Personal Finance

How Millennials Are Reshaping Real Estate

Anyone who watches HGTV consistently is probably getting tired of hearing the phrases “open concept” and “updated kitchen” ad infinitum.

Anyone who watches HGTV consistently is probably getting tired of hearing the phrases “open concept” and “updated kitchen” ad infinitum. Indeed, those phrases may be about to change, driven by Millennials who are more concerned with what Mother Nature has to offer, and have no desire to show off.

If you want to sell your house to a Millennial--and chances are, demographically, that’s who you’ll sell to--it’s got to have curb appeal.

According to the new survey by the National Association of Landscape Professionals, nearly 80 percent of homebuyers in the United States want a spacious and well-maintained lawn.

It used to be that curb appeal was just an added benefit. Now, it’s a necessity.

And part of the reason, according to a study conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of SunTrust Mortgage, is uniquely demographic: Millennials like dogs and there is a trend to focus on pets before getting married and starting a family.

The real estate market can’t afford to ignore the Millennials, either.  This generation numbers some 80 million in the U.S. alone, and has emerged as the dominant force in the housing market--reshaping everything to meet their needs and demands.

According to the National Association of Realtors’ study of generational housing trends, Millennials comprise the largest segment of the buyers’ market at 35%, ahead of Generation X, which comprises 26%.

Predictions are that that number will be even higher in coming years Millennials are ease out of their initial “renting phase” and becoming home buyers.

Aside from curb appeal, Millennial homebuyers also have wildly different tastes than previous generations, and size plays a key factor.

They aren’t looking for the obnoxiously large houses that their predecessors fawned over in their attempt to keep up with the Joneses. They aren’t interested in those barren wastelands of “naked” suburban mansions of bathroom-sized bedrooms and multiple entertainment spaces.

Instead, they want minimalistic, energy efficient minimal homes with clean lines and--please--not those ornate trims and columns. They still want open floor plans and updated kitchens, but it’s got to be clean, modern lines and none of that look that says, “I just came into money and don’t know what to do with it”.

A house that to attract a Millennial will have to be more tech-savvy, and appeal can waiver significantly based on the strength of a mobile carrier’s signal or its internet service provider options.

And when it comes to energy efficiency, extra appeal comes with solar panels, rainwater recycling systems, high-end energy efficient appliances and sustainable building materials.

However, as homebuilders are not following those requirements yet, and buyers are forced to settle for less.

Another factor is the increasing trend for younger Americans to work remotely, making the home office a key attraction.

According to the latest statistics, more than 13 million Americans work from home.

Younger buyers also tend to emphasize the property’s location--and again, that’s not the suburban wasteland or the country. Proximity to work or public transportation, as well as walkability, are all important considerations. Millennials currently prefer to be in a location that has easy access to major metropolitan areas; however, that could change as they get older.

A recent study by home improvement site, indicates that 32 percent of homeowners have been putting off at least one home improvement project for 12 months or more. And landscaping is in the top five on that list. That won’t cut it for the house-shopping Millennials: This generation spends about $26,000 annually on home upgrades every year. That’s 7 percent more than they did the previous year.

Much of that goes to DIY projects, mostly influenced by so-called “HGTV affect” and realized thanks to the various instructional internet sites. There’s nothing that someone with ambition can’t learn to do on their own these days, thanks to the likes of YouTube. As a result of such a trend, retailers in the United States have seen a massive increase in building supply purchases among the younger generations.

And one thing not on the Millennial wishlist at all … the formal dining room.

Across the board, all real estate experts note that the majority of Millennial homebuyers either dislike or are willing to entirely forego the formal dining room. Millennials aren’t formal, and they like to hang out in the kitchen to eat, or … on the couch, watching HGTV.

By Michael Scott for

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.


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