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Market Trends

Millennials Are Now the Largest Group of Home Buyers
And according to one new study, they have certain requirements for their homes

By Tim Nelson
December 16, 2019

You've surely heard it before: Millennials can’t afford to buy homes because they spend all of their money on lattes and avocado toast. But with National Association of Realtors data now indicating that millennials represent 37 percent of the home-buying public (the largest single demographic), it’s time for naysayers to take the millennial homeowner seriously.

According to a survey of the real estate market published in The Washington Post, millennial homeowners have specific, and sometimes uncompromising, preferences when it comes to the houses they buy. Though the degree of importance for each factor varies, it sounds as if the archetypal millennial is looking for an open-floor-plan property with outdoor space in a nice community that can be called home.

Most importantly, millennials are not really looking to buy a fixer-upper. “Millennials want almost instant HGTV-approved living,” Real estate agent Michelle Sagatov, who is based in Arlington, Virginia, told The Washington Post. “Buyers don’t want to have to do any renovation, especially not right away.”

For millennials, who are more likely to freelance or work remotely during this stage of life than prior generations, an ideal location is key. “As a whole, millennials are very interested in a sense of community and place a priority on the neighborhood,” Denver-based Re/Max real estate agent Kerron Stokes said. That sentiment was echoed by other agents who noted how a proliferation of transit options ranging from ride-sharing apps to bike lanes means that buying a home near a subway stop isn’t as important as being near friends and fun things to do. For new parents, the right school district is, as always, a strong consideration as well.

Though millennials have been slower than their parents to start raising children—for many of the same financial factors that delayed their entry into the home-buying market—space for four-legged members of the family is an important priority. Some millennials “are willing to take less square feet inside—or even give up a bedroom—in order to get a little bit of outdoor space,” Compass Real Estate executive vice president Trent Heminger told The Washington Post. And naturally, green space has massive draws for wellness-inclined humans as well as their pets.

If you're a home stager or developer who really wants to woo millennials, opt for the open floor plan. Whether it’s to provide more space for kids to move around or to create room for entertaining, younger home buyers don’t want walls getting in the way of their preferred lifestyle. And aesthetically, traditional elements like heavy curtains, fancy furniture, or anything that reeks of formality is out. Minimalist design and tech-driven touches (like outlets with USB ports) are the way to entice millennial buyers. Think “modern, sleek designs with clean lines and minimalist aesthetics,” Yuri Blanco, a broker based in Boise, Idaho, suggested. In addition to neutral colors and upgraded light fixtures, she said, “stainless-steel kitchens and simple cabinetry draw millennials in.”

Of course, preferences will vary by both taste and market. But given both the shift in circumstances and trends that separate them from prior waves of homeowners, it’s no surprise that what millennials want from a home diverges from what their parents once sought. But one thing is clear: Whoever figures out how to design homes that effectively speak to the newest and biggest crop of homeowners may just be able to afford an endless supply of avocado toast.