When COVID-19 struck, experts warned of an urban exodus. The ensuing shift, from cities to suburbs and rural retreats, hint how the pandemic — and the reckoning it’s forced upon renters and homeowners — is permanently altering real estate.
Main & Rose, with decades of experience in the real estate and hospitality industry, recently conducted a survey of over 700 respondents across the United States to study how COVID-19 has impacted their desires for where they live and what this means for branding and market positioning in the real estate industry.
The consensus was clear: consumers expect where they live to provide a higher quality of life than pre-COVID, as well as a sense of community — while giving back to it, too.
Community Becomes Coveted
Our respondents overwhelmingly maintained that one of the greatest outcomes of quarantine and social distancing has been a desire to spend more time and reconnect with family and friends. Vocalizing an escalated drive to build a stronger local network, 69% of survey respondents reported that, upon moving, finding a neighborhood or building that fosters a sense of community will be a priority.
This is a key positioning opportunity for revitalized marketing efforts by real estate developers and companies: emphasizing not just the luxurious trappings of an apartment complex or facility, but what opportunities for socialization and togetherness it offers.
The size of these communities also matters: 73% of respondents stated that they preferred smaller developments or apartment buildings rather than larger, impersonal options, where getting to know their neighbors is difficult.
There’s also an unspoken emphasis on home over house. A place needs to align with the renter or buyer’s values: 65% reported that quarantine has delivered a better understanding of what they want in a neighborhood.
This craving for familiarity trumped other COVID-induced reasons to move, including seeking a larger living space or taking advantage of current low interest rates.
Wanting to find the ideal community may be the catalyst behind 91% of respondents planning to rent before they buy when they move, in order to better understand their new city or town. 84% followed this by saying they intended to buy a home within the first year of moving somewhere new.
“93% of respondents said they cared about sustainability, and that this awareness has increased in the past year.”
Knowing that many city newcomers may be searching for a permanent property emphasizes the importance — and significant opportunity — for real estate developers to market an irresistible lifestyle for community hunters.
Sustainability Is the New Luxury
What once was a “perk” is now a priority. 93% of respondents said they cared about sustainability, and that this awareness has increased in the past year. But does this mean a change in buying habits? We believe so.
Sustainability and energy-efficient features enhance how appealing an apartment or home is for 88% of respondents. For almost 70%, these features add increased value that justifies a slightly higher rent or mortgage. Consumers ranked solar panels, recycling and composting options, energy efficient appliances, and proximity to outdoor activities as top priorities.
Nearly half also desired easy access to communities that promote healthy living practices, such as yoga and meditation.
But just as important as investing in these features and services is knowing how to market them. A focus on sustainability shouldn’t just be an asterisk among your offerings, but a holistically integrated aspect of your brand story. Though COVID-19’s long-term impacts on the real estate industry wait to be seen, these values are likely indicative of an enduring shift.
This mirrors a trend in retail, where this year’s social and economic upheaval has hastened a shift away from branded luxury goods to companies that are committed to social change. Consumers want their purchases to have a positive global impact. They also expect that from their home.
Real estate companies have an opportunity to evaluate how they are contributing to the broader world, rather than just offering innovative, high-end amenities.
When making these decisions, your brand needs to be comprehensive. Sustainability shouldn’t be tacked on to attract a new customer base: it should be thoroughly integrated into the identity. Partnering with a branding firm can help develop a brand story that is unique, unforgettable and elevated to show not just what developments offer customers, but what positive, lasting impact renters and owners are a part of when they live there.
Want to discuss your brand’s approach? Email us here.
About Main & Rose
Main & Rose is a female-founded international branding firm that has elevated and redefined the brands for Fortune 500 companies, governments, executives and non-profits. Our innovative approach to storytelling forges brand identities that are bold, enduring and unforgettable. We don’t just build brands — we build legacies.