, even after the pandemic.

“Many agents believed that the demand for home offices would decrease as the pandemic became more under control, but it appears that so many people are now choosing to work from home even if their offices are open,” says Kelly Moye, an agent. real estate with Compass in Boulder, Colorado. “It looks like high tech private home office space is here to stay as one of real estate’s most valuable features.”

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Looking for a home office

According to a survey by the National Association of Home Builders, 63% of buyers today want a home office. Almost a quarter? They say they are downright “essential”.

So essential, in fact, that buyers are willing to pay more. Data shows that homes with offices sell for about 3.4% more than homes without. That’s the difference between a price of $ 356,700 (today’s national median) and $ 368,827, or over $ 12,000 more. Properties with home offices also sell nine days faster.

“The home office is now a must,” says Phillip Salem, a Compass agent in New York. “It’s not just a good to have anymore.”

Unfortunately, home offices aren’t always easy to find, at least technically speaking. While agents can list “study” rooms on several listing services, local listing databases used by real estate professionals, many agents group them together as additional rooms instead. While an additional bedroom can add $ 5,000 to “tens of thousands” to the selling price of a home, according to Incenter Appraisal Management, this tactic makes it difficult to spot home offices immediately.

Buyer preferences also complicate matters – and agents say buyers have a pretty detailed idea of ​​what they want in an office.

“Buyers want an enclosed area, allowing privacy but cheerful with light and sun – not a dingy basement,” Moye says. “They specifically ask for strong internet connections and soundproofing features.”

According to Warburg Realty agent Steve Gottlieb, the size and style of the desktop is also important, especially for those who will often use Zoom and other video tools.

“With meetings taking place more than ever by videoconference, employees are aware that their colleagues are seeing their home,” says Gottlieb. “The home office can no longer be just a computer setup. He should look neat and professional on screen.

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Talking about technology

While home office demands can be difficult to meet, for realtors the biggest hurdle may be the tech-related issues that come with them.

“I’ve never had so many people asking me for upload and download speeds,” says Trenton Hogg, a Redfin agent in Chanhassen, Minnesota. “It’s really very technical. These are not things that I just have on hand.

Buyers today want details on Internet service providers, download speeds, fiber optic connections, and mobile carriers. Some even ask about outdoor Wi-Fi or about specific companies and vendors. (Verizon Fios is in great demand in New York City, where service – cellular and Wi-Fi, can vary widely by region.)

“I’ve seen buyers ask about the general quality of Internet service in some buildings, as well as cell service, as some buildings don’t have great cell service,” says Michael J. Franco, an agent. of Compass in New York.

New build buyers are also getting into the high tech home office game. In fact, KB Home, the fifth largest builder in America, launched a full set of home offices last August due to increased demands.

The base desk (which typically ranges from $ 2,000 to $ 3,000) offers things like extra-large counters, USB charging outlets, data ports, and open shelving, and buyers can add upgrades. such as soundproofing, telephone outlets and personalized lighting packages. KB also partners with companies like AT&T Fiber, Cox, and OnTech to ensure connections are up to date.

“Buyers are definitely paying more attention to the connectivity of their new homes,” says Dan Bridleman, KB Home vice president of sustainability, technology and strategic sourcing. “At the end of the day, they want to be reassured that the technology, especially when it comes to their internet, will respond to the increase in usage.”

Money movements

Every Saturday, Money’s real estate writer Sam Sharf delves into the world of real estate, offering a fresh take on the latest housing news for homeowners, buyers and dreamers.

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