Yolande Barnes on how developers and investors can respond to increasing demand for home workspaces
Throughout history, pandemics have had a profound effect on real estate. The effects of the Black Death in the mid 14th century included an end of feudal land ownership and the rise of the yeoman farmstead. The last great plague of London in 1665 was as instrumental as the fire of the subsequent year in changing demand for housing to less crowded, brick-built suburbs in the fields of Westminster. The cholera epidemics of early Victorian London sparked the first slum clearances and model housing, designed as much to stop the spread of disease as to alleviate the living conditions of the poor.
Some of the strange new behaviours that we have adopted over the last year as a result of covid-19 will, hopefully, not be permanent but others will have as much potential to change real estate as the plagues of the past. History tells us that people always return to the city to be with other people. Theatres, taverns and other cultural attractions and hospitality seem as likely to re-open when covid ceases to be a threat as they did after past pandemics. But the working and living patterns that we thought normal in the 20th century may be more fundamentally disrupted.
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