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Home Design Trends Changing Because Of The Virus Pandemic

New housing design preferences in Chicago and across the nation are shifting as a result of the virus pandemic.

“Single-family homes and small apartment buildings with leafy outdoor space are in great demand, and architects and builders are taking notice because these residences are gaining more traction in the market,” noted broker Sara Benson, president of Benson Stanley Realty based in Chicago.

“People are isolated now, and they’re making real estate decisions that isolate themselves further,” said JC Chi, a co-founder and principal at Atlanta-based Kuo Diedrich Chi Architects.

Builders and developers also are reconsidering whether the boom in downtown urban city centers will be on pause until the pandemic threat is over, experts say.

There is no doubt that the attraction of swank high-rise apartments with roof-top swimming pools, communal decks, fancy workout rooms and high-speed elevators may be losing some of their glitter because of the novel pandemic.

Imagine what the “shelter-at-home” lifestyle is like in a high-rise tower with little or no outdoor space and long elevator rides while wearing a protective mask? During those elevator rides residents reportedly are required to face the walls in a six-foot-square box.

With homes, condominiums and rental apartments becoming office spaces for many workers, more Millennials are looking to buy or rent larger homes with private outdoor space, and an extra quiet space for work.

“We do see folks that are in the building industry going back to the drawing board,” said John Hunt, the principal at MarketNsight.

Developers are redesigning the layout of new homes and apartments to better accommodate the pandemic lifestyle, Hunt said. For example, what was formerly designed as a living room or a second bedroom could be transformed into a home office or flex space.

Additional private outdoor space also will better cater to the pandemic and post-pandemic lifestyle.

“Demand for homes and low-density walk-up buildings is at an all-time high, especially in Old Town, Lincoln Park and Lakeview,” said Benson.

“There is something magical about outdoor space and the fresh air of a private garden in a single-family home or walk-up apartment,” Benson said.

Interior design trends also are shifting because of the pandemic.

One of the biggest post-COVID-19 trends will be an emphasis on “antimicrobial” surfaces especially in kitchens and family-room areas where residents gather, predicted Doris Pearlman, president and founder of Possibilities for Design based in Denver.

Granite counter tops and islands are losing popularity because the material is porous, Pearlman noted.

“Quartz is the hardest non-precious stone on earth, making it the most sanitary countertop surface to use—as well as the most scratch- and stain-resistant,” she explained.

Quartz countertops are man-made from quartz chips or quartz dust bound together with resin.

The ever-popular stainless-steel kitchen appliance package also may soon be as extinct as the do-do bird.

“Bronze, copper and brass have more antimicrobial properties than stainless steel,” Pearlman said. “We are seeing that those warmer tones are being brought to market and are part of the antimicrobial conversation.”

Home-loan rates hold steady

On February 4th, benchmark 30-year-fixed mortgage interest rates held steady at 2.73%, reported Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey. A year ago, the 30-year loan averaged 3.45% nationwide.

Lenders were charging an average of 2.21% on 15-year-fixed loans. A year ago, the 15-year fixed mortgages averaged 2.97%. On February 4th, Gateway Capital Mortgage was quoting 2.77% on 30-year loans and 2.125% on 15-year mortgages, reported

The Freddie Mac survey is focused on conventional, conforming, fully amortizing home purchase loans for borrowers who put 20% down and have excellent credit.

For more housing news, visit Don DeBat is co-author of “Escaping Condo Jail,” the ultimate survival guide for condominium living. Visit


“The book is Escaping Condo Jail by Sara Benson and Don DeBat. I would say that anybody thinking about buying a condo, or even anybody serving on a condo board, or anybody who has any connection to a condo, this is must reading—all 600 and something pages. Thanks a lot for a great book!”


Steve Sanders, “Your Money Matters” WGN TV, December 22, 2014

By Don DeBat

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