When 2nd Homes Become Only Homes…

The most obvious interior design opportunity spawned by the pandemic is, to me, the flight from urban centers to more remote, rural, and resort communities.

I’ve written extensively about how even designers in major population areas should draw a 250 mile radius around their offices and identify every possible golfing community, lake community, and upscale gated community that could be attractive to those who want a 2nd, getaway home within easy reach.

I’ve also projected that those designers (including many Edge members) who specialize in high-end resort cities (think Aspen, Jackson Hole and Santa Fe) should work very closely with local realtors and architects so that you can be at the front-of-the-bus when new construction or new sales are in the earliest stages.

But What If It’s No Longer a “2nd” Home?

I stand by these, but there is now evidence of a slightly different twist on this theme. That twist is that, having been forced to run their companies and work remotely, more and more business owners are wondering why they need that 1st home in the urban center at all. Consider the following from a recent Wall Street Journal article:

“The “aha moment” for Brett Rossmann came when he realized that with everyone at his digital marketing company working from home because of coronavirus, he could just as easily be living in the mountains rather than crowded Los Angeles.

Residents of expensive metro areas around the U.S., who can now work remotely and no longer want to deal with urban ills, are fueling real-estate booms in smaller cities and resort areas

Residents of expensive metro areas around the U.S., who can now work remotely and no longer want to deal with urban ills, are fueling real-estate booms in smaller cities and resort areas—particularly in the West.
The boom is part of heightened buying activity in less-populated areas across the U.S., all fueled by the same motivation: people seeking more open spaces after being cooped up during the pandemic.

In Colorado’s Vail Valley, Slifer Smith & Frampton Real Estate said that between June 1 and Aug. 20 it wrote 432 home contracts—a 99% increase over the same period last year. In Aspen, meanwhile, home-sale contracts tripled to 76 in July from the same month last year, according to a report by Douglas Elliman Real Estate.

Again, this is all predictable, if perhaps 5X what I suspected. But what may not be made clear by these excerpts is that the gist of the article is that these individuals are NOT purchasing 2nd or 3rd homes! They’re purchasing “only homes” as these buyers are selling their original domicile in the urban centers for good.

This has important implications for you. If you’re active in these remote/rural/resort areas, now is the time to double down. If you’re not, then you’ve got some research to do. And as for your primary market, I’d want good intelligence as to which of your former clients maybe putting their home up for sale. More importantly, I’d want to know where they’re going and if I could help them after they get there.

Virtually All Designers Will See an Increase in The Number of Remote Clients

Sure, most designers don’t exactly relish travel right now, but with enhanced digital “tours” and video calls, you can complete a project now with far fewer site visits in the past. Just count on it–interior designers in the future will have a much higher level of remote clients than in the past.

Everyday during this pandemic I see incredible new opportunities opening up for you, but it’s up to you to clarify and seize them.

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