How the emerging affluent buyer is choosing where to live
It seems like just yesterday that the millennials were considered tomorrow’s emerging affluents. Now, many are in their mid-to-late thirties and constitute an ever-increasing share of the luxury real estate market. Some millennials may be looking to enter the market for the first time, while others are established homeowners and perhaps already looking for second or third properties.
But regardless of their age or real estate experience, many members of this generation desire similar things in their dream homes. Here, three top real estate agents give a glimpse into the five features millennials look for first.
1. Streamlined, convenient living
Convenience comes in many forms, but it’s always a leading consideration for millennials. “They are looking for ease of maintenance and prefer full-service condominiums versus townhomes, with a gym and swimming pool in the building and rooftops for entertaining,” says Mae Bagai, Global Real Estate Advisor and Associate Broker with Sotheby’s International Realty in New York. “If they can afford it, they will solely focus on new constructions which include smart home integration for their appliances and devices.”
Elliot Machado, Broker Associate with ONE Sotheby’s International Realty, sees similar demands in the Miami market, with amenities such as rooftop pools, dedicated entertainment spaces, and gyms driving buyers to certain buildings. “The attention to detail and quality of the build are really starting to be focused on,” he says. “This is a big plus for the millennial buyer and just the overall market.”
In Denver, where detached homes are still popular among millennials, Kylie Russell, Broker Associate with LIV Sotheby’s International Realty likewise sees a strong demand for intelligent, connected technology. “Another feature that I see buyers seeking — if square footage allows — is a home office space,” she says. And if their condos won’t allow space for an office, her clients opt to live close to work.
2. Urban settings
That leads to another top priority for millennials: location. “It’s a lifestyle identity for millennials,” says Machado. “Some of my buyers’ decisions can change if they’re even a couple of blocks away from the action.”
Bagai has buyers who will limit their search to specific blocks to be near their offices. “In Manhattan in particular, we are seeing millennials wanting to live downtown — particularly Chelsea and Flatiron, as there is an influx of tech companies in those neighborhoods,” she says. “Both locations are centrally located and walking distance to the best restaurants, lounges, shopping, parks, fitness facilities, and major transportation.”
While millennial buyers in markets like Miami and New York opt for condos in the city center over larger homes out in the suburbs, the trend of downtown living extends to more outdoorsy markets like Denver.
“I see a lot of my millennial clients choosing to buy closer-in, prioritizing location over square footage, but also seeking nearby parks, trails, and easy access to public transportation,” says Russell. “Being able to walk to at least a few restaurants and bars is a top priority to my younger clients; and bonus points for walkability to coffee shops and yoga studios where they feel like they belong to a community.”
3. Built for socializing
This desire for a sense of community is another critical consideration for millennials, who seek places that let them nurture their pastimes. “Whatever their passions are, they want their home to complement and enhance it,” says Russell.
Because this demographic is so socially inclined, open-concept spaces are still very much in vogue. Bagai cites open kitchen layouts as one of the main things her millennial clients look for, as does Machado. And he has a theory as to why that is. “Being able to cook in an open gourmet kitchen that flows seamlessly into the living spaces means millennials never have FOMO, or ‘fear of missing out,’” he says.
Young affluent buyers also tend to spend more money on creating memories, as opposed to amassing possessions, and Russell sometimes notices this in the properties they choose. “I see my millennial buyers being a bit conservative on their budget and seeking to buy below their means in order to save money for travel, experiences, and long-term plans.”
4. Room to grow
Many millennials are thinking long-term and big-picture, for themselves and for future generations. “My millennial buyers, like most buyers, want a place they are proud to call home — a place that has longevity and gives them the flexibility to grow as they get their first pet, have roommates, couple up, and maybe even start a family,” says Russell. “They are ambitious and up for DIY projects that help differentiate their home. They grew up with HGTV and are not intimidated to do work.”
This eagerness to renovate doesn’t apply in all markets, as Bagai notes that many of her clients have multiple residences around the world and are looking for turnkey smart homes that require as little work as possible. However, there’s a consensus that millennials are more aware of environmental problems than their predecessors, and place more emphasis on sustainability.
“LEED-certified, energy-efficient buildings and homes are important to my clients,” says Bagai. It seems that when millennials think long-term, they’re not only thinking of their own personal wellbeing, but the planet’s as well.
5. Outdoor access
Knowing that preserving the planet is of high value to millennials, it’s not surprising that this generation prizes greater access to green spaces. Russell mentioned that her clients often want homes near trails and parks — but it goes further than that. “More than ever, my clients are into gardening,” she says. “We see a lot more composting and an increasing number of buyers that want chickens.” And in Denver, clients are often able to choose between detached housing with a yard or a condo or townhome with amazing rooftop mountain views.
Downtown-dwellers in Miami and New York may have to settle for houseplants — and their affinity for them is well-documented. But they also want to feel the fresh air. “A big expectation for my market is larger terraces that open up and seamlessly blend indoor and outdoor living,” says Machado.
To engage, anticipate
Millennials have high expectations of their agents, as well as their homes. For agents, this means leaning on the time-honored tradition of responsiveness. “They’re looking for efficiency and streamlining in their homebuying process,” says Bagai of her younger clients. “They want quick response times and someone who understands their lifestyle and needs.”
This generation prefers to communicate with agents by text, not email or phone, and Russell utilizes group chats to ensure all her clients are on the same page. She also relies on video chat apps like Marco Polo where videos can be rewatched multiple times — helpful for clients reviewing footage of a potential home. Machado, for his part, leverages automation. “For me, it’s all about personalization and creating real-time e-alerts so they get the right properties directly to their phones,” he says. “I always try to stay as innovative as possible to add value.”
No matter what your millennial buyers are looking for, providing exemplary service tailored to their preferences ensures that you’ll be with them when they find it.