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Realtors Say Many Are Looking For More Space At Home, Considering Suburban Areas Amid Pandemic

CHICAGO (CBS) -- A recent nationwide study shows a quarter of realtors have clients who have shifted their preferred location due to COVID-19 – seeking to trade the train station for a parking space and the close commute for a home office.

CBS 2's Tim McNicholas asked local investors and realtors how that could impact the Chicago market.

If you've seen Nelson Lin lately, you've probably seen a tool belt at his side.

He is a real estate investor who is rehabbing a home near the border of Avondale and Logan Square. When McNicholas talked with him, he was replacing the fans and getting closer to the finish product.

"I'll probably rent it out to somebody, move onto the next one - that's usually what I do," Lin said.

Lin said he picked that particular spot because it is close to public transit and not too far from the Loop. But for his next project?

"Nowadays, I don't think that matters as much," Lin said, "so the next property, I'll be looking for is something with a bit more space."

The National Association of Realtors recently asked their members about any COVID-19-related changes. A total of 22 percent said clients are less concerned about their commute, 24 percent said they are now hearing a home office is more important to their clients, and 13 percent said clients had changed their preference from an apartment or condo to a house.

Mabel Guzman is a realtor who just helped some millennials – first-time buyers – find a condo in Beverly near the city's southern limits. She said they were excited about the outdoor space.

"Home is so much more than just a place to hang your hat these days," Guzman said. "It's your office. It's your school room. It's your restaurant. It's your theater. It's your gym."

In the realtors' survey, about a quarter reported a major change in preferred locations, like from the city to the suburbs.

Of those buyers who did change, the suburbs and rural areas were the most popular landing spots, with few shifting to the city from somewhere else.

We asked Guzman if this means property values could drop near public transit or in urban areas. She said it is too soon to tell.

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