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Game Changers in 2020-2021

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It’s the Covid years, but let’s stop saying that perhaps? It’s been a couple of years in the real estate market that will stand out as the time that things changed. A lot. People started looking for real estate in different places than before, for different reasons than before. It changed the market in dramatic ways. It isn’t just where they were going, but also how extended families looked at their collective homes. And vacation homes.

The early and prominent headlines were “urban flight” and crashing prices. Because that is attention getting? Fear mongering?

My clients are looking at properties that might have previously been called “Trophy Homes”, perhaps not in the most positive way, and calling them just “home”.

What I saw with our clients was that many were driven (or drawn?) to look further from Boston for more space, but they didn’t dump their in-town homes. Many people held on to them, the market didn’t crash, and now they are starting to sell them at good prices.

But before they sold, they made some very different choices. They looked farther from town than before. I have worked with many clients that would measure the commute times from various properties and towns down to the minute. A 5 minute increase in commute was a non-starter. They would spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to shave the number down.

Work from home, hybrid schedules, and life-style restructuring has changed that for many people. More leisure time at home and more work time from home have become the dominant goal for many people who couldn’t move another 10 blocks from the office in 2019.

“We want to have a lawn, and a pool, and space for our parents to visit.” I could give one attribution for that quote, but I have heard it from so many clients.

These are the “where’s” and some “why’s”, but what was the part about Grandpa again?

Many families have looked at the assortment of homes that grandparents, adult children, and younger families own and where they spend their time, and they have shuffled.

Where maybe before an extended family might have a couple of condos in town, some larger homes in Wellesley or Lexington, so they could still commute, and a collection of vacation homes down the Cape, on the north shore, or points farther afield….there is now a shift to make the big homes in the more vacation-y locations, and for more family members.

“I lived in Wellesley with my children. My brother lived in Lexington with his children. Our parents had a Cape house where they downsized a few years ago. And my brother and I each bought Cape houses nearby. Now we can shift things some because we won’t have this frenzy to get downtown everyday ever again. My brother and I each bought larger homes in Cohasset to be our home base. Homes cost less than Wellesley and Lexington and by making these our main homes, we could get a pretty amazing home in Cohasset, still have our kids in good schools, and live like we are on vacation everyday. Our parents are looking at joining us here with a newer home, or maybe moving into our home.”

Some clients do this same rearranging and move into a dreamy, coastal home because the parents are joining them in the home instead of owning multiple, smaller vacation homes.

This shift has played out over and over in families adjusting their living situations and their wealth planning. The bottom line for many families is that they are moving into gorgeous homes, often at a lower cost than their previous situation. And they are giddy.

Is there a South Shore gem in your future?