Hardly a day goes by without a news story lamenting the fact that Millennials no longer buy something – from declining sales of breakfast cereal, to diamond rings, napkins, golf clubs, three-piece suits – even the humble bar of soap has seen its sales fall, supposedly thanks to the shifting attitudes and interests of this fickle age cohort.
And while it may be true that younger people are not buying much life insurance, for example, the housing market is one area where Millennials are actually not just active, but driving much of the conversation. For about four years, people those born between 1980 and 2000 have dominated the housing market. They comprise an estimated 34 percent of overall purchasers and nearly 66 percent of first-time home buyers.
Since Millennial tastes are burning up the real estate market, it’s a great time to look at six home features and trends that ignite their passions.
Multi-Purpose Open Spaces
To a Millennial, a formal dining table may as well be a storage shelf for all its day-to-day usefulness. Younger buyers eschew the room-and-hallway divisions of the iconic American Ranch and instead, they desire open floor plans. In the modern home, where food preparation may be a rare event and telecommuting increasingly prevails, traffic should flow freely from kitchen to office to living area. Dad prepares dinner at the kitchen island; the kids play board games in the breakfast nook; Mom plunks out a research article in the office alcove. These spaces are delineated by furniture focal points and architectural transitions, not by harsh walls. Placing nooks, bump-outs and alcoves around the perimeter of large living spaces juxtaposes private pursuits, such as reading and homework, with social events, such as holiday dinners and movie nights.
A home without 24/7/365 cellular service may as well be perched on Alaska’s Prudhoe Bay. Millennials check everything from their weather predictions to their relationship status online. That means they love lightning-fast Internet speeds and a GFCI outlet always within arm’s reach. Younger people increasingly leverage technology to fight life’s pet peeves. One study by Schlage and Wakefield Research found that 86 percent of Millennials would pay 20 percent more for a “smart” home – one with lighting controls, smart locks, smart thermostats, or a built in home security system.
The typical Millennial’s budget is already filled with recurring payments such as cell phone plans, healthcare premiums, student loan payments, automobile insurance, Netflix subscriptions, etc. More than any generation before, Millennials understand the financial drain of ongoing costs, and they also tend to care strongly about the environment – so managing their use of energy at home is a big priority. Millennials would rather pay money now to save money later, whether that means low-flow shower heads, triple-pane windows, or super-insulated wall assemblies.
Smart tech is increasingly the most important way to make an impact on home energy efficiency – smart power outlets can help eliminate phantom power drain, and connected thermostats can optimize home heating and cooling systems automatically without any effort from the homeowner.
Contrary to many negative stereotypes, Millennials do work, and work hard. Who has time to water the flowers, mow the loan, scrub the siding, wax the floors and polish the silver? Maintenance is a four-letter word. This generation wants low-maintenance finishes and surfaces like stone countertops, engineered wood floors, black stainless steel appliances and xeriscaped yards.
Quick, Easy Commute
By the time Millennials prepare to purchase a home, they have likely delayed their marriage, postponed kids, jump-started their careers, and finished their education. Their party-till-you-drop days, spent in studio apartments in the gentrified downtown neighborhoods of Portland, Denver and Atlanta, are over. They want the suburbs. They also want a short commute. Almost 70% of Millennials cite a short commute as the critical factor when purchasing a home. This is the not the generation interested in executing meticulous lawn checkerboard patterns in isolated farmhouse retreats. It’s all about – say it with me – location, location, location.
Fully Furnished Homes
Millennials move often, and though 1 in 5 do move home at some point in their early adulthood, they also move cross country frequently. Rather than renting a Noah’s Ark-sized U-Haul every three years, Millennials would rather purchase a home fully furnished. Major appliances such as a refrigerator, stove, oven, dishwasher, microwave, washer and dryer are just the appetizers. Many shoppers want couches, chairs, beds, tables, mirrors, bathroom towels and shower curtains, please and thank you! But if you are staging a home for Millennial buyers, be sure to use modern furnishings – hardwood floors, neutral colors, and lots of space in between furniture that looks of-the-moment and presents clean lines is sure to go over well.
Millennials have a megaphone in this bull housing market. They are not enticed by mere square footage. These young, savvy buyers want self-regulating HVAC systems, energy-efficient design, and home automation technologies. In sum, they want “smart” homes – and a smart real estate agent will find the match.
Contributor Bio: Emma Bailey is a freelance writer and blogger from the Midwest. After going to Chicago in Florida, she relocated to Chicago, where she lives with a roommate and two rabbits, and writes about home technology and the environment.