Millennials now make up the largest demographic of home buyers, according to the National Association of REALTORS® 2019 Home Buyers and Sellers Generational Trends Report. And as this generation floods the housing market, real estate agents have to ask themselves one simple question: What do millennials look for in a home?
Millennials desire some of the same things their parents did, such as great location. But they also look for modern elements that previous generations didn’t. And it’s not just the house features themselves that REALTORS® have to consider. Millennials also shop for homes differently than older generations, and the housing market must adapt to keep up.
What Millennials Want In A Home
Millennial home buyers entering the housing market creates new challenges for REALTORS®. Millennials are buying homes later in life than previous generations and are doing away with many of the traditional home elements their parents desired. Trends among millennials include a desire for multifunctional and community spaces, and homes with modern, sustainable elements.
Some things remain the same across all generations; the importance of location. Research has shown that millennials want to live close to work and things to do. This is a huge deciding factor for them when choosing a home.
You would think that urban areas would accommodate this request more than the suburbs, but this may not be 100% true. Those between ages 25 – 34 are less likely to live in urban areas. This illustrates that an urban lifestyle may not always be the perfect fit for this generation.
According to Traditional Home Editor-in-Chief Jill Waage, “Seventy-five percent of millennials want relaxing outdoor spaces,” including amenities like vegetable gardens, decks and fences.
When it comes to prepping your home for the millennial buyer, spend some time focusing on curb appeal. Is there sufficient space for relaxing or an outdoor gathering? It doesn’t have to be the large backyard with a white picket fence, but make sure it’s a space that prospective home buyers could feel comfortable in with their friends (or a good book). There are plenty of great small yard landscaping ideas.
You should also think about outdoor extras that you could throw in with the purchase. Could you include a grill? How about the riding lawn mower? A perk can do wonders when it comes to any potential home buyer.
Millennial home buyers list large kitchens as one of their top priorities when buying a home. And while the Gen X and baby-boomer generations leaned toward formal dining rooms, millennials prefer open floor plans where the kitchen, dining and living areas are all connected.
Millennials value community, cooking and entertaining. The large kitchen and open floor plan, complete with a kitchen island and informal seating, are a huge selling point.
While space isn’t as big of a concern for most millennials, they want their homes to come with modern, high-functioning amenities. This includes items like dishwashers, washers and dryers, and space to exercise. If you’re selling a condo, having access to personal amenities isn’t necessarily a must. In a study by the National Association of Home Builders, more than 80% of millennials want things like laundry rooms, hardwood floors, patios and garage storage.
Home automation is another amenity that piques the interest of millennials. Many want the ability to interact with their homes in the same way they do with their smartphones. There are varying levels to the smart house setup, whether that’s automated security, heating and cooling, lights – the list goes on. But if you really want to appeal to millennials, start thinking about ways to make your home more tech-savvy.
Millennials are focused on their home’s impact on the environment and their overall energy consumption. When marketing your home to the millennial buyer, consider how your house can follow that narrative. There are a wide variety of ways to make your home more energy efficient, many of which can be quickly implemented. Not only will these changes appeal to their values, but they’ll also help millennials save money.
Millennials expect all things to be quick, efficient and long-lasting. They’re a microwave generation, and convenience is of the utmost importance.
When prepping your home to sell, think about renovations that speak to the utility-focused millennial. Consider switching out carpeting – which stains easily and requires regular vacuuming – for hardwood floors. Similarly, synthetic or composite decking might appeal to them over a traditional wooden deck. Often made of recycled materials, this option will need only a periodic clean with soapy water.
And these low-maintenance options can even extend into the yard. Take a look at xeriscaping, which is energy efficient and requires less time mowing during summer.
While we can’t put all millennials in a single category, there appears to be a trend of pursuing interior layouts with more open space that can easily be used for multiple purposes. They do this both for social and practical reasons.
