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How COVID-19 Has Changed NY Real Estate
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New York City is home to some of the world’s best museums, restaurants, nightlife and culture. Which is exactly why we don’t mind putting up with cramped quarters (who needs a separate kitchen when you can get a plate full of pierogies delivered at 3 a.m.?). Or at least that’s how we felt pre-coronavirus outbreak. Since COVID-19 upended all of our lives, we’ve suddenly found ourselves spending significantly more time at home (and craving more outdoor space than our fire escape can possibly provide).

Summer is typically peak season for rentals, so our friends at StreetEasy crunched the numbers to see what amenities New Yorkers are looking for right now, and the most wanted home feature just might surprise you. Here are three apartment must-haves—and one prediction for the months ahead—that have emerged as a result of the pandemic.

1. In-unit laundry is the most-searched amenity. In May, searches for an in-unit washer/dryer rose 60 percent from last year, according to StreetEasy figures. While laundromats have remained open during social distancing and many buildings feature their own laundry services, people are hesitant to share washers and dryers with others. In fact, in-unit washers and dryers are now the most-desired amenity (previously, a building’s pet-friendliness was the number one home feature renters wanted).

2. Outdoor space is everything. In May, outdoor space was included in 80 percent more searches than last year, and 38 percent more than before COVID-19 hit the city. In fact, last May, outdoor space didn’t even make the top five list of most wanted home features. Oh, how things change.

3. Home offices are more desirable. Pre-coronavirus, you loved working from home in your pajamas with your laptop propped on your lap. But now that WFH is the norm, you’re in need of a serious home office upgrade. So perhaps it’s no surprise that the share of rental listings with “home office” in the description jumped 9 percent from February to May.

4. And outer boroughs will become more interesting. Everyone knows that you get more for your money outside of Manhattan. And now that much of the island’s appeal (like a quick commute to work and easy access to restaurants) is no longer relevant, moving further away from the city center may become more popular with renters. StreetEasy hasn’t seen an increased interest in the outer boroughs yet, but their economists predict that this type of change is likely.

So, there you have it. While the interest in pet-friendly apartments and your very own doorman isn’t likely to disappear anytime soon, New Yorkers have other priorities at the moment. (Like the ability to get some fresh air that doesn’t require being within six feet of somebody else—private terrace, anyone?)

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