The Millennials – Housing, Habits & Influences

Generation X, birth year 1965-1980, has been expressing concern over the future of our country in the hands of the next generation.  These young people, born roughly between 1980-2000, 18-35 years old, who go by Generation Y, Generation Next and Millennials, have been criticized by some as short-sighted, unmotivated and even lazy.  As a Realtor, Baby Boomer and mother of two Generation Nexters, I see things differently.  Millennials were hit by a terrible recession in their financially formative years, so it’s not all that shocking that 1 in 4 Millennials still live with their parents.  They’re slower to do the type of things that earlier generations saw as rites of passage into adulthood.  We married and often had children in our early 20’s, where this generation is waiting until late 20’s or even 30’s to “settle down.”  Where many see the delay in adulthood as a dark omen for America’s future, many economists see a brighter dawn just over the horizon.  Where Gen Xers have worked hard and have a lot to show for their efforts, Millennials are spending an alarming $1.3 trillion annually, with an “experiences over things,” “FOMO” (fear of missing out) and “YOLO” (you only live once) mentality.  They love doing everything with their friends – going to restaurants, packing in as many activities as possible and taking trips rather than amassing wealth or having large houses.  That doesn’t mean that Gen Y’s aren’t buying houses; in fact they made up a modest but respectable 31% of recent home purchases.  However, when Millennials enter the housing market, they bring a whole new list of must-haves. They will also buy as individuals, or with a partner or friend, and not wait to be married as criteria for home acquisition. Millennials are also bringing their friends to see/approve of homes they’d like to buy.  Peer validation is important!

Priorities:  Generation Y trends toward urban rather than suburban life since they value proximity to friends and activities over the size of their abode.  There are those married Millennials, often with children, who choose more suburban locals which offer a sense of community and the availability of the things they most value nearby.  Lifestyle and community over property and functionality over size are key factors in their home search.  A majority of Millennials are more interested in being near shopping, dining, work and entertainment than in having a large yard.  And speaking of yards and everything else in need of attention around the house, generally (and please keep that in mind for all the Millennial characterization) Millennials are looking for low hassle, low maintenance living – they want to do it quickly or outsource it!

Living “green” matters to a large number of Millennials.  Homes with attributes such as energy efficient appliances, solar sources and natural insulation are in demand.  These features aren’t as crucial as updated kitchens and bathrooms, but they do matter in the final decision for many young homebuyers who are not looking for a big project house.  As does high tech capabilities, media space and outdoor features which help to expand the living space.

Many Millennials have been exposed to cultural diversity and accept differences in race and sexuality more readily than previous generations.  That’s a good thing for more than just the obvious, in that Millennials are open to moving into any number of urban neighborhoods.  Many members of Generation Next are actually looking for vibrant, culturally diverse communities.  Another feature they’re seeking is the “walkability” of the community. Millennials are wary of the expense of having a personal vehicle and parking, especially in urban areas.  For that reason, “walkability” is a huge factor for this generation as they shop for their first home.

The Millennials are “a cultural bud on the verge of blossoming,” as the next generation begins to settle down (maybe?), purchase homes and have children as older, more mature parents with a good idea of what they want and how to get it.  Recent surveys indicate 70% of the Gen Y’s would like to buy a home in the next two to three years.  They view the purchase as short lived, 5 years or so, not long term.  It will be their first house, not their forever one!  The Millennials are 100 million strong and 1/3 of the population in the United States. They are the next Real Estate Boom!

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