The COVID-19 pandemic has led to many lifestyle changes for people across the globe. As businesses and restaurants closed, and people were asked to stay at home and limit their gatherings in the United States, we saw changes like smaller, more intimate weddings, increased pet adoption, and the rise of food delivery services like DoorDash.
As COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths continue to decrease, many states are opening back up and lifting coronavirus restrictions like mask wearing, social distancing, and capacity limits for restaurants and businesses.
But even as a growing number of people are getting vaccinated and life is starting to take on some semblance of normalcy, there are still some changes that are going to be around for years to come.
Many of these changes will have an impact on the rental market, affecting landlords who are renting out properties in the United States, especially in the Washington, D.C. area. If you are a landlord or you are considering renting out one of your properties, you should be aware of these COVID-19 trends that are going to stick around long after the pandemic is over:
One thing the pandemic made abundantly clear is that employees are not more effective working in an office than they are at home.
To promote safety during the pandemic, many businesses allowed non-essential employees to work from home. Zoom meetings, Slack channels, and shared Google Sheets quickly became the norm, and employees saw their daily commutes reduced to the amount of time it takes to brush their teeth and walk over to their laptop.
While some offices are slowly starting to open their doors again, many are embracing this trend and continuing to allow employees to work from home. Remote work allows employers to save money on costly office space in metro areas, lights and water bills, and other day-to-day expenses that arise when people work in-person.
According to Nick Seybert, associate professor of accounting and information assurance at the University of Maryland, “Even before the pandemic, several large employers in the D.C. region were downsizing offices and telling employees to expect more remote work.” Now that these companies have been able to see how remote work affects their business first-hand, many have decided to adjust their policies to allow employees to choose to work from home either for part of each week or indefinitely.
Research from the Greater Washington Partnership found that the number of Virginians who have been working from home has been increasing for years and that nearly half of the Virginian workforce would continue to work remotely even when the pandemic is over.
This change has major implications for the rental industry in the D.C. area. While working from home can be beneficial for employers and employees alike, it has caused many workers to seek out larger homes.
Remote workers have grown tired of completing their daily tasks from the kitchen table or living room sofa, and they are looking for homes with extra rooms that can become home offices. They also want homes with more square footage that allow them to spread out and feel like they have a bit of separation from their work space and their living space.This has caused more people to look at renting spacious homes in the suburbs and exurbs of Northern Virginia rather than smaller homes in metropolitan areas like Washington, D.C. Since the commute to work is nonexistent for these workers, they no longer need to sacrifice space for proximity to their office, and rental prices in these areas have increased.
E-Commerce & The Online Experience
Even though people were required to quarantine at home and follow stay-at-home mandates during the pandemic, life continued to go on. People still needed to buy groceries, attend work meetings, and see their doctors and therapists during the pandemic without leaving their homes.
This led to a massive growth in online experiences and opportunities. Instead of making a Target run to buy toilet paper and toothpaste, people ordered essentials from the retailer’s website. When movie theaters shut down, people flocked to online streaming services. People who needed to see their physicians and therapists used telemedicine apps to meet online. Instead of running to the bank, people used online and mobile banking apps.
From shopping to healthcare, online experiences took over during 2020. In fact, global ecommerce jumped to $26.7 trillion during 2020 largely in part to the COVID-19 pandemic.
While people are certainly venturing back into traditional brick and mortar stores now, this trend isn’t going anywhere. Many people have enjoyed the convenience and efficiency of ordering goods and services and meeting with others online.
When people only have to walk to their front door to pick up everything from their pet food to their new shoes, it decreases the need to be closer to downtown Washington, D.C. As this trend continues to take off, many people will find themselves looking for houses in the suburbs where the cost of living is cheaper, and they don’t have to deal with the headache of parking or sanitary concerns of using public transportation instead of looking at houses in metro D.C.
Dining at Home
With many restaurants limiting capacity, offering curbside-only, or shutting down entirely during the pandemic, people were forced to spend more time cooking and eating food at home.
According to a survey by Supermarket News, roughly 55% of survey respondents reported eating at home more frequently during the pandemic, a trend that has become increasingly popular even after restaurants have opened up to the public again.
Eating at home saves money on meals, gas, and rideshare service costs. It also saves time traveling to and from restaurants in busy areas.
With the growth in remote work keeping people from having to commute to their offices, more people are choosing to stay at home to cook and eat many of their meals rather than heading into the city.
This has the potential to affect landlords who rent properties in Northern Virginia. One of the major appeals of living in metro areas is quick access to great restaurants and other amenities. When this appeal becomes less desirable than saving money and having more space, people tend to be more interested in buying homes in suburban areas and the demand for rentals increases in these areas.
Demand for Affordable Housing
The COVID-19 pandemic has contributed to the greatest number of job losses since the Great Depression. This Washington, D.C. area was not spared, and unemployment rates have skyrocketed in 2020 and early 2021.
Now more than ever, people are in need of affordable housing options, which has deterred many from browsing for homes in metro areas.
While the financial hardships of the pandemic will not last forever, due to stress and fears around economic uncertainty, people will continue to look for homes in affordable areas where the cost of living will not break the bank should we encounter another tough financial crisis in the future.
This need for affordable housing will be a boon for landlords who have properties in Northern Virginia suburbs and exurbs.
Renting Out Your Home In Northern Virginia
While the country is starting to open back up, life is never going to fully return to “normal.” You can capitalize on some of the trends that are here to stay by renting out your North Virginia property.
RentSimple can help.
At RentSimple, we know how to make sure you can take advantage of rising rental prices in Northern Virginia suburbs, and we handle all of the challenges that can come with managing and renting properties. Learn more about how we can help you make the most of your rental property in Arlington, Ashburn, Gainesville, Aldie, or Haymarket, Virginia when you contact us here.