As younger generations of Americans become homeowners, the definition of what's considered desirable in a house changes. Millennials (those born between 1981-1996) constituted 37 percent of homebuyers in 2019, the largest cohort in the country. Anyone buying or selling a home should pay close attention to the wants and needs of this generation and to Gen Z, which is also starting to reach the age of homeownership.
The demands in an ideal home aren’t the same for young homeowners today as what attracted buyers in previous decades. They have specific wants in a new home and will overlook places that don’t fit the bill. Catering to young homeowners may mean considering less than obvious home upgrades. For example, millennial concerns aren’t the usual granite countertops and aluminum finishes. They tend to have interest in function over form. Here are the home improvements young homebuyers find most attractive.
1. Smart technology
Think about all those pieces of tech that make using your home as simple as clicking an app. Control your thermostat, turn on lights, or talk to someone at your door while you’re away from home. Smart devices that integrate into the home are now a standard expectation of young homeowners. They want tech that makes their lives easier with minimal effort on their part. The ability to manage key elements within their home from their phone is highly appealing.
Also in this category is effective technology that doesn't break the bank. For example, young homeowners may want a security system, but they’re not as interested in paying a monthly subscription for it. They'll look for plenty of space to charge their devices, but prefer USB outlets over having to own a variety of charger components.
Don’t forget about the garage when adding outlets to your home. If you don’t already have at least one out there, installing an extra outlet is a good idea. Think about the possibility of the next owner having an electric car. The odds are good since a large percentage of people who bought an electric car so far in 2020 were between the ages of 25 and 54. It’s a huge time saver for these car owners if they don’t have to install a new power outlet in the garage when they buy the home.
2. Energy efficiency
Mostly focused on appliances, young homeowners are looking for ways to save money. They may look for LED bulbs in light fixtures, or how the controls work on your thermostat. But, the best way to impress them is with energy efficient appliances. Washer/dryer, refrigerator, dishwasher, microwave — anything with an Energy Star sticker sits well with younger generations. Any appliance that comes with the home should definitely have energy-saving options.
3. Speciality spaces
Rooms that serve a particular function are attention-catchers for young homeowners. While an open concept ranks big overall, there are a few types of rooms that can fit into this category. Of particular importance is a home office. Even if the space doesn’t have its own door, with more and more people finding remote jobs or ones where they can telework a few days a week, office space at home is becoming essential. Younger homeowners would rather not share their office space with another room. They don’t necessarily want to put a desk in a guest room or take over the dining room. Instead, an obvious workspace that’s not on top of any other part of the house, will stand out.
4. Outdoor living
Entertaining is a big priority for young homeowners. They want an outdoor space that feels like an extension of the inside of their house. Many are unmarried and don't have children, and socializing is a big part of their life. They want to feel like a party that begins indoors can easily flow into the yard. Low-maintenance features like a patio, fire pit, built-in grill, or even a complete outdoor kitchen enhances a home’s appeal. Well-manicured lawns and enough green space for a garden also help. Even stylish exterior lighting creates the right outside ambiance younger homeowners want.
5. Practical storage
This may not be specific to young homeowners. Most of us want plenty of storage space in a home. However, millennial buyers prefer that it’s built into the home. They’re looking for linen closets, a walk-in pantry, and plenty of garage storage. They're looking for places to put their gadgets, gear, and outdoor equipment. Built-in cabinets, shelves, and drawers make these dedicated storage spaces even better.
6. Luxury items
It’s not just the functional elements young homeowners want in their new home. A little bit of luxury can help entice them as well. These items, in particular, can win big:
- A wine fridge
- Recessed lighting
- Towel warmers
- Motion light sensors
- Vessel sinks
Anything non-essential that makes living a little easier or the home a little prettier can go a long way in a home’s attractiveness for those younger buyers.
Home types attracting young people
Because the age range is pretty wide, young homebuyers are often split on the location of their ideal home. For the older half of the generation, suburbia is calling. They want to settle down near good schools, in a neighborhood that really feels like a community. They’re looking for single-family homes that don’t have a cookie-cutter appearance. The ideal house size is around 2,500 square feet with an open concept they can customize to their liking. Design preferences lean toward a modern-traditional aesthetic with sleek, clean lines.
The younger portion of the generation still consider themselves urban dwellers, although they’d pick a pet-friendly condo over one with parking in a heartbeat.
The bells and whistles of the next generation
As more and more people grow into the age of home ownership, tastes change. The shag carpets and floral wallpapers of old are giving way to new trends. Today’s homeowners want modern, open, and minimalist. They want to save money and save the environment. They want a home where it’s easy to socialize, while also having dedicated spaces for everyday living. It’s a tall order, but homes are meant to evolve. Maybe it’s time for a few upgrades.