BY Kate May
Global dynamics are changing and the millennial generation is emerging as a dominant force in the housing market. They may still have limited budgets, but understanding their “must have” needs is the key to selling to them.
According to a 2016 study on generational housing trends in the United States by the National Association of Realtors, millennials or Generation Y, those born between 1980 and 2000, comprise the largest segment of the global buyer market (35 per cent), ahead of Generation X (26 per cent), those born between 1965 and 1979.
Together, these two generations broadly represent today’s younger set of consumers, who generally fall into one of the two categories.
They are young professionals who prefer a turnkey home that needs little or no work. Or they are creative or romantic buyers who want to invest sweat equity and money over time, and put their personal stamp on the property and add value for the future.
Although these two groups may seem to want entirely different things from a home, many estate agents say younger buyers of all stripes have a lot common values as well as similar demands on their must-have list.
For example, new fixtures are important for young, budget-conscious homebuyers. The main reason young buyers seek updated kitchen and bathroom is because they have limited budgets. Most of their savings are channelled toward the downpayment and furnishings.
Kitchens and bathrooms are also the most expensive parts of a home to update, and young homeowners cannot afford to sink a lot of money into those areas.
A big kitchen and an open floor concept are also priorities. Today, the formal dining room has little appeal among the new generation. The kitchen has become the hangout room that offers an easy transition to the TV room. Essentially, the kitchen is seen as a component of a seamless living and entertaining area.
Today’s young buyers are also more attracted to an open floor plan rather than a layout that compartmentalises the home. The reason has a lot to do with how younger homeowners entertain – they want people to flow through the home during gatherings rather than be sectioned off in isolated rooms.
Another big trend emergence is the home office. Today, more than 13 million Americans work from home. According to the most current US Census data and all signs point to this trend
continuing, this makes the home office an important property product in the foreseeable future.
Home offices have vast appeal, and not just for those who plan to work from home full time. As technology makes people more mobile, young buyers have more options than ever to work from home on a periodic and optional basis. This means a home needs to double as operational space from time to time.
Having a dedicated space is important because it will help keep them focused on work while they are at home on a Skype call, planning a presentation, setting up their workday or simply paying the bills.
Even the definition of a good location has shifted slightly. Younger buyers tend to look for properties that are in proximity to public transportation and have a good walking score.
Young buyers may prefer to be close to the action of the city while young couples with children prefer something more residential and close to lifestyle and shopping amenities.
We are also living in a period of financial austerity, which means young buyers look for homes that are low maintenance. Low upkeep features such as wood floors (as opposed to carpets) and granite countertops are positives for this generation because they are attractive and relatively hassle-free.
Estate agents also see a generational shift toward a society that is more disposable where homeowners prefer to replace rather than repair. Most young homebuyers grew up watching their parents spend weekends doing chores and are not keen to follow in their footsteps.
They want to do their stuff. They want their weekends to themselves and do not want to be cleaning gutters or cutting grass.
Today, young buyers also want to know more about tech, and hear about wireless services and internet, not cable TV or the telephone line. Even if some of these buyers purchase a home that comes with a landline phone, it is rarely used.
In some cases, a property’s appeal can be increased or diminished because of the strength of a mobile carrier’s signal or its internet service provider options.
With energy costs on the rise and growing interest in protecting the environment, young buyers are also conscious of buying homes that have green credentials. This is a trend that goes beyond young buyers and is beginning to appeal to a vast majority of consumers who are looking for energy efficient homes to cut down cost and reduce their carbon footprint.
If developers are serious about attracting young buyers, they also need to think about how the property is represented online, where the home searching begins for much of the younger generation.
Professional photography that shows the home in its best light on a web page has become a key factor, or they will move on before even stepping foot in the door.
Similarly, do not underestimate the importance of quality online listing sites. According to the National Association of Realtors, 88 per cent of buyers use the internet to search for homes, including 94 per cent of millennials.