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How Remote Work Changed Real Estate

Coronavirus and remote working went together in changing the way people conduct business and live their lives. Coronavirus did not force us to embrace remote work; it accelerated our embrace of being a remote worker. We now know that even when the pandemic has gone away that remote working is here to stay.

Workers May Be Willing to Live Farther from Downtown

Not everyone will be able to work from home every day. It is just not conducive to some occupations and some employers will want their team in the office more frequently than not. Nonetheless, the newfound freedom to work from home will inevitably affect where people decide to live.

Those who long for a single-family home in the suburbs may flee the city, accepting a longer daily commute if they only must make the trip a few times a week. In exchange, they will enjoy the larger homes, lower real estate prices, better schools and neighborhoods with lower crime that typically characterize the suburbs.

Specific Housing Features Will Change

Even before the pandemic, the shift to working remotely rocketed the importance of home offices. Many multifamily developers were already building co-work spaces into their rental properties.  Other developers followed suit, adding collaborative work studios and computer bars as part of their amenity packages.

While plenty of people will relocate to more affordable areas, demand for downtown living will remain. People will continue paying a premium to live in walkable, transit-oriented areas for the foreseeable future.

How real estate is conducted, however, will undoubtedly change.

Remote Real Estate 

Real estate and technology used to be seen as different realms, but remote work has erased the distance between the two sectors. Before, it was important for real estate investors to monitor these trends closely to understand how advances in technology would impact the future of real estate. Now it is impossible for many real estate offices to even function without fully embracing remote work.

Thankfully, everything real estate can be done remotely!

  • Self-guided tours
  • Tenant screening
  • Preparing documents using free templates
  • Online rent collection portals
  • Delegating and coordinating tasks to contractors

Online Rent Collection Portals

Online rent collection portals are handy because they bring all communication to a central location. In addition to remotely collecting rent and security deposits, you can also apply late payment fees, let tenants pay rent in increments, make announcements, and handle all communications.

Online rent collection systems are becoming so commonplace that there is no reason not to use them.

Easier Rental Turnovers

Facilitating remote entry is not just useful for self-showings; it is also useful for easy rental turnovers. If you have a team you can trust, they can clean and perform maintenance with autonomy. And to speed up the process, you can replace carpeting with an easier to clean type of flooring.

Less Restrictive Pet Policies

Not being home to take care of a pet is often why people do not get pets. But with people now able to work remotely, they may be more inclined to pet ownership. One of the reasons to allow pets is simply that people want pets, and they will not move into your property if you do not let them.

Just remember that whatever pet rules you set, they do not apply to service or emotional animals because they are working animals rather than pets. So, you cannot forbid either from living in your building.

Investing Remotely

One of the top reasons to sell your investment properties is to invest from afar. In addition to real estate companies that can help you purchase your properties remotely; you can manage your properties remotely too. There are simply more tools available now than ever before!

Relocation and Portfolio Diversification

It’s expected that spending more time at home will inspire people to invest more money and thought into how they live, which will inspire many people to seek their dream homes outside of urban centers.

As people move from urban centers, investors will have more opportunities to invest in states with no property taxes and landlord-friendly states. With more geographically diverse portfolios, investors will become more resilient simply because they will not have all their eggs in one basket.

More Distressed Properties

Remote work is about more than just doing work remotely. It is also about everything else you can do remotely too. Shopping, managing your own store, and even managing short term rentals.

As previously mentioned, the pandemic only accelerated pre-existing trends. Remote work was going to eat into the commercial real estate sector one way or another. Online retailers were already giving brick and mortar stores a run for their money.

A year where people stopped going into their offices, did more online shopping than ever, and hardly make any trips just made it abundantly clear that companies in these sectors were not truly inoculated against remote working. The result: many distressed properties for investors to scoop up!

Do not Forget the Human Touch

Just because so much can be done remotely does not mean you should entirely forgo human interaction with your tenants. To begin with, having a trusted representative is essential for remote property management. Having a face and voice you can associate with good service builds trust. In fact, the less human interaction you have, the more critical the few interactions you do have will be.

Plus, some things just cannot be done remotely. For example: doing a pre-move-in/move-out inspection with your tenant to ensure all damage is accounted for before doing repairs. It may be your representative who does it, but someone will have to do it.

With remote and hybrid work becoming the norm, even urbanites are increasingly looking for larger apartments and townhouses, which can accommodate one or more home offices and other amenities.

The ways in which people conduct their business and how they live their lives are changing. But it does not necessarily spell doom for the future of real estate at large. In fact, this is an opportunity for the industry to adapt and evolve to cater to the needs of the people and the market.

Remote working is here to stay, there is no doubt about that. The real estate industry needs to look at the behavioral change of its consumers and provide new and innovative solutions that meet what they are looking for.

We are pledged to the letter and spirit of U.S. policy for the achievement of equal housing opportunity throughout the Nation. See Equal Housing Opportunity Statement for more information.