A question: Because more people are spending more time at home in these virus times, are today’s homebuyers desiring spaces for home offices, home-schooling, exercise room, and just more space? Also, are people moving to Santa Fe because they want to get away from COVID and violence concerns in big cities? We asked a handful of people; here are their responses:
Vicky Markley, broker with Sotheby’s International Realty: We’re absolutely seeing more requests for home office and schooling spaces. It depends on the floor plan of the home, but people use their imaginations to work with what there is, because we don’t have a lot of inventory. But there are people that are definitely looking to upsize, to have that extra space to work remotely and if they’re going to be home-schooling their kids.
There was a general trend toward smaller and closer to downtown and all the restaurants and other amenties but now we’re seeing that many of our rural properties where people can have a garden is becoming important. They do look for extra patio space, extra portal space where they can extend the kitchen or the living area outside.
Do you have more clients wanting to move to this area from big cities?
I have buyers I’ve worked with and living in the higher density scares them. With some of the violence they’re feeling like it’s not the place they want to be anymore. People realize they can work from home and can live wherever they want to.
Britney Burns, Pulte Homes at Las Soleras sales consultant: Yes, we’ve definitely been seeing an increase in people looking for a designated space for a home office or an area for schooling. A second living space or an additional bedroom has been a high priority for a lot of the people looking to buy a house here.
Architect Craig Hoopes: We are definitely getting requests for home offices. For our clientele, usually the kids are gone, so we’re not getting requests for educational spaces. People do seem to want to make sure there is room to spread out, so they’re planning guest houses or studio spaces that can be occupied for quarantine if needs be.
What about shrinking that indoor-outdoor horizon?
That’s always been a hallmark of what we’ve done, and making sure that there is good lighting. It is somewhat of a lighter existence than some of the old Santa Fe Style, which tends to be heavier and darker.
Peter Kempf, director of sales at the Rancho Viejo subdivision: We’re getting people coming from bigger cities who want to get out. 70 percent of our buyers are 55 or older and they’re looking to come here to retire or semi-retire and the virus has motivated them to do it now rather than later. One of the things they’re always looking for is a den or separate office for working virtually, whether it’s for work or school.
How are you responding?
We have several floor plans from 1,500 to 2,900 square feet that have a den or office.
It is crazy wild. I thought business would die when the virus hit and it’s just the opposite. We’re building as fast as we can, but the virus has also impacted our vendors and it takes longer to get permits with the county offices closed.
How about the resale market in Rancho Viejo?
It’s just on fire, like everywhere else. If the price is right, it’s gone in a day or two.
Christine McDonald, broker with Santa Fe Properties: I think the answer is yes to both, spaces for home offices and education. It also appears that they’re looking for bigger homes. They’re going to be in the house more, so more elbow room.
Rob Morlino, marketing director at Homewise, Inc.: Some people ask about home office and schooling. Most of those spaces are what we would count as bedrooms. In my own family that’s exactly what we’ve done. My wife and I own a home in Pueblos del Sol. We purchased it as a three-bedroom house but we only use one, so one was a guest room and the other was a den area and we have converted those two bedrooms — a Realtor would call them bedrooms but a construction guy would call them broom closets — we converted those for our respective offices.
Has the Homewise building program changed because of COVID?
No, building hasn’t changed much at all. Showing homes has. And lumber costs have increased, but I would say we have not really allowed it to delay much of our construction. We’re still building homes.
Paul Geoffrey, broker with Santa Fe Properties: I’ve been really busy, and a lot of it is people moving from high-density places like Dallas to here.
They want more spaciousness?
They do. I had a family, a mom, dad, three daughters, three cats, and four dogs who moved from the Highland Park area in Dallas and they moved to 60 acres in Galisteo. They were so happy.
Stephanie Duran, broker with Barker Realty: I have seen a definite increase in people wanting to have a home gym, maybe in an extra bedroom. And how can two working parents operate in the same space? How can they take their house and work with what they have to create private space or add on a room? Actually with interest rates as low as they are, and with home appreciation so good, they can move up to a larger property, possibly a higher priced home, and pay the mortgage. The interest rates are so low they take the gain off what they’re selling and move up. It can make sense economically.
Are clients moving from big cities because of COVID?
We’re getting a lot of people from the San Francisco area but our job as Realtors is to educate buyers about value here. When you’re coming from San Francisco, we are an incredible value here. People from the higher-density areas, after being cooped up for so many months feeling like they’re captives in their homes... even now when you’re hiking here, you have to wear a mask, but you have the great outdoors within miles of your house. Everything is so accessible here.
COVID changed our real-estate market because it unleashed people from the corporate offices and gave them the opportunity to live and work in Santa Fe instead of just coming here to retire. So now we’re seeing a younger population move here because they finally can.
But that has been true for years.
COVID has accelerated it. In a matter of weeks, we leapt years ahead. The corporate mindset has always been about brick and mortar, but now with COVID and everybody working from home, it’s quite an experiment to see the production level of the independent worker. And from what I’m reading and also experimenting with my own family is that we’re tighter, we’re closer, because we’re not just coming home for dinner.