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Two home offices? Real estate agents dish on the latest must-have amenities

A move to the suburbs requires learning centers, playrooms, pools and home offices for some buyers

In the age of COVID-19, Peck Barham knew that prospective home buyers would pepper him with questions about home offices as they decamped downtown Birmingham for the spacious suburbs.

But the agent with TeamBarham, Keller Williams Homewood didn’t expect the grub question.

“The Birmingham Metro has a large suburban population and we have seen a larger than usual pattern to being outside the downtown district,” said Barham. “However, they do want to make sure they stay within their favorite food/service delivery zone. I’ve been asked on more than one occasion to check this over the past months.”

As Americans ditch urban cores for roomier abodes in the suburbs, real estate agents say the list of must-haves has changed: buyers are looking for pools, home offices and makeshift learning centers.

Shelly Garcia, an agent at Realty ONE Group Complete just outside Sacramento, said that she’s seen homebuyers seek rooms specifically for virtual learning.

“A lot of people are looking for extra rooms now for an office, also because they’re working from home and of course, rooms for schooling now,” Garcia said. “The desirability on larger homes are starting to creep back again just because of space. Of course, a lot of people are getting out of cities and moving to where they want to be instead of staying in [the cities]. We’re getting tons of activity up here from San Francisco.”

Dallas-based agent Alex Trusler, with the Trusler Group, said many of his coupled clients don’t want to share their office space.

“I’ve got several clients right now that two offices are absolute requirements, or another area that you can use for a second office,” Trusler said.

Across large swaths of the U.S., public parks are either closed or are greatly limiting capacity. It’s helped spur homebuyers to search for homes with pools and outdoor amenities.

Pool installers in Dallas are booked solid for the next year or two, Trusler said. And about 70% of the people he works with are getting pools installed, specifically buyers with older kids.

In Connecticut, nearly a third of homes that went under contract between March and early July had a swimming pool, according to a recent analysis by Coldwell Banker.

In Dallas, even though demand is through the roof and inventory is low, buyers remain choosy.

Buyers “are still holding out for those things that they feel are important for the house,” Trusler said. “We’re seeing more people right now that I think are open to doing work on older homes and maybe some cosmetic updating.”

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