Millennials are not only the largest generation in America, they are also the largest generation of homebuyers in American history. More than 92 million people fall into the category of Millennial, and as you might expect, they have some fairly strong preferences when it comes to purchasing a home.
And Millennials do want to purchase homes. Although reports of disillusionment and financial struggles among this generation might indicate that homeownership isn’t a priority, about three quarters of Millennials aspire to own their own homes and see real estate as a good investment. That being said, what they are looking for in a home might surprise you.
You might think that Millennials would prefer to buy in urban neighborhoods – think cool industrial lofts within walking distance of several craft breweries – but the overwhelming preference of Millennials is for homes in suburban areas. In fact, studies have shown that only about 5-16 percent of Millennials want to buy property in the city, as in downtown or midtown Atlanta. Instead, they are looking for more space where they can raise their families for less money.
Within those suburban areas, Millennials want to buy homes in areas that have a strong sense of community. Many want to get involved in their neighborhood activities and have a sense of belonging, so they are interested in buying homes in active neighborhoods that have a lot going on and where people get to know their neighbors. This is why areas in Gwinnett and Cobb County are growing so fast. They offer the convenience of a city but the amenities and slower pace of a suburb.
Forget cookie cutter subdivisions and McMansions. Millennials are looking for homes with style and character, including pre-WWII historic homes, mid-century modern (i.e., anything built between 1945 and 1965), and Mediterranean style homes with tile floors, rounded edges, and stucco exteriors. Millennials are turned off by styles from the 1970s through the 1990s, and by homes that lack any real character or design elements.
Regardless of a home’s style, Millennials have clear preferences for the size and layout. They prefer small to midsize homes (2,400 square feet is the most sought-after size) with an open concept floor plan and three bedroom and two baths.
Several key features are highly sought after by Millennials, which all center around the livability of the home. More than any previous generation, Millennials are focused on how well a home supports their lifestyle, whether that includes regular entertaining friends or using technology to make everyday life easier. With that in mind, Millennials often look for properties that include:
Large, modern kitchens. Tops on the list for many Millennial buyers are kitchen featuring high-end appliances (including wine coolers) in stainless steel, islands, and custom cabinetry with plenty of storage. Countertops made from unique materials like concrete or exotic stone. In short, they want luxury and unusual features, the more expensive the better.
Smart homes. It’s probably not too much of a surprise that Millennials look for smart homes, with homes already equipped with the best home security systems, voice-activated assistants, lighting controls, and energy efficiency features. In short, if it’s possible to start the oven, turn on the lights, and see who is at the door from their phones, Millennials are likely to pay more for a property.
Outdoor areas. More than any other generation, Millennials are looking for homes with substantial outdoor living areas. Although many note they currently only use their outdoor spaces for grilling and occasional dining, they also express a desire for spaces that can accommodate (or already have) a full outdoor kitchen and living space that can be furnished and decorated like an interior room.
Specialty rooms. Although many real estate experts caution against marketing homes with rooms dedicated to a single purpose (i.e., showing a bedroom as a home office) Millennials actually want homes with rooms dedicated to specific activities and purposes. Dedicated home work spaces are in the most demand, as well as laundry rooms, playrooms for children, media rooms, and wine cellars.
Hardwood floors. Carpets are a no-go for many Millennials, who do not want to spend time cleaning them or dealing with stains and odors. Hardwood floors, especially those made from bamboo or exotic hardwoods, are a must for most buyers in this demographic.
Understanding what Millennials are looking for is important if you want to market your home to this large group of potential home buyers. Investing in some changes to your home before putting it on the market, such as upgrading appliances or staging an outdoor living area, can increase its appeal and help it sell more quickly for a higher price.