How to Sell Your Home to Millennials
Much has been made about the different generations of Buyers and how they approach purchasing a home. Baby Boomers have ceded space to Generation X, and now the Millennials are jockeying for their place in the real estate market.
Numbering around 80 million, Millennials now represent the fastest-growing generation of consumers in the U.S. Those born between 1980 and the mid to late ‘90s are location-unaffiliated and cash poor and many think of them as perennial renters.
According to the National Association of Realtors’ 2016 study of generational housing trends, Millennials (or Generation Y) comprise the largest segment of the buyer market (35%), ahead of Generation X (26%), which covers those born between 1965 and 1979.
Millennials, however, are more eager to get on the property ladder than you might think. In fact, they now account for one in three Buyers. That figure is set to explode as we edge into the next decade.
Different attitudes towards buying
Millennials have more different attitudes about home buying than any other generation. They work long hours, and they want to spend the free time they have with friends and family. They’re also more transient than their parents’ generation.
When it comes to real estate, many of them seek turn-key homes for quick and easy move-in. No matter how great the opportunity, many of today’s Buyers aren’t interested in painting or “making it their own” as their parents did when they moved into homes they planned on living in for 30 years or more.
Millennials are primarily looking for an economical property close to the center of town, with access to Wi-Fi, coffee shops, bike paths and walkable neighborhoods.
Making your strategy fit the Millennial’s criteria will help sell your home faster and probably at a higher price. Here are some tips to help you appeal to this highly educated, tech-savvy generation.
Previous generations purchased whatever their budget allowed and fixed their property up over time. Millennials, by contrast, want the finished product at closing. They shift jobs and locations far more frequently than their parents’ generation so there’s no time for rolled out home improvements.
If you’re looking to entice the Millennial audience, you have to deliver a move-in ready home that looks like it has tumbled off a magazine cover. Chic staging is critical if you’re to meet, or exceed, Millennial expectations.
New kitchen and bath fixtures are especially important for today’s young, budget-conscious Buyers as they will use much of their savings for a downpayment with little left over for updating.
The only problem with this is that everyone’s tastes are different so a Seller needs to be careful to pick out fixtures that will appeal to the widest audience.
Open Floor plans
Young buyers are tech savvy and most of them want a space where people can gather, mingle and socialize. They’re more attracted to open floor concepts than a layout that compartmentalizes the home.
Some of the renovations you might consider include knocking down walls to provide an open concept cooking/living/dining space and outdoor decks for entertaining.
Millennials grew up with technology and expect to use their smartphones and tablets everywhere. They’re unlikely to favor a home that can’t easily be equipped with Wi-Fi or has a poor signal.
If you’re having trouble getting a solid, reliable signal, invest in a booster, repeater or extender to improve Wi-Fi coverage.
A house’s appeal can be increased or diminished because of the strength of a mobile carrier’s signal or its internet service provider options. While cellphone and internet services are out of the Seller’s hands, Sellers or their agents should be prepared to field such questions.
Millennials rely on technology to stay informed, communicate and make purchasing decisions, and they expect to use those technologies when they view homes and make an offer. When choosing an agent, make sure they’re up to date with the latest mobile apps, virtual tours and e-signature technologies – and be prepared to move fast. Millennials work on Internet time, so make sure your agent can respond to their queries in no more than one day.
Millennials are a responsible generation with a collective social consciousness. Green lifestyle choices are key for them, and not embracing the move towards sustainability could be a deal breaker for some younger Buyers.
If your home falls short of the latest environmental standards, it may be worth boosting its green credentials with a cost-effective retrofit. Energy-efficient heating, cooling and insulation are a selling point, or you could include sustainable materials such as bamboo into your flooring or kitchen cabinets.
Millennials don’t just strive for work-life balance, they expect total work-life integration.
That means having a home, work and play right on the doorstep. This is good news if you’re selling a home in an urban, mixed-use environment where residents can access all the amenities without having to get in a car.
If your home isn’t near to a major urban center, discuss with your real estate agent how best to offset its low walking score.
More than 13 million Americans work from home, according to the most current U.S. Census data, and all signs point to that trend continuing. That makes a home office important for many Buyers – having a dedicated space is important as it keeps Millennials focused.
Most young Buyers look for homes that are low maintenance. They want smaller and simpler homes on smaller parcels. Low-upkeep features such as wood floors (as opposed to carpet) and granite countertops are seen as positives for this generation because they’re both attractive and relatively hassle-free.
Millennials grew up watching their parents spend weekends on chores around the house, and they want their weekends to themselves and don’t really want to be cleaning gutters or cutting the grass.
Millennials have seen at least a few of the home reality shows on channels such as TLC and HGTV. Those shows can be fun and informative, but they also do a lot to shape Buyer expectations.
Staging is a critical part of selling your home – if you’re unsure ask your agent for advice.
Understanding HOA fees
Young buyers tend to get caught in the HOA fee trap when gauging the affordability of condos or townhomes. The asking price often fits their limited budgets, but HOA dues and the possibility of large assessments can sink the purchase – a building that’s eligible for FHA financing, however, can work for some Millennials.
Check with your agent to see if your condo or townhouse is non-warrantable or warrantable.
If you’re serious about attracting Millennials, Sellers need to think about how their property shows online, more than likely the first time and place Millennials will see their home.
The home must have professional photography that shows the home in its best light, or they’ll move on before ever stepping foot in the door.
It’s hard to underestimate the importance of a quality online listing. According to the most recent analysis from the National Association of Realtors, 88% of Buyers use the internet to search for homes, including 94% of Millennials.
By comparison, real estate agents are the second-most common resource for finding a home, with 87% of all Buyers citing an agent’s help as a key factor.
The most telling piece of data may be what happens after Buyers see an online listing. According to the NAR, 64% of Buyers in 2014 said they walked through a home after viewing the listing online, and 76% said they at least drove by the home because of an online ad.
Location matters more than ever
Millennials want the urban experience, as best as they can get, in the suburbs. This means homes that are walking distance to a village or town, near the train, and in bustling neighborhoods.
If you’re a Boomer selling a long-time family home now or in the future, and the Millennial is your potential Buyer (think: customer), you need to adjust your mindset to meet theirs. You can’t assume that anything related to your original home search applies today.
Get ahead of it, or your home may spend many months (or even years) on the market.