Real Estate

Covid spurred you to improve the health potential of your home for the well-being of your family, but might these improvements also add to the value of your property? That is quite likely, given their growing popularity across the country. Which ones are worth considering, not just for your use, but for future resale? And which might increase the desirability and cost of a new home purchase?

According to Amanda Pendleton, a Zillow home trends expert, the pandemic has been a driving force in wellness design’s popularity. “It’s no surprise that many wellness features were associated with homes selling faster than expected and for more money than expected in 2020.”

Zillow looked at more than 220 features and 1.4 million home sales last year and found these wellness features helped boost prices:

  • Steam ovens delivered a 4.9% sale premium;
  • Hot tubs, inground spas and Jacuzzis generated a 1.7% sale premium;
  • Zen gardens offered a 1.5% sale premium
  • Smart/touchless toilets created a 1.0% sale premium.

Air and Water Quality

Home builders are seeing increased interest in wellness features too. Special packages like Shea Homes’ Pure Living upgrades with handsfree faucets and air and water quality monitoring can help spur new home sales.  

“It is all about clean air, clean water and lighting,” comments Gina Nixon with West Coast builder Thomas James Homes. “Air quality is the minimum standard,” she notes. 

National builder Tri Pointe Homes is including indoor air quality-enhancing features like home products with low to no-VOC paints, adhesive or sealants in its standard offerings, according to Kevin Wilson, vice president of strategic sourcing and sustainability. They’re also using MERV 8 or higher air filters to reduce airborne contaminants, (which means installing HVAC systems that can handle them, not always the case in older resale homes).

Wellness upgrade packages include central vacuum systems, humidity sensing bathroom fans and whole house water filtration.

Voice and Remote Control

Voice and remote control features are also growing areas of interest. “Our home automation system offers full lighting controls using customized scenarios activated with voice or the click of a button,” Nixon says.

Tri Pointe’s home smart systems let you “control your temperature, lighting and much more via smart phone or voice control,” Wilson shares, “both for comfort and convenience while at home, or for your imminent arrival when away.” You can also provide remote access to guests or service providers and monitor who’s coming and going from your home, a definite safety-related wellness feature.

According to the Home Technology Association and TechCrunch, “Over a quarter of U.S. adults now own a smart speaker. This number is predicted to rise to 55 percent by 2022. Bottom line; it’s become increasingly popular for people to use voice assistant technologies over traditional user interfaces like keypads, touch panels, smartphones and remote controls as the preferred method of controlling smart devices in a home,” the trade group concludes. 

With a growing number of adults facing disability and age-related health challenges, the convenience of voice control will help ensure its growth for the next decade or longer.

Flex Spaces

Flex spaces are growing in popularity, as different households have different and changing needs over time.  In its 2021 Design Trends Survey, the National Kitchen & Bath Association reported that “top-of-mind design changes from COVID include creating flexible spaces in the home for work and/or school, better storage solutions and easy-to-clean surfaces.” Most homeowners are looking for low maintenance spaces, both indoors and out.

Outdoor Living

Homes with outdoor space are in high demand, and those who have them are spending time and money upgrading them, according to local service professionals marketplace platform, Thumbtack. Being able to step outside your residence and enjoy nature sights and sounds is a definite wellness benefit, and homeowners are taking full advantage of them.

Among the platform’s 10 most popular backyard upgrades for summer 2021 are outdoor landscaping and design (top spot); deck or porch remodel (fourth); play equipment construction (fifth); patio remodel or addition (ninth) and gazebo installation or construction (tenth). All of these are geared toward healthy outdoor living. The Thumbtack team expects to see firepits and outdoor kitchens surging this summer too.

According to the NKBA, members are seeing an increase in outdoor living projects as homeowners upgrade or create new spaces to accommodate more time spent at home. “Top homeowner needs include an enhanced seating area, outdoor kitchen, fireplace/fire pit and protection from the weather for extended usage.”


“Homeowners are willing to invest in their homes because of COVID, especially for easy-to-clean surfaces, flexible workspaces, enhanced outdoor living areas and better storage solutions,” the NKBA reports. These are all worth considering for your home improvement and homebuying plans this season.