(PRNewswire) – When COVID-19 drove working professionals out of the office, it sparked a surge in home buying that is leading to some big decisions for homeowners as offices begin to reopen. After more than a year of working remotely, Americans have moved farther away from the office and are less willing to commute, according to new survey data from Realtor.com®. Those pandemic purchases are leaving some new homeowners and companies in conflict about what’s next.

Nearly sixty percent of new homeowners, who purchased within the last twelve months, are working from home and 62% prefer to be. Despite it being the clear preference, only 48% have been told by their employer they can continue to work remotely. One quarter of those surveyed still have no definitive answer on whether or not they can remain fully remote indefinitely and another quarter already have plans to return.

“Throughout the last year we have seen homebuyers across the country, empowered by the new found ability to work remotely, moving farther and farther from crowded urban downtowns in search of more space, higher quality of life, and a lower cost of living,” said George Ratiu, Sr. economist for Realtor.com. “Our survey data shows that people are really enjoying their new communities and larger homes, and aren’t willing to give them up anytime soon. Looking forward, if companies return to more conservative policies on working from home, we could see an influx of new homeowners in the job market. For companies willing to stay more flexible with either hybrid or entirely remote opportunities, there is a large cohort of young professionals with growing families who value homeownership and affordability, and welcome the benefits of a technologically-enhanced employment landscape.”

Job versus home
That’s created a dilemma for new homeowners who are happy at home and uncertain if and when their employer will want them back in the office. When asked what they will do if their employer decides they must return to the jobsite – while 48% said they’d try to arrange a flexible schedule that allows for some in-office work and some remote work, nearly a quarter say they will find a new job. Just 30% of those asked said they would willingly return to the office if asked and only eight percent say they would sell their pandemic purchase in favor of a home closer to work.

Going the distance
Despite the fact that 31% say they are less willing to commute farther for work, close to 40% (or four-in-ten) would have to travel 30 minutes or more each way to their office if asked to return to the workplace. Eighteen percent of new homeowners would have to commute more than 60-minutes each way making the prospect of returning to a daily commute very unappealing.

“As offices begin to reopen, those who are currently looking for a new home may have to start factoring commute time into their search. One way to find homes within your desired commute time is to use the Realtor.com commute time filter. Just plug in your office address and desired commute and let it do the rest,” said Lexie Holbert, home and living expert at Realtor.com.