By Cindy Stephen

If there’s a silver lining to the global pandemic, it is this:  home and family have never been so important.

Home has always been our refuge, but COVID-19 has forced it to also be our workplace, our restaurant, our gym, our theatre, and our neighbourhood pub.  After the initial shock of the first lockdown, when the world was put on pause, the real estate market did what no one could have predicted.  It took off, because people forced to spend nearly every waking moment at home wanted a better space for themselves and their family.

Big on the list of must-haves in the last 18 months are home offices or flex space on the main floor with lots of natural light. Zoom calls and online learning at the dining room table has created an incredible yearning for quiet, private spaces within in the home yet around the corner from where the action is.

And despite the desire for privacy, open concept living areas with well-appointed kitchens and islands where household members can gather have become a priority.  With entertaining off the table for the most part, some semblance of a social society – even if it is with family – is simply part of human nature.

Buyers want extra living spaces away from work and learning environments in the house.  Bonus rooms or finished basements and large dens for movie watching and gaming are in demand.

Outdoor, year-round living areas became a necessity for Covid-friendly gatherings.  Buyers look for covered or heated decks and patios with outdoor fireplaces.

Demand plus continuing low interest rates fueled real estate sales in Canada, allowing first-time buyers to move out of crowded rentals, and condo and starter homeowners to move up to the larger spaces they craved.

Tanya McFarlane of eXp Realty in Calgary says low interest rates continue to make it easy for people to purchase larger homes that are move-in ready.

“Approximately 95 per cent of buyers today don’t want to take on renovations. People want convenience.  And sellers need to price their home accordingly, whether it’s upgraded or not.  You can’t compete with a home that’s been renovated,” she says.

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