Home Offices, Vacation Homes and More Trends: Q&A with Amy Bernstein of Bernstein Realty

HOUSTON – (Realty News Report) – Amy Bernstein founded Houston-based Bernstein Realty in 1985 to combine her two greatest passions – people and real estate. Today, her firm is one of the top 25 largest Houston-area residential real estate brokerage firms, based on annual gross dollar volume and number of closed transactions.

Amy Bernstein was a guest on THE RALPH BIVINS PROJECT, a new podcast produced by Realty News Report. To hear the entire podcast Click Here.

Here is an excerpt from her appearance:

Ralph: We are talking today about growth, transactions, and state of the realty business with Amy Bernstein of Bernstein Realty. Amy, 2020 was the biggest year ever for homes sales. Why was 2020 so great?

Amy: 2020 was an interesting year. It started out very strong. January and February are generally strong months for us. Then, the coronavirus hit in March. The entire real estate market appeared to shut down. Sellers didn’t want people in their homes. Buyers didn’t want to go into homes. No one wanted to leave their homes. From March through May, we had to quickly transition not only Bernstein Realty as a company, but the way the agents did business. The city had to transition on the way it did business. We started to look at homes online. Agents were doing open houses online.  Things slowed down for our sales team in April and May as we began getting used to the new normal. As people got into the zone of wearing masks and sanitizing homes and how to do things virtually, we started showing homes again, but we were doing it differently; wearing shoe covers and gloves, and listing agents were opening and closing the doors. Everyone started feeling pretty safe again. In March, April and May, people were suffering from cabin fever. There was a cooped-up demand from people who wanted to look at homes. It was like a floodgate opened. People started looking and making offers. Then, after the election, whether you were a Democrat or Republican or neither, you knew it was over. We were onward and upward, whether you liked or didn’t like the results. All the uncertainty got buried. The market became crazy. I never saw an October, November and December as busy as it was.  It was a combination of appreciation of customers to get out and the feeling of confidence that with the election over, a new normal was settling in. People realized that home ownership is very important. If you live in an apartment and you feel too close to your loved ones, you wanted more space. This is what contributed to 2020 being such a banner year for home buying. People could have a yard or even just more square footage. What Corona did for many was to show how important home ownership is. And as more people were working from home, people wanted home offices, sometimes two home offices. People found they needed a home to accommodate the new normal.

Ralph: Let’s back up for a second to the home office. What are people doing to create home offices? Are they converting bedrooms?

Amy: It’s interesting. We are seeing formal living rooms being turned into home offices. A little nook in the master bedroom can become a home office. I have seen the most creative home offices over the last few months, in hallways and bedrooms. Home offices today are being almost a must to have.

Ralph: A lot of people are predicting that workplaces won’t be the same anymore if and when we move back to the office. We may work three days a week in the office, but we have to have an office at home, too.

Amy: You have to have a room that is closed [for a home office]. As much as everyone loves Jimmy Kimmel, they will be very happy to see Jimmy Kimmel back in the studio again. We are learning to make home offices totally functional – just like the way it is in the regular office. I can do anything sitting in this room that I can do in the office. I am in the field so much.  I run back home and go back into the field again. It works. It’s easier for me, for sure.

Ralph: You deal with home builders a lot. Have you noticed what is happening, architecturally, in response to the demands of the market?

Amy: Absolutely. I think that formal living rooms are really a thing of the past. The home office is so necessary. A lot of time, you have dual income couples, and they don’t want to work together. More often than not, you see one of them working upstairs and the other down. Everyone wants to have their own space. Imagine, working together and living together. That’s a lot of together.

Ralph: You can only take so much.

Amy: It’s interesting you say that. We did get a lot of calls toward the end of 2020 from this same situation [too much togetherness]. People were selling their homes because they said their lives were going in different directions. When you’re a Realtor, you tend to get friendly with your clients. You ask them, “What happened?” and they say “Corona happened. Corona happened.” It was a little bit too much. Corona changed a lot of people’s lives in a lot of different ways.

On the flip side, we saw people who really wanted a larger home, to be able to stay there and work at home. They wanted their kids to run around and get their energy out. So, yards became important. And two-office homes became important.

We have also seen that vacation homes have become a very, very popular segment of the market right now. If you went to Galveston looking for a home, you’d find listings that say, “sale pending, sale pending, withdrawn, on and off.” You can go to Conroe, or some place where you don’t have to get on a plane. Someplace you can drive to for a change of scenery. Country homes. We’re saying that these properties are becoming very, very important.

Ralph: If you can get a good connection, for phone and internet, you can work from anywhere.

Amy: I have been at showings in the suburbs. You can go to a new home community; it may take you 35 to 40 minutes to speak to a sales representative. You see so many people walking through the community. The inventory is not there. If I ask an agent to show me a home that my buyer could close on in 30, 60 or 90 days, they don’t have them. This is amazing.


March 8, 2021 Realty News Report Copyright 2021


File: Home Offices Vacation Homes and More Trends: Interview with Amy Bernstein of Bernstein Realty


To Hear THE RALPH BIVINS PROJECT podcast with Amy Bernstein Click Here.

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