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45% would move if bosses allowed remote work: RPT

David Mele, Homes.com President joins Yahoo Finance’s Kristin Myers to discuss the remote work boom as the coronavirus pandemic continues.

Video Transcript

KRISTIN MYERS: Welcome back to "Yahoo Finance Live." I want to talk now about something that is very personal to me, which is this new report from Homes.com that shows that workers would move if they could, and that most moves that people have made throughout this pandemic are likely permanent. I myself fled from the cities to the suburbs just recently.

So we're joined now by David Mele, president of Homes.com. David, thank you so much for joining us. As I mentioned, a really interesting topic, at least for someone like me, and I know I'm not alone in moving throughout this pandemic. I'm wondering if this pandemic means a real boom in the real estate market, as folks look to leave the cities, like I did, and buy in the suburbs.

DAVID MELE: It does. So we surveyed 1,000 home buyers, either folks who had moved this year or were planning to move. And it's amazing. The pandemic has been a driver of moves. So 36% of our respondents said that they had not planned to move prior to the outbreak of the pandemic. So this is driving 36%, at least, of all moves taking place. And we know that remote work or working from home is the big game changer.

KRISTIN MYERS: How competitive is the market getting if you are either someone who is looking to sell your home, or even if you're someone who's looking to buy? You know, how many other people do you really have to beat out right now in order to score that house?

DAVID MELE: It's really competitive. And what we're seeing, and as you mentioned personally for you, we're seeing a move from cities to suburbs. So when we ask real estate agents, what's the biggest change that you're seeing in terms of location requests from your clients, 32%, the highest response, was consumers who are looking to move from cities to suburbs.

So this is meaning that lots of competition, because there's limited inventory across the country. So it is definitely a seller's market right now. And you're getting multiple offers, same day. You're seeing people wave contingencies, wave inspections, putting in escalation clauses. It's competitive, very competitive.

KRISTIN MYERS: How long do you think this enthusiasm is going to last? Do you think that folks are going to want to stay in this kind of motion leaving the cities and into the suburbs, even beyond 2021? Or do you think that, perhaps, as we've seen rent prices fall in the cities, that folks are going to say, OK, now time for me to head back to New York, or LA, or Miami?

DAVID MELE: That's a really great question. We don't know the answer to that. But our sense is we're actually just getting started. Lots of companies haven't officially announced what their remote work policies will be. We just heard from Google a couple of days ago that they are bringing employees back to the office starting in September of '21. And when they do, it'll be a modified, a hybrid workweek, some days in the office and then some days remote.

So I think in actuality, we haven't even seen the big wave of work-from-home moves yet, because employees are waiting to see what the long-term remote work strategies and policies will be.

I'll tell you what we heard from our consumers, of those who had moved, 75% said that it was permanent, that they had no plans to move back to their prior location. And then it was a little higher for folks who move from more populated locations to less populated. 78% said it was permanent. They had no plans to move back.

KRISTIN MYERS: You know, as I myself am planning and hoping to buy, I've realized that the pandemic made me kind of change what I thought was important in my home. I'm craving right now space, a lawn. I'm wondering what the preferences of those buyers are and if they've changed or shifted because of this pandemic.

DAVID MELE: They certainly have. And it's interesting. You have a lot of company in the things that you're looking for. So we had two sources of this, two sources. We asked real estate agents, what are the features that are most requested right now? And then we asked consumers, what are the most important features? And they matched exactly.

So the number one feature requested is a home office. And that was far and away number one. Second was larger square footage, so people just needed more room. You may have a significant other partner who's also working at home. You may have kids who are in a work-from-home remote learning environment. So more square footage, larger space was number two.

And then three was backyard outdoor amenities, so a fenced in backyard was very high on the list, and then just outdoor room to room. So those are the top three, home office, more square footage, and usable outdoor space.

KRISTIN MYERS: I'm wondering, because we're talking a lot about buying, and buying in the suburbs, and we kind of touched on it a moment ago. But are you guys seeing an impact, at least, on the rental industry, on that side of things?

DAVID MELE: Yeah, we haven't followed the rental side. For us at Homes.com, it's primarily a home surge, people looking to buy or sell. But what we did see is that renters are also moving. So if you're renting, you're still looking, possibly, to move to a place with lower rent or a place where you can get more for your money.

So the renters had the same features that they were looking for, home office and more space. So again, I don't have as deep of information on renters, but it looks like they're looking for the same thing as buyers.

KRISTIN MYERS: All right, well, good to know that I am in good company with a lot of folks out there. Or maybe it's not a great thing, because I don't want too much competition when I do go get that house. Thanks for joining us so much. David Mele, Homes.com President with all of those details from that survey. Thanks for joining us.

DAVID MELE: Thank you, Kristin.