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As people stay at home more, good neighbors matter

By Mike Wheatley | November 26, 2020

People’s priorities are shifting as they spend more time at home freed from the strain of constantly commuting and being active. Now, home shoppers are placing more emphasis on the neighborly qualities on the areas where they live.

The Wall Street Journal reported last week that real estate professionals have noted buyers are placing more importance on having good neighbors than before when carrying out their home search.

In a recent survey by Improvenet, it was found that 69% of Americans say they’ve gotten to know their neighbors better during the COVID-19 pandemic. Another 65% said they make an effort to be friendlier than usual, while 57% said their neighbors have helped to fill the void made by absent friends and family. And half of the respondents said they’ve had at least one socially distanced gathering with neighbors.

It seems that people who’re now forced to work from home are replacing mingling at the water cooler with a stroll around the neighborhood. And the Journal says that driveway cocktail parties are increasingly replacing the live events that people once attended.

“Neighborhoods are just so much more important now,” said Francie Malina, of the Francie Malina Team in Dobbs Ferry, N.Y. She said buyers are showing more interest in belonging to a neighborhood, whether that’s for socializing or organizing children’s learning pods for remote learning.

But real estate professionals are restricted in offering personal details of a particular neighborhood by the Fair Housing Act, which prohibits discrimination in housing based on race, religion and other factors. So that means they’re unable to respond to questions about the demographics of a particular area, for example.

Dana Bull, a real estate pro with Sagan Harborside Sotheby’s International Realty in Marblehead, Mass., said she tells her buyers to learn more about the neighbors by approaching them and striking up conversation.

“You’d be surprised at how candid neighbors can be,” Bull told the Street Journal. She even asks her clients to write letters and emails to neighbors asking questions before buying, or joining Facebook neighborhood groups to find out more about the people that live in them.

“A lot of people can’t stand where they’re living now,” Helen Pederslie, a broker with Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty in Bellevue, Wash., told the Journal. “They want to feel part of a community.”

Mike Wheatley is the senior editor at Realty Biz News. Got a real estate related news article you wish to share, contact Mike at [email protected].
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