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Bright MLS—a multiple listing service (MLS) in the Mid-Atlantic US representing 95,000 real estate professionals in Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington, D.C., and West Virginia—recently released the results of its 2020 Back-to-School Survey, drawing results from more than 1,000 real estate professionals, that detail agents’ perceptions of the trends and shifts in buyers surrounding the start of the school year. The questions focused on how the COVID-19 reopening plans for school districts and the resulting remote education plans may be affecting the decisions of prospective buyers throughout the Mid-Atlantic Region.

The survey revealed a strong emphasis on virtual learning options for the fall and the need for the new “must-haves” to accommodate it.  According to agents surveyed, 84 percent of their clients are considering some type of home or remote schooling for their children this coming year. While education is still a primary factor in homebuying decisions, there is a major shift of focusing on schooling from home amenities such as WiFi strength, multiple home offices and dedicated learning spaces, from external factors such as school districts—which have traditionally been major benchmarks for homebuyers.
The top three most-important amenities to buyers with school-age children who are learning at home in the fall are: 

1. Space for multiple home offices (35 percent)
2. An area within a home that can be used for child homeschooling (31 percent)
3. Homes that allow for faster Internet speed (18 percent, up from 11 percent compared to May 2020)

“The Mid-Atlantic real estate market has returned with a bang this summer, but homebuyers’ attitudes unquestionably have changed as a result of COVID-19,” said Brian Donnellan, president and CEO of Bright MLS. “With a return to on-premises schooling tentative this fall, many parents looking to buy are making home schooling capabilities a major consideration in their relocation plan. This is similar to what we’re seeing in the corporate world, where many workers are less concerned with commute distances and more concerned with home office resources. The ability to operate remotely absolutely is a top criterion for potential homebuyers when deciding to buy.”

The survey also revealed additional trends in the market, including the rebound in home prices this summer versus the initial months of the COVID-19 pandemic this spring.  More than 40 percent of agents surveyed stated that home prices in their areas have increased significantly, up from the Bright COVID-19 Market survey conducted in May 2020 survey, when only 5 percent of respondents felt home prices in their area had increased significantly.
Other Top Insights from the Bright MLS 2020 Back to School Survey:

– 40 percent of agents report that home prices in their areas had increased “significantly”—this is up from 5 percent in May 2020.

– The top motivating factors to move are the need for more space (55 percent) and low mortgage rates (49 percent). The desire for space likely is connected to a “quarantine effect.”

– Suburban areas are especially hot this summer with nearly 60 percent of agents reporting an increased interest in the suburbs.

– 59 percent of agents say potential buyers with school-age children in are more interested in single-family homes versus other home types.

Source: Bright MLS