It's now a fact: Millennials -- those born between 1981 and 1997, according to the most popular definition -- are now the largest demographic of the American public. They may be less homogeneous than one would expect, but they are united enough that they exert tremendous influence over a wide spectrum of modern life and activity.
Including home design and buying trends.
So much so, in fact, that the 77-million-plus age group spawned a "laboratory" that attempted to define and quantify the most important demands of the Millennial homebuyer. It's a case of "what the Millennial buyer wants, the Millennial buyer will get."
The Responsive Home Project
A collaboration between Builder Magazine and TRI Pointe Group's Pardee Homes, the discovery lab sought to identify the sometimes fun and quirky, often innovative, features that appeal to these 30-somethings who are poised to become not only the largest age group in the land, but also the largest group of homebuyers over the next decade or two.
Move over, Baby Boomers!
Two models, one a contemporary design and one reminiscent of a farmhouse, were constructed for the 2016 Builders Show in Las Vegas and, although they are strikingly different from one another, they illustrate several similarities, and confirm that there are four overriding preferences that can be attributed to the Millennial consciousness. Interestingly, they are universal enough in scope to appeal to other age groups as well.
Key Differentiators of the Millennial Home
Four prime concepts were identified then, and they are still important today, with some additional influencing factors:
- Walkability is important; a pleasant, urbanized neighborhood is ideal. But, and this is a key finding, a spacious, customizable floor plan is a primary desire. In short, Millennials want to trade their small urban condos for larger homes in the suburbs without sacrificing the convenience and accessibility of shopping and entertainment that the urban environment offers.
- Outdoor living space, quality construction and low maintenance are key desires. Millennials have no intention of being tied to home chores, including routine upkeep and yard work. They are determined to enjoy life, and are willing to pay for the privilege.
- Open to changing options, diverse family needs, evolving work schedules and multi-generational living arrangements, Millennials want homes with flexible floor plans, bonus rooms, and wings that can serve as either offices or separate living spaces. Optional outdoor access is an enticing feature. Guest houses and garage apartments can have great appeal.
- Emotional readiness may be a unique Millennial buying factor. But when this age group is ready to buy, they are ready now. Builders who offer adaptable and customizable floor plans have a great advantage with this market.
It may be safe to say that these features are not specific to a single age group. Architects, designers and builders who incorporate aspects of universal design into their homes will appeal not only to these savvy younger buyers, but also to families planning for empty-nest and retirement living, and to those who might anticipate the return of post-college children or aging parents.
Population shifts and economic necessity are also valid indicators of change, and the dynamic intrusion of smart technology cannot be ignored on the home front. In addition, green features are extremely important to most modern home buyers, and builders who respond to new advances in sustainability, safety and energy efficiency enjoy high customer acceptance.
At Aterra, we also recognize the needs and wants of Millennials, and we respond to their insistence on personalization and customization. But, that is how we routinely approach lighting and electrical design projects for customers of any age group. When you're ready for a home that truly addresses individual dreams and caters to distinctive buyer desires, why not make sure Aterra is a member of the team?