Homebuilders to buyers: ‘Take a hike!’

by Anya Szentes

COVID-19 has dramatically altered what homebuyers are looking for.

Prior to the pandemic, consumers were looking for homes that offered flex space or multi-purpose space, but buyers “are now prioritizing a home environment that’s conducive to the ability to work from home—either the presence of a dedicated office space or a flex space that could be converted into an office” said Trendmaker Homes Houston Division President Joe Mandola.

According to Mandola, buyers are also looking for private outdoor space to connect with nature and keep active while staying safe.

“We’re seeing an increased consumer desire for additional open outdoor space—both as an extension of the home itself, and also for outdoor options that are part of the amenities offered within a community,” said Mandola.

As the benefits of nature and the outdoors on both the body and soul are becoming more apparent, Houston homebuilders like Mandola are increasingly making outdoor space a priority.

Central Park, Grayson Woods, Cross Creek and Bridgeland are a few examples of where residents can find trees, trails, lakes and ample open space right in their communities as well as in their own backyards. Communities such as LakeHouse and Cross Creek offer large lots with plenty of space for dual indoor and outdoor living.

According to Health.com, being outside can actually offer some surprising benefits, including:

  •  It can ease depression
    According to a study from the University of Michigan, nature walks are linked to enhanced mental health and positivity. Those who took more walks, particularly with a partner or two, had significantly lower levels of depression and feelings of stress.
  • It can improve your focus
    With libraries and indoor coffee shops closed, some may not look to the outdoors to find quiet space. However, a trip to the countryside can offer a restorative effect on attention levels. Studies show that interacting with nature gives the brain a break from overstimulation that can occur throughout the day.
  • It can strengthen your immunity
    Now more than ever it is imperative to practice safe social distancing, but also carefully maintaining one’s health. Researchers at Tokyo’s Nippon Medical School recently found that women who spent three hours in the woods for two days had an increase in virus- and tumor- fighting white blood cells. This boost in their white blood cell count lasted at least seven days after.

Whereas outdoor space might have once been considered a bonus, according to Mandola, it’s now a main selling point for many projects and that’s not something that’s going to change anytime soon. “Prioritizing outdoor areas and natural space is a buyer preference that will persist long after the pandemic is over,” Mandola said.

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