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Millennial Home Buyers

On April 28th, I attended an informative event sponsored by IFDA and held at the lovely showroom of Country Floors on E. 16th Street.

The guest speaker was Jill Waage, Editor of Editorial Content for Better Homes and Gardens Magazine. The subject was a recap of the keynote speech given at the recent National Association of Home Builders ( National Buyer’s show held in Las Vegas: “Four Things to Understand About Millennial Home Buyers,” for those of us between the ages of 18-34. Here are some of the key points we should all keep in mind:

1. Millennials value home ownership but are challenged to qualify for it

In this hot, hot home market (especially New York), the younger end of the age scale has difficulty qualifying for a mortgage. This current groupof young buyers view owning a home as more important than the prior group of Gen-Xers, and will BORROW the money needed to make that first purchase a reality. However, in the next 15 years, Millennials will outnumber even the huge Baby Boomer market and we need to pay attention to them.

2. Their next home is more likely to be a fixer upper than new construction

With much of the new building market concentrating on the larger, higher end, the younger generation is more likely to buy in the smaller, need-to-remodel category. Millennials are also more likely to re-purpose spaces to suit their unique needs:

  • A formal dining room becomes the home office or crafts room. The new crop of “work from home” entrepreneurs makes a home office a necessity in their living space.

  • A garage space becomes an extra bedroom, rather than a spot to park the car.

  • Home entertaining is more prevalent in the younger generations, making outdoor living spaces in high demand.

3. They personalize their home as an expression of their distinctive style

Hearkening back to the Arts and Crafts movement of the earlier era, Millennials are making their homes statements of their personal taste. Also remembering that beauty begins with curb appeal, the outside of the home is just as important as the inside.

Door colors, mailboxes, exterior numbers matter to these owners every bit as much as the inside. Conversely, since these homes may not be “forever” residences, young buyers are not big on built-ins and expensive appliances. They value décor, like a backsplash in the kitchen, more than high-end appliances and furniture.

However, kitchens, baths and even laundry rooms need to be visually appealing. The children of Millennials will more likely be more sophisticated than their parents, so a taupe bedroom wall is better than Winnie the Pooh graphics.

4. They use social media platforms to gather (and share) inspiration and information

Along with this desire for personalization, is a client that is much more tech savvy than before. They are adept at shopping online, using Pinterest to share opinions and inspiration. Sites like allow the end consumer to select and order a “new bathroom in a box,” with everything delivered together, complete with everything needed for completion.

This group is four times more likely to know how to shop and navigate online than any of the generations before them.

5. Young buyers and the “Reciprocity Principle”

They like to do business with entities that offer excellent customer service even though they are savvy price shoppers, as a rule. Sustainability in design and product are no longer considered an option; it is considered as an expected norm and they don’t want to pay more for it.

Millennials are the buying force that will shape the next generation of home construction and interior design. Most importantly, they will reshape what is considered important in a home, and if professionals wish to attract their business, it’s time to start learning “what the kids are listening to these days.”

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