Home Canada Real Estate Pandemic Effect: Google Search Terms Reveal Changing Housing Preferences [3-Year Analysis]

Pandemic Effect: Google Search Terms Reveal Changing Housing Preferences [3-Year Analysis]

by Andra Hopulele
7 min. read

As the world’s ultimate data and information repository, Google has answers and tips for all the queries out there. In fact, it’s the go-to place for all of the renters who want a bigger apartment as well as the first stop for home-seekers looking for their ideal home.

As such, Google Trends is the best source for gauging the short-term influence and long-term effects of an event as life-changing as the Covid-19 pandemic. How have renters’ interests changed since the first lockdowns? What’s top-of-mind for home owners? And what are prospective homebuyers looking for in their ideal, post-pandemic homes?

To that end, after analyzing certain real estate-related keywords in Google Trends, Point2 analysts discovered massive changes in the number of searches for certain phrases. And, looking at the number of searches for “movers near me,” “how to paint kitchen cabinets,” “rent relief” and “houses for rent near me,” the worries and pain points of renters, owners and homebuyers come into full view.

Here are some key takeaways:

  • For homebuyers, the search phrase “houses for sale near me” increased 123% in 2020 compared to 2019. But searches for “realtors near me” and “movers near me” really took off in the second year of the pandemic, recording 132% and 125% jumps in the number of searches.
  • For owners, it was all about home improvement. Search phrases like “home office design,” “how to paint kitchen cabinets” and “house renovation” jumped more than 50% compared to 2019, before stabilizing or even falling during the second year of the pandemic.
  • For renters, news about “rent relief” and the “eviction moratorium” was of vital importance, but only during the first year of the pandemic. And, while searches about renter evictions continued to grow in 2021, “rent relief” and “rent assistance” lost steam.

First-Time & Repeat Homebuyers Interested in “Movers Near Me,” “FSBOs” & “How Much Mortgage Can I Afford?”

Possibly fueled by the need for more space, searches for “houses for sale near me” took off in 2020 compared to 2019, and kept increasing even in 2021. After an initial 123% jump, the second year of the pandemic saw a cooling off, but even the more modest growth this year showed that there were still many potential homebuyers who wanted to buy their first home or upgrade their current living conditions.

The number of average monthly searches for “realtors near me,” “contractors near me,” movers near me” and “cheap homes for sale” also went up, with certain phrases actually gaining more ground during 2021.

Conversely, while “foreclosure houses” and “tiny houses for sale” took off in 2020, these topics and interests lost their shine this year.

Homeowners Quick to Learn All About “Home Office Design” & “House Renovations” in 1st Year of Pandemic, Lost Interest in Home Improvement in 2021

For homeowners all across Canada, home improvement became the name of the game once the pandemic took hold of communities everywhere, forcing millions of people to go into lockdown. With a 171% increase in the number of average monthly searches, interest in “home office design” and optimizing the work-from-home space became vital for the thousands of employees who had to attend meetings, make business calls, and do all of their business tasks from home.

Meanwhile, aside from searches for “how to paint a wall” and “apartment plants,” there was also a significant increase in the number of searches for “mortgage refinancing,” flip house” and “how much is my home worth.”

Renters Focused on “Rent Relief” & “Eviction Moratorium” in 2020, Lost Interest in “Rent Assistance” in 2021

Although worries about “rent assistance” and “eviction moratorium” went from almost non-existent to full-time preoccupation in just a few weeks, they began to take up up progressively less space in renters’ minds in 2021.

For instance, searches for “apartment with balcony” and “renting with pets” or “pet-friendly rent” jumped in 2020 compared to 2019, but later stabilized in 2021. However, searches for “penthouse for rent” and “houses for rent,” maintained their steady growth into 2021 as well, a sign that while pets and plants may have been a fad, the need for more space definitely isn’t.

If the pandemic made anything abundantly clear, it’s that a man’s home is definitely not his castle. In fact, having to do everything from the comfort of out own homes was anything but comfortable. Therefore, it’s no wonder that lifestyles and expectations of the spaces we inhabit are changing. Fortunately, the space where these changes are instantly obvious, the online space, offers clues about present changes, as well as possible future challenges.


  • For this study, we looked at some of the most used and frequently occurring real estate terms in 2020 and 2021. We compared the number of average monthly searches in 2019 to searches in 2020 and 2021 to see the extent to which the pandemic might have influenced homebuyers’ and renters’ behavior, as well as homeowners’ preferences.
  • The keywords were split into three categories (homebuyers, renters, and homeowners), but some keywords may be indicative of more than one persona. For example, “apartment with balcony” and “movers near me” may be of interest to renters, as well as for homebuyers.
  • *Definition of Interest in Google Trends: Numbers represent search interest relative to the highest point on the chart for the given region and time. A value of 100 is the peak popularity for the term. A value of 50 means that the term is half as popular. A score of 0 means there was not enough data for this term. Also, a higher value means a higher proportion of all queries, not a higher absolute query count.

Fair use and redistribution

We encourage and freely grant permission to reuse, host or repost the story in this article. When doing so, we only ask that you kindly attribute the authors by linking to Point2Homes.com or this page so that your readers can learn more about this project, the research behind it and its methodology.

For an overview of the real estate market in popular areas across Canada, visit the links below:

Homes for sale in Toronto
Homes for sale in Edmonton
Homes for sale in Brampton
Homes for sale in Halifax
Homes for sale in Calgary
Homes for sale in Winnipeg
Homes for sale in Hamilton
Homes for sale in London
Homes for sale in Victoria
Homes for sale in Surrey
Homes for sale in Markham
Homes for sale in Kelowna
Homes for sale in Kitchener
Homes for sale in Saint John
Homes for sale in Moncton

Apartments for rent in Windsor
Apartments for rent in Saskatoon
Apartments for rent in Richmond Hill
Apartments for rent in Montreal
Apartments for rent in Mississauga
Apartments for rent in Kitchener
Apartments for rent in Toronto
Apartments for rent in Ottawa
Apartments for rent in Regina
Apartments for rent in Vancouver
Apartments for rent in Calgary
Apartments for rent in Hamilton
Apartments for rent in Brampton
Apartments for rent in Edmonton
Apartments for rent in Barrie

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