Anyone born between 1981 and 1996, currently between the ages of 23 to 38, is considered a millennial. Anyone born from 1997 onward is part of a new generation. According to Zillow, millennials account for 42% of all homebuyers who purchased a home in the last year and for 61% of all households that are buying homes for the first time.
What are millennials looking for? What are their priorities and how have their needs as housing consumers influenced or changed the real estate marketplace?
Open floor plans combining family rooms with kitchen and dining areas, a great-room feel, are generally the most sought-after layouts. Special-use rooms, like media rooms, gyms or workout areas, maybe a yoga studio, wine cellar and playroom for kids, are all features young buyers like. Other priorities are to have a space to work from home such as an office or library and an outside play area for the children. Green space outside doesn’t need to be acres, just enough to toss a ball or maybe have a small garden. Many young buyers want to make sure they have an outdoor area because they own a dog or plan on getting one. City transplants are specifically interested in an outdoor area as that is a feature they are lacking in Manhattan or the boroughs.
In Westchester, walkability to the center of town and accessibility to the train for an easy commute are also key components of the millennial home search. Homes closer to or walkable to the train are generally smaller and on smaller properties, but some buyers don’t mind because of the lifestyle it affords. They are leaving Brooklyn or Manhattan where they can walk to the corner store or dine at a restaurant down the block. They often try to replicate that lifestyle in Westchester. Some want more property and have to give up that walkability factor.
Move-in condition is probably the most sought-after housing characteristic. Many times both parents are working and they do not want to do a renovation if they can help it. Some will work from home a couple of days a week, which also makes doing a renovation difficult.
From a financial perspective, with interest rates as low as they are, many millennials see it as a better investment to buy a house that is already renovated. Even if they pay more for the house because it is turnkey, they are able to finance that updated home without using cash after the closing and going through the cost and the hassle of the renovation. That is why homes that have been renovated sell at a premium and often in a bidding war even in our current marketplace, which is definitely more of a buyer’s market in many areas.
In preparing your home to sell, making small changes that won’t cost you that much is important when trying to attract the millennial buyer. Gray or “Greige” (a cross between gray and beige) walls, or a neutral color that exudes calmness and organization, should be considered. Light gray is the current favorite. People are buying a lifestyle and aspire to the lifestyle you present. If your home is clean and well organized, a buyer looks at that and thinks that he or she will adopt that lifestyle when they move into the house.
Millennials have very little vision as they are walking through a house. They have grown up with HGTV and their expectation as far as how they want to live and what a home should look like is relatively high. Staging is also a very good investment and is something that is done in most homes even if it is just to depersonalize and add some updated accessories to give it a bit of bling!
Younger millennials have student debt, which is one reason millennials have put off their first purchase longer than previous generations. The younger millennials tend to need more guidance and advice because this is the first time they are buying real estate. The older millennials may have already owned a home and gone through the experience of buying. Purchasing a home, whether it is a co-op apartment or multimillion-dollar estate, is still something young people are aspiring to.
Debra Goodwin is a licensed real estate salesperson with William Raveis Legends Realty Group. She can be reached at Debra.Goodwin@raveis.com.