By: Lisa Marie Conklin
It’s been six months since many of us were last in the office, tapping away on our ergonomic keyboards and drawing on whiteboards in conference rooms during (gasp!) in-person meetings.
Since then, we’ve been forced to find a new path forward in our homes, to create feasible workspaces where there really are none. And frankly, the kitchen table just isn’t cutting it anymore.
Buyer demand for home office space has accelerated during the pandemic. In a realtor.com® survey conducted this summer, 63% of respondents indicated that they plan to buy a new home in light of their ability to work remotely. And, on average, listings featuring a home office command a 3.4% price premium and sell nine days faster than listings without one, according to realtor.com data.
“Showcasing a dedicated working area can help attract buyers to your property,” says Jennifer Smith, a real estate agent at Southern Dream Homes.
So, sellers, take note: If you have a home office, now’s the time to promote it. Here’s how to set up a space that will bring in the buyers and seal the deal.
Be mindful when converting a room into a home office
If you don’t have an official home office, you might be frantically looking around your house, wondering which room could be converted into a workspace. But before you go all in swapping out guest beds for built-in desks and bookshelves, know this: While buyers are looking for home office space, bedrooms still take priority, according to real estate agent Susan Bozinovic of Century 21 Town & Country. And you could inadvertently turn off buyers if one of your three bedrooms suddenly works only as a home office.
Instead, look for opportunities to create dual-purpose spaces. After all, you’re probably not entertaining many guests during the pandemic (we hope), so now’s a great time to create a combination guest room and office. Remove the bed, and replace it with a sleeper sofa or love seat.
“This will result in less visual clutter while you’re working in the room, but allow it to easily be transformed back to a bedroom for guests,” says Smith.
Choose a free-standing desk to fit the space without overwhelming it. Or consider a wall-mounted desk as an alternative.
“They can be installed in virtually any room of a home and can be easily put away when not in use,” says Smith.
And don’t forget to update the closet.
“Maximize your closet space with shelves and containers to store office and bedroom supplies, while also making the space available to store your guests’ belongings,” recommends Smith.
Short on bedrooms? Try carving out space in another area such as the dining room. Keep the dining table, but remove the buffet or remove the leaves in the table and extra chairs to make room for a chair and desk.
“As a seller, you are not erasing the dining room, but signaling to the buyer that the room can be repurposed further to suit an office,” says Bozinovic.
Pick a quiet area
The noisy central hub of any home is hardly conducive to productivity, so setting up a workspace in the kitchen or the TV room isn’t likely to woo buyers. If you currently don’t have a designated home office, consider the location when staging one.
“It’s best to choose a room with adequate space that’s far from the main living spaces and not frequented by family members or guests,” Smith advises.
Transform an unused area into a workspace
Take a look around at the underused areas in your home, and you can probably find a place to carve out a workspace buyers will covet. If you have a finished, walkout basement, you can turn that into a comfy and private workspace. The area underneath the staircase or the dead space at the top of a staircase, or even an alcove, makes a compact office.
If you have no choice but to set up a home office in the main area of the house, present it in the most appealing way possible.
“Separate the work area from the rest of the room with portable dividers such as a curtain, a folding screen, partition wall, or even tall houseplants,” says Smith.
Keep the area tidy, and neatly bundle up computer and extension cords. Illuminate a poorly lit zone with a small desk lamp.
If you have access to dependable and fast internet, flaunt it. Buyers are looking to make sure there are enough outlets, ways to minimize cords, and locations for wall-mounted routers, Bozinovic says.
Also critically important is the quality of the Wi-Fi. Buyers want dependable and fast internet with ample bandwidth to be productive at home.
Stage your home office as you would the rest of your house
If you already have a dedicated home office, the time-honored advice of staging—beginning with a clean and clutter-free space, void of personal objects—stands true. If needed, invest in fashionable, functional office storage options like wall shelves or a filing cabinet, Smith says.
“For decorating and design, it’s best to keep colors neutral and avoid bright paint or busy patterns on the walls,” she adds.
But the office shouldn’t be too bland. Create ambiance with pops of color in office essentials such as an area rug, houseplants in pretty pots, or fresh flowers. If blinds are the only window covering, consider buying some curtains or drapes to add warmth. Be sure to raise blinds, draw the curtains to the side to allow natural light, and feature a lovely view if you have one.
The desk should be featured prominently in the room, Bozinovic says. After all, it is the main component. Facing the desk to the entrance looks more dramatic, hides background clutter, and enhances the room’s purpose—all while offering a welcoming atmosphere.