What Are Millennials Looking For?

The answer? New construction homes.

Kitchen with large island and yellow walls

Stainless steel appliances? Check! Hardwood flooring? Check! An open floor plan? Check! This kitchen in the Meritage plan by Miller and Smith in Clarksburg, Md., is ideal for any home-shopping Millennial. A recent survey found that Millennials want homes that require little maintenance, are energy efficient and that have open floor plans.

A nationwide Consumer Reports survey of 1,500 Millennials reveals what we already suspected: Millennials prefer move-in ready homes. No repairs. No remodels. No rethinking.

“Millennials want move-in ready. They want to cook in that kitchen from day one and entertain in that backyard that very weekend,” said Consumer Reports expert Dan DiClerico in an interview with CTV News.

The list of priorities for homebuying Millennials responding to the survey includes words like “new,” “spacious” and “low-maintenance” — all of which add up to new construction.

Priority #1: A modern kitchen, with stainless steel appliances, new flooring and a new countertop.

Buyers will look for these qualities in a pre-owned home, but the call of the new home is unmistakable. A perfect kitchen designed for entertaining is more appealing than any other. If there’s one room in the house where Millennials want bells and whistles, it’s the kitchen.

In a survey seeking to uncover how Millennials cook, advertising agency mcgarrybowen and Kraft Foods found that 25- to 34-year-olds are cooking more and they’re cooking for pleasure.

In addition, Millennials use technology as second nature. They don’t want to import technology into the kitchen. The kitchen should be designed for seamless technology use.

Priority #2: An open floor plan with flexible living space.

When the main living space is open, it suits the needs of Millennials, who are inclined to host parties that bleed into the kitchen, living room and dining room.

Picture the host experimenting with a new recipe displayed on their smartphone that’s propped up on the counter. (The mcgarrybowen survey revealed that the most common kitchen dilemma expressed by Millennials is “Where do I put my phone when I’m cooking, so it won’t get spilled on?”) Two or three friends are gathered around, drinking wine and commenting on the meal in progress.

Another group of friends is clustered in the living room, debating over the playlist as Bluetooth speakers play music that carries throughout the space, with no walls to block the sound between rooms.

Millennials, who are more likely to have flexible jobs that can include work-from-home options, may choose to use the dining area as an impromptu home office. Setting up their laptops on the table, they’re a stone’s throw from food and drinks in the kitchen. They might move to the living room sofa to get comfortable and make work calls. Walls become an annoying barrier to freely moving between spaces.

Of one thing you can be sure: Millennials see every room as being multi-purpose. Clearly defined rooms are out.

Priority #3: Durable, sustainable hard floors, not wall-to-wall carpeting.

There’s no way around it: carpets get stained. Stains have to be cleaned. Cleaning is extra work. Millennials prefer to skip that altogether and install hard flooring. But installation is extra work too, so homes that already come with sustainably harvested hardwood or tile stand out.

New home builders have observed that trend and, unlike the days when most new homes were finished with wall-to-wall carpeting, wood and tile are becoming the norm, making new homes that much more enticing for Millennial buyers. Even bedrooms, where carpet once presided, are now incorporating wood floors.

“When it comes to flooring, we see a trend to use hard surfaces, even in bedrooms where wall to wall carpeting used to be the norm,” says Ted Maines of Ted Maines Interiors in Winter Park, Fla. “Wood flooring has always been a popular option, but the demand is also very high for porcelain tile, especially now that large format tile is readily available. In big spaces, we have been working with 24-inch-by-48-inch size tiles, providing a custom look with less grout lines.”

But what about the coziness of a carpet? Can a bedroom really feel comfortable without it? “Area rugs — in all shapes and sizes — add warmth, color and texture to a room with wood or tile flooring,” continues Maines.

And if a throw run gets stained, replacing it is as easy as a one-click Amazon order.

Priority #4: Energy efficiency.

Millennials have been raised in a culture that prioritizes green living. Since they were born in the ’80s and ’90s, they’ve received the message that greener is better and environmental responsibility is becoming the norm.

Recycling, driving hybrid cars and wearing ethical fashion are a way of life and this extends to the home. The Millennial asks, “Since green options are widely available, why would I choose anything else?”

Adding green features to a new home won’t add up for Millennials, because replacing new features with new green features is an unwanted expense. Agents should be aware that Millennial homebuyers will expect the following in a new home:

  • LEDs and CFLs don’t just offer energy and cost savings, they produce less heat, use less energy and last significantly longer than traditional light bulbs. A new home should come with these already installed. A Millennial homebuyer will see replacing existing standard bulbs as a waste.
  • Low-flow faucets, showerheads and toilets are a must, especially toilets, which use 26% of the water in a home. ENERGY STAR appliances, windows and HVAC systems are the successful result of a government program to reduce greenhouse emissions, and it’s so well-known now that buyers look for the label. The new homes you’re selling should be ENERGY STAR outfitted or even Energy Star certified.

The bottom line is that Millennials have their own definition of what move-in ready means. For them, it means a home is ready for them to live the way they want to, not the way other generations keep house. Knowing this will help you show the right new homes to buyers who are already primed for the new-home market.

About the author 

Sarah Kinbar

Sarah Kinbar is a writer and editor with a passion for design and images. She was the editor of Garden Design magazine, curating coverage of residential gardens around the globe. As the editor of American Photo, Kinbar worked with photographers of every genre to create a magazine that told the story of the photographer's journey.

She has been writing about architecture, landscape design and new-home construction for NewHomeSource since 2012. During that time, she founded Kinship Design Marketing, a boutique agency that provides content for website redesigns, blogs, inbound marketing campaigns and eNewsletters.

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