The Modern Checklist: What Millennial Homebuyers are Prioritizing

Written by Posted On Friday, 09 November 2018 16:07

Three decades ago, your parents may have included shag carpeting, floral wallpaper and a formica kitchen countertop on their dream home wishlist. Today, all of those things would be considered outdated, though many can make a case for the revival and comeback of the wallpaper trend.


The point? What homebuyers want and are drawn to change with the times. Details that were must-haves only a few years ago, including granite countertops and stainless steel appliances, aren’t as essential anymore. Rather, they’re being replaced by new tastes and perspectives that are changing the real estate game entirely. We’re talking about the millennial home buying generation -- who, according to industry reports, are buying more homes than ever before, even amid the renter-only box they’re often put in.


What does today’s millennial home buyer want? The answers might surprise you. Especially in an age of Instagram and Pinterest, where dream home fodder is readily available, the responses are surprisingly non-materialistic. Let’s take a look at what they’re after, and how agents can best position their listings to catch their eye.


1. Suburban Homes over City Dwellings

Though the stereotypical image of a millennial is someone who wants to live with as little footprint as possible, commuting a few blocks to work with an overpriced coffee in hand, the reality is that’s not quite what they’re after.


In fact, only around 5% to 6% of millennials report that they want to live within the limits of a major city. Conversely, around 65% prefer to live in the suburbs, where they can access major entertainment, work and dining options relatively quickly, but can also enjoy a little privacy and nature. Keep in mind, however, that this applies only to buyers. Renters in this sector still prefer to live temporarily in more urban areas.


2. Two-Story, Open Concepts

This is arguably the checklist item that can be most expected from this buying group. In the past decade, designers, architects and builders have transitioned away from one-story, ranch-style homes with multiple segmented rooms into a more open-concept layout. Here, the kitchen and living room are often imagined as one continuous, flowing space that allows for easier foot traffic navigation.


Moreover, they’re also seeking a two-story home with a little under 2,500 square feet. When it comes to bedrooms and bathrooms, three or four beds are preferred while two or two and a half baths are ideal. One reason open concepts are such popular decisions? Millennial homebuyers, arguably more than any group that came before them, are concerned with the way a home fits their lifestyle. Is it conducive to social gatherings? Are there plenty of places for the kids to do homework? What about a drop zone for book bags, purses, coats and umbrellas? The more a home can match the quick pace of its residents, the better suited it will be for them in the long run.


3. A Laundry Room

Yes, this is the generation that has never known a world without some form of the internet. Yes, they have access to the latest and greatest smart home technology around. To this end, most of them are cashing in on this opportunity and outfitting their properties with programmable thermostats, whole-house security systems and more. Yet, these features aren’t entirely what’s selling them. What is? A laundry room.


The idea of not having to tout their dirty clothes to a laundromat is enough to sell this group on a property and the converse also holds true. Recent surveys reveal more than half of today’s millennial homebuyers, around 55% report that they will not buy a home that does not include a fully functioning laundry room. Other surprising elements that topped their list? Exterior lighting came in second, followed closely by strategic storage, such as linen closets or walk-in pantries.


4. Traditional Styling

You’d think this demographic would be the most drawn to uber-cool, highly modern and contemporary designs. Yet, in one research study, a majority pointed to a more traditional home style over any other. Thus, real estate agents looking to appeal to today’s buyer should consider all options when showing their listings. Rather than focus on space that are brand-new or newly renovated, consider other models that might be more traditional in nature.


This is also a space where house-and-land combination units are becoming increasingly popular. Under this model, buyers not only get a custom-built home, but they are also purchasing the land it comes with. These packages are especially appealing to buyers as they allow them to design the home of their dreams from the ground up, without worrying about working around existing walls, fixtures and other limitations. As such, they’re seeking to discover more about these options and how they can find their dream home in such a location. As an agent, keep in mind you’ll need to steer them toward appropriate financing options that are designed to facilitate house-and-land purchases.


Making the Case for Home: Checking All the Points on Today’s Checklist

Millennials might be a hard sell, but it’s not because they’re overly picky. The reverse actually holds true in most cases. They’ve fined-tuned what they want and why, and they’re not willing to settle if they can help it. Closing a deal, then, means taking less hashing out wants versus needs, and more time actively viewing properties that make the cut. This change in perspective is to be expected and is indicative of patterns and movements to come. Ultimately, that’s the beauty of home buying. Each new generation brings with it a fresh perspective, new ideas and varying wishlists that comprise the overall market landscape.

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