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Post-WFH residential markets

References and reflections on how remote work and work-from-home will impact residential preferences and demand

Published onJul 28, 2021
Post-WFH residential markets

Remote work offerings on Hacker News has risen to 80%, (2021-10-25): Is this the start of a homesteading movement theorized in the 1980s? Are we going post-urban? Will the home be the center of society rather than the office? WFH is the new Blackberry?

Junior employees: I’ve heard some diverging stories as it relates to younger professionals and work-from-home. On one hand, there is resentment of office life’s unbecoming frictions (I went to the office for the first time. I fucking hated it. Reddit). On the other hand, the Google interview linked below discusses how new hires’ productivity is lower than previous generations because they lack in-person mentoring. So while senior engineers are more productive, junior engineers are less productive.

Zoom towns, nbbj (2021-07-28): Similar story as the CBRE report below regarding USPS address changes to areas around major cities, plus they have some analysis on what the “best” locations might be for relocation based on climate, taxes, natural beauty, and other factors.

David Radcliffe | VP Real Estate & Workplace Services at Google, Leading Voices Podcast (2021-07-19): Google is giving each of their product lines control over how they break up in-person versus remote work. Generally, there is the expectation that 2-3 days a week will be remote. In-person meetings will be at traditional office hubs, like the Google campuses, where people from the region can commute to. This means that smaller satellite offices are unlikely, and that Googlers may have more incentive to move further into the suburbs as they commute less. Google is an interesting case because they have been investing billions in their campuses on the assumption that better work gets done in person, and yet they will be providing more flexibility moving forward.

Richard Barkham | Global Chief Economist & Head of Americas Research at CBRE, Leading Voices Podcast (2021-07): Richard covers COVID-19’s impact on industrial, retail, multifamily, and office asset classes.

  • Industrial didn’t dip at all, and is in fact growing, with more digital commerce.

  • Regarding retail, WFH has helped or at least stabilized community-based retail (grocery stores plus surrounding shops), it will take longer to recover in CBDs.

  • Multifamily vacancies weren’t as bad as feared, and the backlog of housing shortage will continue to drive development. The bottleneck is enabling policy in most communities.

  • Regarding office, collaborating in the urban center will still be a thing, but accompanied by some shift to the suburbs. This is good news for the suburbs as they have been neglected for some time.

  • Generally, the urban environment needs to be flexible, as we don’t have the luxury to say that something will be the same use forever with the pace of change accelerating.

Winners and Losers of the Work-From-Home Revolution, The Atlantic (2021-06-21): Winners: High-income workers at highly profitable companies; Work introverts and people who enjoy (or are good at) using online communication tools; Suburban-town-center developers; the how-to-WFH economy. Losers: Entry-level workers in less established positions; Downtown landlords and businesses; Political comity (cultural divide between graduates and nongraduates); Introverts.

Pandemic population change across metro America: Accelerated migration, less immigration, fewer births and more deaths, Brookings Institute (2021-05-20): Covid-19 and demographic changes in the US, "Note that, as the pandemic year started, suburban counties saw a noticeable uptick in domestic migration consistent with the “flight from density” explanation." .. lack of immigration due to policy and the pandemic impacted both urban and suburban areas.

COVID-19 Impact on Resident Migration Patterns, CBRE (2021-04) : Communities on the receiving end of the "Zoom Boom" -- young, highly educated, affluent knowledge workers moving out of urban core areas -- have been suburban, semirural, and rural areas within a few hours drive of major cities

The future of work after COVID-19, McKinsey (2021-02-18): In-depth report that addresses who will be the most and least impacted by work-from-home opportunities, stressing potential exacerbation of inequality.


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