Millennials to Shape Housing Preferences – Once They Start Buying

outdoor living room

Millennials place a premium on casual, comfortable outdoor spaces for entertaining friends and family, Better Homes and Gardens research shows.

The millennial generation is poised to make a significant impact on home design with its strong preferences for energy efficiency and smart-home technology; comfortable and workable kitchens; and more casual spaces, said speakers today from NAHB and Better Homes and Gardens.

But first, they have to move out of their parents’ homes and into a place of their own, said NAHB Assistant Vice President for Surveys and Research Rose Quint. About 15% of adults ages 25-34 live with a parent, about 3% more than the highest share of 12% between 1983 and 2007. That translates into 1.3 million people who normally “would be out there, forming their own households, demanding their own units,” either as buyers or renters, she said.

Quint had anticipated the new mortgage programs and looser mortgage insurance requirements that were unveiled a year ago would have led to an increase in consumers buying homes for the first time. But a look at the size of the typical new single-family home in 2015 found the opposite: home sizes grew to an average of 2,721 square feet, the highest yet, and an indication that the new-home market continues to be dominated by move-up buyers, rather than first-time buyers.

“Before we see that expected pullback in square footage and price, we’re going to have to see a significant return of the first-time buyer,” who is more likely to buy a smaller home at a lower price point, Quint said.

This year, home buyers say they are looking for homes with separate laundry rooms, Energy Star-rated appliances and windows, exterior lighting and a patio.

What they don’t want are rooms with cork flooring, elevators, pet washing stations, expansive outdoor kitchens and fireplaces, and two-story entryways and family rooms. And their countertops should be granite, but never laminate, according to a fall 2015 survey of potential buyers.

In terms of house type, buyers want a detached, single-family home: 65% of all buyers and 68% of millennials expressed that preference. That number rises to 72% among Gen-Xers (born between 1965 and 1979) but falls somewhat to 55% of those born before 1945, Quint said.

Better Homes and Gardens Brand Executive Editor Jill Waage echoed Quint’s findings on preferences for well-equipped kitchens and casual, comfortable living spaces – especially outdoor living rooms, where millennials want to entertain their families and friends.

What’s important about this generation is their comfort with technology. Millenials are “leading the way on this,” Waage said. “They are the first generation to walk into homeownership with a smartphone in their hands.”

These millennials want to use technology to make entertainment choices easier, monitor the comings and goings of packages, repairmen and their children, and improve their health and well-being. When it comes to product choices, “they’ve read the ratings, comments and reviews, and they know what it’s worth,” and have probably created a Google alert so they know when it’s on sale, she said.

Their home improvement preferences center on home organization and workspaces, as the separation between working in an office and telecommuting continues to blur.

“This generation is searching out ideas, following bloggers,” and creating Pinterest boards with their preferences, Waage said. “They’ve already curated their dream home online, saving it on their boards so they can [be ready] when the day finally comes.”

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  1. Mark Bunting says:

    With 29 years in the mortgage business, I find this very interesting and hopefully revolutionary. Homeownership still takes too long and is too labor intensive; and excruciatingly painful a process – I think the millennials will be game changers.

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