Bryce Schotz

This past year, COVID-19 created a lot of challenges for people as they navigated a new normal, both personally and professionally. One of the biggest changes for people is deciding where to spend their time and how to utilize their living spaces.

People are going to the office less frequently — if at all — building home gyms, which has been helped by the surge of Peloton riding, and we have an increased urgency for safe areas to entertain family and pets in a socially-distanced environment. These dilemmas have caused people to reassess their living situation and what these spaces now mean to them.

If you haven’t been following the residential real estate market, I will share with you that this is one of the hottest housing markets Arizona has ever seen, and there are a number of factors that have played a role.

One big factor is people’s need for that extra room that we call the “plus one.” Many people who were comfortable with the number of bedrooms and square footage a year ago now find themselves needing that extra plus-one space.

The plus-one concept has a few variations and can be used in several different ways. The need for this extra space is no longer just a want on a buyer’s wish list. It has now become one of the must-haves as people analyze their living conditions moving forward.

This new need has thrust buyers into the housing market out of necessity. No longer can the kitchen table suffice as a short-term solution to the home office. Bedrooms have become filled with workout equipment for more than a year. Walking the dog down the hall of an apartment building just to get a little fresh air after a long day of not leaving the confines of the unit has become daunting.

These are the reasons why people are on the search for that plus one.

It can come in many shapes and sizes, but the most obvious plus one is the extra bedroom. A bedroom provides a fully private room with doors that can be closed off from the rest of the house for complete privacy.

An extra bedroom’s versatility is why it’s the number one preference for most buyers. Due to the privacy of a door, the uses of a bedroom are endless, whether you need an extra guest room, home office or gym.

The next most common plus ones are dens and lofts. These can offer the same space as a bedroom but may be missing doors for complete privacy. Though they may not have the same seclusion, they often accomplish the need for an additional room.

And the good news is they often don’t come with as high a price tag. Since a bedroom is more desirable and marketable it can be hard to find a home on the market within budget. With price in mind, many people are opting for the loft or den as a reasonable solution which will often solve the buyer’s needs.

A yard and outdoor space have been a huge driver for buyers as well — especially those buyers coming from condos and apartments. After months of quarantine, people had a desire to get fresh air. When summer arrived, people craved a refreshing dive in the pool or an area for an evening bonfire with friends.

And when apartments closed their “luxury” amenities during the last year, renters realized how desirable their own private yard would be, and that drove many into the home-buying market.

Over the past year, backyards have been a safe area to congregate with friends and family, and the desire for this type of plus-one space continues to grow.

As societal norms change, so will the needed features of a home. One clear example of such an evolution in trends is the garage. Before the 1950s, most homes in Arizona did not have covered parking. As we started seeing the need for cars, single carports were added, and they later evolved into fully enclosed single car garages. Now almost all new home builds come with a standard two-car garage because having a multiple automobile household has become typical and an integral part of our society.

If we can take one major lesson away from this past year, it is that our needs versus our wants have changed. No longer are we looking at extra bedrooms solely as sleeping areas, but we are determining what else this space can provide us. That search for the new plus one will constantly transform, and as we can see with the garage example, as our needs change homes will continue to adjust with the times. JN

Bryce Schotz is a third generation Arizona real estate agent and operates West USA Realty’s You Call the Schotz team.

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