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A yard, extra bathroom among dreams for small housing dwellers — at least until pandemic passes

Katie Park, The Philadelphia Inquirer on

Published in Home and Consumer News

PHILADELPHIA -- On a normal day -- that is to say, prepandemic -- living in a small apartment, a place that commands minimalism, could be inconvenient. For people now cramped in tight quarters under stay-at-home orders necessitated by the coronavirus pandemic, what once seemed charming in its coziness is no more.

It's annoying.

"There is a feeling of being trapped," said Allison Fegel, a real estate agent for Philly Home Girls, a female-run company in East Kensington. People are saying, "We need more space; we need more green."

From 300-square-foot Rittenhouse Square condominiums to apartments just barely double that size, "people are able to accommodate their space as well as they can," said Lisette Tarragano, another real estate agent at Philly Home Girls. "If they didn't lose their job, or if they have but can maintain where they are, they're staying or they're not."

More outdoor space, extra natural light, and another bathroom were among the elements of what residents yearned for while sequestered in tight dwellings, according to 1,300 homeowners and renters who took a survey published by realtor.com in late April.

"After more than a month of stay-at-home orders, it's safe to say Americans are really getting to know what home features work and don't work for their families," Nate Johnson, chief marketing officer for realtor.com, said in a statement.

 

It is, in Fegel's parlance, "a change in requirements."

"A client that I'm working with right now who's moving back to the Philadelphia area lives in a city right now and has told me that they want to be in a Center City neighborhood," she said. "But since they've been shut in, they've decided they actually would rather be in a near suburb with more space and some outdoor space. Their requirements kind of flipped. And that's really just since the shutdown, and they've been at home with their daughter, shut in."

For people unable to move during the global pandemic, among the most ambitious of realtor.com's survey respondents -- ostensibly, also the most frustrated -- 32% said they had started a home improvement project on their own, according to the survey. Another 15% said they planned to do the same.

Others have decided renovations aren't enough.

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