For most Americans, homeownership remains an integral part of an otherwise shifting interpretation of the American Dream. Nearly 90 percent of Millennials – a group known for their tendency to rent in the city the longest – plan to purchase their own place at some point. The key difference between Millennials and prior generations is that young people view homeownership as a personal lifestyle choice rather than a definite milestone. As such, young home buyers are somewhat particular when it comes to their dream home must-haves.
Per a survey conducted by Trulia and Harris Poll, 72 percent of renters ages 18 to 34 plan to buy a home as early as 2018 – which is now just a few short months away. In preparation of this new wave of home buyers, consider where young people want to live and the home features they desire most.
Tiny Homes: Still a Niche Market
While a sustainable and efficient household lifestyle is gaining in popularity, most buyers don’t see a tiny house as the ideal option. Forty-four percent of all buyers (regardless of age) prefer a home between 1,401 and 2,600 square feet – a size that holds two to four bedrooms, depending on property type. One-third of Millennials aren’t sure of how big they want their dream home to be, but 20 percent say 2,001 and 2,600 square feet is ideal. That’s much larger than the typical tiny home, which ranges between 400 and 1,000 square feet, on average.
Modern Beats Traditional
Baby Boomers traditionally favor single-story homes, but both Gen X and Millennial home buyers prefer a more modern aesthetic and layout. Anecdotal evidence also suggests that young people wish for move-in ready interiors instead of do-it-yourself (DIY) updates and large remodeling projects. Hardwood floors, granite countertops, stainless steel appliances and layout efficiency regularly make a lasting impression on young house hunters. Aside from modern architecture styles, Millennials also like Victorian or Craftsman homes. And, despite their city-driven lifestyles, just 6 percent of Millennials see themselves purchasing a high-rise penthouse apartment.
Headed to the Suburbs
Most Americans would rather live in the countryside (27 percent) or suburbs (27 percent) over a major metropolitan city (8 percent). For Millennials, though, exact location isn’t as important. Young people prioritize a shorter work commute and top-notch school districts first, putting less emphasis on any specific address. However, when it comes to traffic, living near the urban core often minimizes work travel time.
Kitchens and Open Concept
Millennials’ biggest dream home feature is having a balcony with a view (60 percent) and terraces are far more prevalent in multi-family buildings near the urban core. For example, D.C. millennials looking to buy might consider Foggy Bottom, a more reasonably-priced community just a stone’s throw from downtown. But, Foggy Bottom D.C. condos with a view come at a cost. The median list price for all homes in Foggy Bottom is now $551,000 – a substantial uptick since last year. This price doesn’t reflect the possible premium for panoramic outdoor space, either. Other must-haves among Millennials include a backyard deck (59 percent), gourmet kitchen (53 percent), swimming pool (52 percent) and open floor plan (45 percent). Across generations, home buyers crave gourmet kitchens and open concepts most often.
While house hunting preferences differ across generations, Millennials’ must-have lists aren’t always practical. Using a home affordability calculator helps young buyers understand what they can afford, despite their predispositions, and keeps expectations in line with the budget. From there, mortgage preapproval and an open mind go a long way in creating a smoother and more successful first-time home buying experience.