What the WFH era means for new home builders

New developments need the infrastructure to support more people working from home
(Photo: Iuliia Lisitsyna, Dreamstime)

As of the third quarter, current active inventory in the Denver metro area is off about 38% from last year. September had the lowest inventory on record. Buyers are having to compete for the dwindling supply of existing homes, and in some cases, offers are significantly above listing price.

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An aggressive real estate market means some buyers may be snapping up any home that’s available just to get out of their current one. However, buyers’ needs are changing, in some ways as a result of COVID-19, and existing homes aren’t necessarily designed to suit them.

With more people working and schooling at home, buyers have more computers and printers in the house. They need updated or upgraded electrical systems to support the additional load, but may also need things like wireless extender nodes or capability for direct internet connection, like Ethernet connections or computers. If people are working from home long term, they may need an extra landline, potentially, or a multiline or cloud-based phone system. Internet speed is going to become even more important now than it has been in the past.

Builders aren’t completely at the whim of utilities when it comes to getting this infrastructure in place in their communities. They can work with local cities or counties to help project demand. Then, they can work with the broadband providers early in an effort to get on the schedule for broadband service delivery so that buyers have it day one, door one.

That process isn’t difficult. Realtors, builders and developers work together to forecast when homes in a new community are going to be completed. As builders and developers start to acquire land, and then go in for permitting, the voice, video and data providers have got to be involved in that conversation.

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Design that supports lifestyle is also important. Buyers haven’t been able to enjoy the restaurant environment or movie environment this year, so a great kitchen is especially important these days, but there’s more attention on outdoor kitchens. An outdoor kitchen is becoming more and more popular than it was pre-pandemic. Smart home technology, with home theater style options, are also valuable to entertainment-starved buyers.

A lot of attention is on work-from-home options, but it’s not at all clear how long companies will allow their employees to work remotely full time. Workers may still have to go into an office at least part of the time, and for buyers who move further away from city centers, having direct access from their development to one of our major interstates will be highly beneficial, even if they aren’t thinking about that right now.

Michael Beninati

Michael Beninati is managing partner and owner of Windermere Metro Denver Real Estate. Windermere’s Builder Solutions program provides professional marketing, sales and operational support to builders and developers through all stages of new home sales. He can be reached at [email protected].

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