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The 3 Things Millennials Want in a Home

by Peter Thomas Ricci

Millennials represent the new frontier for homeownership, and a new survey from BHG offers some key insights in what kinds of homes they’ll be looking for.

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Millennials, the current wing of the U.S. population that is roughly composed of 18 to 35 year olds, represents the next great phase of homeownership for the U.S. housing market. With baby boomers retiring and entering their golden years, millennials – all 45.8 million of them – will be taking up the mantle of housing demand for the next 30-odd years.

Given that millennials grew up under profoundly different circumstances than their parents, though, real estate agents are faced with a most important question – what, exactly, are millennials looking for in a residence?

Thankfully, Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate has provided an excellent starting point to answering that question. Surveying 1,000 individuals within the millennial age brackets, the survey isolated three main wants that millennials have regarding homeownership. They are:

1. Home Improvement – Not only do 30 percent of millennials prefer fixer-uppers to to homes with minimal repairs, but 47 percent would prefer to fix home maintenance problems themselves, rather than hire a professional – and as if that weren’t enough, 72 percent consider themselves just as (if not more) handy than their parents.

Interestingly, Chris McComas, an agent with @properties in Chicago’s West Loop, said the majority of his deals with millennials do not quite match those characteristics. Though he’s heard from associates that millennials prefer fixer-uppers, his batch of buyers are taking whatever properties they can get their hands on for one simple reason – inventory. Because inventory in his markets is so low, McComas said buyers do not really have the luxury to be picky and choose one property over another; but when they do find a property, it’s always a good thing.

“Buyers are ecstatic,” he said.

2. Size (Doesn’t) Matter – The McMansion had a nice run with baby boomer homebuyers in the ’90s and early ’00s, but it seems to have met its match with millennial homebuyers. Seventy-seven percent of millennials prefer an “essential” living space to a stereotypically expansive home, and 43 percent did not want “cookie cutter” properties.

3. A PhD Residence – That being said, millennials do not want dated residences. Fifty-six percent value home technology capabilities over curb appeal, and 64 percent would pass on a property that was not up-to-date with the latest tech; furthermore, 84 percent considered tech an absolute essential to their home search.

So, millennials want homes that are technologically updated, yet not the massive, commonplace single-family properties that became so recognizable in the last 20 years. And as Sherry Chris, the president and CEO of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate, explained, it’ll be essential that agents understand these characteristics.

“It’s critical that real estate professionals understand what embodies a quintessential home for the Millennial generation, which vastly differs from the traditional norms of generations before them,” Chris said. “Understanding technologies to communicate with this generation is now only one piece of the puzzle for agents; ‘smart’ technological capabilities must now be ingrained into the home itself.”

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