Socially speaking, this allows them to interact casually with guests throughout the entire house. They aren’t confined to just hosting in the dining room. They have the option to move around the home and entertain casually.
When it comes to smaller homes and condos, having multifunctional spaces is also a necessity. In an interview with REALTOR® Magazine, East Coast-based architect Arthur Lasky explains that “Exercise equipment may share space in a bedroom, and a hammock may get tucked away into a dining corner if there’s little outdoor space.”
As you’re prepping your home for millennial buyers, make sure you show off your home’s versatility. You don’t necessarily need to knock down a wall to create a more open floor plan. Start by shopping at a store like IKEA or the Container Store, where you can see different ways to use your home’s space.
What Millennials Want In A Listing
Most importantly, you absolutely need to have pictures in your online listing. This is a must whether you’re marketing to millennials or anyone else. The quality of the pictures needs to be up to snuff as well. Make sure the house’s lights are on – try to rely on natural lighting as much as possible – and check that the camera is steady.
It’s essential that you use a good camera. It may not make sense to take a picture with your phone. If you’re trying to gauge this, take a step back and consider if the image would be good enough for HGTV. If not, try again with better equipment.
You can potentially hire a photographer to take a few shots, or you could borrow or rent a camera to take your own photos. If you’re going to do it on your own, try to get a camera that has at least 5 megapixels. The point is that your photos need to stand out against other images on home listing sites. Think about it like any other social media posting. You’re competing with everyone else who’s selling a house. If you wouldn’t give it a “like” on Instagram, it’s not ready for its big debut.
This shouldn’t be your grandma’s house. The knickknacks, flowery wallpaper and dust need to go. Staging is a must, specifically when marketing to the millennial home buyer. For many of this generation, this will be their first time buying a home. Staging will give them a visual of how they could live in this space.
While there are a variety of considerations for decorating and updating, there are a few key areas where you should start. Cleaning and decluttering are a must. You’ll also want to depersonalize your space. After all, you’re not trying to sell the house to you. You’re trying to make it appealing to a wide variety of prospective home buyers.
While you shouldn’t try to mislead the prospective homeowner about your property, do your due diligence to make your home appear and feel as comfortable as possible. In many cases, it may make sense to stage your place with home decor to give it a more modern aesthetic.
If you want to go the extra mile, there are some other options to market your home. One often underutilized way is the use of infographics. These are illustrated images that take a lot of information and simplify it through easy-to-understand pictures. This allows you to highlight how your home stands out above the rest, including the improvements you recently made.
And you don’t have to be an artist to have this done. There are websites like Fiverr that will team you up with infographic specialists. For around $25, you can send in some facts about your home, and an artist will generate an easy-to-understand – and aesthetically pleasing – infographic. You can then either upload that infographic with your real estate listing, or you can provide a physical copy at an open house.
Social Media Presence
Millennials do a large amount of their shopping online. House hunting is no different. They’re more likely to browse the web than visit homes they want to buy. They can see everything they need right from the comforts of the couch. If you want to sell your house to a millennial, it helps to have a large social media presence to get their attention. If you think a few pictures will fly, you’re mistaken. They need to see every room of the house.
Using other social media platforms can also inspire them to be interested in a home. Try Instagram stories or Snapchat to pique their interest. The more buzz you build around a home, the more likely this generation will be interested in buying it.
Younger millennials grew up attached to their phones. They browse social media while texting their friends. They prefer digital communication to picking up a phone and calling someone. When home shopping, they look for this same experience.
If they have a question, they generally want it answered instantaneously while continuing their day. They don’t want to be constantly pushed or called. They need space to make their decision and if they want to buy a house, they’ll make it known.
The Bottom Line
Millennials are taking the housing market by storm, and they’re looking for something different than previous generations of home buyers. Sellers and real estate agents should keep this demographic in mind when preparing a house since they now make up the largest share of home buyers. If you’re planning to sell your home, speak to a Home Loan Expert to prepare for your next home purchase.