Outdoor Space: COVID-19 and Buyer Priorities

Since the start of social distancing, we’ve kept a close watch on the local housing market as it weathers the changes wrought by COVID-19. While last month’s market report showed market activity beginning to acclimate to the New Normal, if this pandemic has taught us anything, it’s how quickly things can change.

One trend we’ve noticed that likely isn’t going anywhere, though? Buyer priorities have started to shift. While easy access to public outdoor space is still a popular selling point, more and more people are looking for an outside area of their very own. After all, you can’t get a ticket for having a glass of wine in your own backyard!

Local Sellers Ready to Make a Change
Many of today’s sellers are thinking like local chiropractor Beverley Steinhoff, who’s trading a condo with stunning South Granville views for a Shaughnessy townhome with a private garden. “We’ve always had a lot of access to green space where we live,” she told the Vancouver Sun, “but we wanted more privacy.”

The latest market report shows that Steinhoff isn’t alone, either. Benchmark prices for detached homes continue to inch up, even as attached homes and apartments’ benchmark prices decrease. Even during the pandemic, demand continues to be high for homes in Metro Vancouver with private outdoor space and room for the whole family.

Location is just as important as ever, but as more people continue to work from home, proximity to the office is less critical. Buyers looking for more space and privacy are now flocking to detached homes in East Vancouver and North Vancouver.

With more buyers than ever looking for outdoor space, local real estate investors and developers are taking notice.

Developers Ready to Build
Local developers like Reliance Properties are ready to maximize space for eager local buyers, but getting there may take some work. Even if you’re not looking to purchase a detached home, finding your own outdoor space can still be a priority.

Reliance CEO Jon Stovell is lobbying the City of Vancouver to loosen regulations that hamper developers ready to build larger balconies for new condo buyers. Currently, the city limits balconies to a maximum of around 8% of a unit’s size and includes the square footage of larger balconies in a unit’s size.

“The balcony has become oh so precious, even in adverse weather conditions because, for a lot of people, there is no other way to get fresh air,” Stovell argues. That’s why he wants developers to be able to build larger balconies without having that space counted as part of the total floor-space ratio allowed to build on a project.

Making Better Use of Balconies
A mandate that included balconies in total floor-space meant that Vancouver’s developers used to skip outdoor living spaces in favour of interior ones. Now that COVID-19 has readjusted our priorities, though, that might be changing.

Just last month, Vancouver’s city council voted to explore amending current balcony regulations. Changes would allow for the installation of retractable glass panel systems on apartment buildings without adding balcony floor space to the total floor-space of the home.

Local architect and developer Michael Geller argued that this change would allow residents to make better use of their balconies, especially in a climate as rainy as ours. Let’s be honest: when it’s pouring in March, you’re probably not as likely to relax on your patio as you might be in July.

If you’re looking for a brand-new home and not in a big rush, keep your eye on future developments for condos that’ll suit your need to get outdoors.

Start Your Search Today
Ready to begin the hunt for your new home? Choose a Stilhavn REALTOR® to help you find the perfect place to suit your needs. If you’ve got questions about buying or selling your home, we’ve got answers. Get in touch today!