February 12, 2016

The Generation Gap: What Millennials & Baby Boomers Look For in a Home

Courtesy of JBG companies

There’s no place like home, but what is it that makes home so sweet to begin with? For millennials and the baby boomers, the answer isn’t always the same. We take a closer look at the housing wish lists for both residents enjoying their golden years, and young professionals.

Cost: One of the key differentiators separating the millennials from the baby boomers is the importance of price. Millennials are often first-time homeowners or renters in the earlier stages of their career, so bottom line price is a huge consideration factor. The 55+ crowd, however, is more prepared to pay higher rates for convenience and comfort.

Extra space: In a 2014 survey conducted by John Burns Real Estate Consulting, 51% of boomers expressed being close to grandchildren as a key factor in choosing a home, with another 41% being willing to accommodate an 18+ child. With all these houseguests, multiple bedrooms is more of a priority for the boomer generation, whereas millennials, particularly in cities, are willing to live in studios and one-bedrooms.

Amenities: Ease and accommodation is the name of the game for baby boomers, which is part of the reason why active 55+ communities are growing in popularity. Lush landscaping is a priority for this demographic, and the convenience of having a groundskeeper maintain it is even better. Snow removal, nearby recreation centers, and the security of a gated community are other draws for this more mature generation. While amenities like updated appliances and pet-friendly residences still rank high with millennials, they are ultimately less focused on the bonus electives and are more likely to engage in chores like shoveling the driveway – some will even trek it to the laundry mat.

Despite the generational housing gaps above, there are some universal features that buyers and renters of every age are looking for:

Location, location, location…reigns supreme all the time. Empty nesters and independent seniors are pursuing active social lives focused around recreation and leisure interests such as dining and travel. Connectivity is a shared desire for millennials who also want to be near their favorite restaurant or neighborhood kickball league. Additionally, millennials are considering work commutes and neighborhood school systems as location factors when house hunting, with nearby family and grandchildren being a driving factor for the boomers.

Going Green: Building residential properties that are environmentally friendly is a growing trend that is in demand by both generations. Millennials are driving the conversation about consumer responsibility and sustainable home living, and building codes and regulations have changed to push builders to be more eco-conscious when developing residential properties. However, as cost is still a factor for the millennial generation and first time homeowners, it’s the more experienced golden year demographic that are willing to buckle down and pay the extra dollar for a green home. Dodge Data & Analytics for the National Association of Homeowners expect that nearly two-thirds of all new homes built by 2020 will be green, with one-third of remodelers anticipating a green remodel.

Open Floor Plans: As baby boomers downsize, they’re embracing less defined living spaces, particularly when it comes to a more informal dining room. Open floor plans are a more contemporary design touch that millennials are used to seeing, and often prefer.

New development projects that can meet the needs of both the baby boomer and millennial generations will be a home run on the housing market.