The sheer size of the Baby Boomer generation enabled the 78 million members to dominate the consumer marketplace for generations. Now, 87 Millennials (also known as Gen Y and Echo Boomers)—born between 1980 and 2000—are taking over. With a large number now in the homebuying age range, homebuilders are taking a close look at this unique demographic segment, which happens to view their “dream home” in a very different way from their parents and grandparents.
For one thing, they’re more cautious. They’ve seen older family members and friends lose big time in the real estate market. Many of them are comfortable renting, or moving back in with their parents for an undefined period of time, to the chagrin of mom and dad.
So, they don’t seem to be in a rush, but a recent Redfin Research Center survey showed that, of the 2,000 Millennials between the ages of 18 and 34 who responded, 92 percent who do not currently own a home plan to buy one in the near future.
What do Millennials want in a new home? Here are some important trends:
They aren’t seeking their “location, location, location” in suburbia. Millennials love their independence. They’ve grown up with the technology that keeps them wirelessly connected with their vast world, so they’re not accustomed to restraints. This includes vehicles. Millennials are often attracted to urban locales, within walking distance of or public transport to the services they need.
Size matters, as long as it’s small. Unlike Baby Boomers who enjoyed spreading out, Millennials look for less space and more flexibility. They want functional space that maximizes every square foot, and open floor plans. A formal dining or living room has far less appeal than an open space, like a great room or media room. A kitchen island should serve as both a prep and conversational/eating area.
Green is their favorite color. Expect your Millennial homebuyers to ask about the sustainability of your building materials and practices. They are committed to eco-friendly, energy-efficient homes—with ENERGY STAR appliances, programmable lighting and thermostats, and other high-tech, low-carbon-footprint amenities. Not only can they spell “LEED”, but they want this building certification.
Carefree is preferred. No one really likes unnecessary effort, but Millennials zoom in on low-maintenance features. Features like easy-care flooring and a gas fireplace give them more freedom without compromise. They also don’t concern themselves with large outdoor spaces, as long as they have room for play, cooking, and entertaining.
They know they get dirty. While a mudroom has been an afterthought in the past, Millennials have revived this functional space for organizing clutter. It’s a small space, but a big plus to these homebuyers.
Showers and closets can never be too large. Your Gen Y/Millennial/Echo Boomer homebuyer wants their living space to work intelligently. When it comes to the bathroom shower and storage, that means, go big. Incorporate plenty of storage space and walk-in closets. Make the shower larger, even eliminating the tub altogether.
The Millennial generation sees their home as a life comfort. It’s not a status symbol, nor do they view it with the same investment potential as their elders. By understanding the mindset of this growing number of new homebuyers, you can better guide them toward the right home.