As downtown Boston real estate market approaches the six-month mark since COVID-19 cases surged, and now many Boston residents are struggling to stay in their apartments or condominiums through a punishing recession.
In August, a third of respondents to an Apartment List survey reported failing to make their full rent or mortgage payment on time, the highest nonpayment rate since the rental listings site began conducting the survey in April.
But the pain has not been evenly felt. While many Americans are suffering through a historic economic crisis, those who have not taken a financial hit are focused on ways to make an extended period of isolation more comfortable. Facing additional months of distance learning and working from home, some are making extensive home improvements — permanent alterations that they would not have done absent a pandemic.
As bans on construction have lifted, designers, architects and general contractors have begun fielding calls from homeowners who are looking for ways to improve or expand areas in their home for work, school and exercise. In June 2020, professionals who list their services on the home renovation site Houzz reported a 58 percent increase in requests from homeowners from June 2019, with queries about home extensions and additions up 52 percent. Some homeowners are converting garages into work studios, or adding a shed in the yard for an office. Others are renovating the basement to turn it into a yoga studio or a classroom. Those who may have started projects before the pandemic, are looking at those original design plans and realizing they need an overhaul to work in this new world order.