The Home Office Was a Must-Have During Covid. Now It’s Just Meh.

Library and office in a Portland, Ore., home. CREDIT: BILL PURCELL FOR THE WALL STREET
Library and office in a Portland, Ore., home. CREDIT: BILL PURCELL FOR THE WALL STREET


As workers return to the office, the once-coveted space isn’t as big of a selling point these days.

In April 2020, real-estate agent Ivan Estrada found a home in the Encino, Calif., neighborhood for around $2.6 million with an office space large enough to accommodate his client’s work-from-home schedule. The home office, he said, was a nonnegotiable feature.

More than three years later, Estrada, with Douglas Elliman in Beverly Hills, has the property back on the market for $4.395 million, but with one major difference: The home office is staged as a living room.

Real-estate agents are increasingly hitting snooze on advertising home offices. The reason, Estrada said, is because the push from prospective homebuyers for work-from-home setups is dwindling. A recent study by Zillow found that key words like “home office" and “cloffice" were mentioned significantly less during the first six months of 2023 compared to the same period last year.

Home offices are not as big a selling point as they were during the pandemic, according to luxury agent Carrie Holle with Compass in Carmel, Ind. “Back then, if I had dual spaces that could act as home offices, I would put that in the first few lines of my listing description" she said. “But now, it may or may not be mentioned."

Zillow senior economist Jeff Tucker analyzed the total number of US home sales from January 1 through June 30 and found that, of those that had a listing description, the keywords “home office" and “Zoom room" appeared in 41% fewer listings compared with listings from the same time last year. The keyword “cloffice," which was coined to describe the transformation of a closet into a work space, appeared in 54% fewer listings. It is unusual for the mention of previously popular features, like home offices, to decline so rapidly in the span of a year, Tucker said. His study found that even the general term “office" was down 0.4% compared with last year, it was among the 10 features on his list that saw the biggest decline in mentions.

People are not necessarily getting rid of their home offices, but with hybrid work schedules becoming more common, buyers are shifting their focus to other amenities during their home search, according to Jeff Checko, a Tennessee-based home builder and director of relocation for the Ashton Real Estate Group of RE/MAX Advantage. With word limits on platforms like Zillow, Checko said his team is now focusing on highlighting pre-pandemic features that are growing in importance again, like the quality of the kitchen and the number of bathrooms. On the luxury end of the market, Holle added, home offices have always been a must, so buyers already know the space is there, or they know there is a room that can be converted into one.

The shift in homebuyer focus is what led Estrada and his client to ditch the home office earlier this year and stage the room as an additional living space off the primary suite.

“During the pandemic it was ‘I need a place for a gym or an office,’ especially when it came to clients of mine with kids," he said. “But that hasn’t come up in a while."

Write to Libertina Brandt at

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