If you’re selling your home, you might want to consider staging an office area to appeal to a growing number of people who want a quiet space where they can close the door and jump on a conference call.
Despite advances that make it easier to work from anywhere in the house, home offices are as popular as ever with buyers. Flexibility – in both work arrangements and home design – is becoming more of a priority for homeowners.
It makes sense. Many U.S. workers are skipping the commute occasionally to log in remotely – about 43 percent of us, up four percentage points since 2012, according to Gallup. Regular work from home among non-self-employed workers has increased 10 times faster than the rest of the work force, up 115 percent since 2005, according to GlobalWorkplaceAyalytics.com. So a place to conduct business without leaving the house is becoming more essential.
“Everyone I talk to is either looking for a home office or turning their formal living room into one,” said Erin Hungerford, a Long & Foster Real Estate agent based in Glen Allen, Virginia.
For many buyers, it isn’t only that they need an office for work, but they are looking to maximize use of the space they bought and pay to maintain, Hungerford said. Little-used formal living rooms and dining rooms are on their way out, and areas that can do double duty as, say, a laundry room and work space, or a spare bedroom and an office, are becoming more desirable.
Tom Vavra, a Richmond-area architect who has designed homes for 25 years, said most of his clients now want dens and dedicated work spaces in place of less-used areas like dining rooms and formal living rooms.
“Just about every house we design has a study in it, and some people use that as a home office,” said Vavra, owner of TM VAVRA Architects. “The only people who want a dining room now are the ones who have Grandma’s table, and they need a place to put it.”
In rural Bucks County, Pennsylvania, where many buyers are New Yorkers seeking farmhouses for weekend getaways, old sheds and summer kitchens often end up converted to office space, said Chip Williams, a Long & Foster Real Estate agent based in Doylestown.
Home offices allow these buyers to extend their weekends and work remotely, so they can enjoy their second homes more and stay in touch with employers and clients in the city, Williams said.
“Years ago, the weekend used to be Saturday and Sunday,” he said. “Now, with technology, the second-home buyers’ weekends here are more like four or five days.”