In 2016, a report by the National Association of Realtors declared the Millennial generation as the largest cohort of home buyers in the U.S. The report estimated that this generation—which encompasses those born between the early 1980s and the late 1990s—constituted 35 percent of buyers, compared to 26 percent for their Generation X predecessors.
A growing presence
Due to their strength in numbers, Millennials are already transforming the real estate market and the way that properties are bought and sold. Agents and sellers that do not tune into this generation’s characteristics and preferences may lose exposure to numerous potential buyers. As a seller, here are six strategies for capturing the interest of the current market’s youngest and most prominent generation of home buyers:
- Ensure that your home is listed on real estate apps. When most of today’s buyers—particularly Millennials—are searching for a home, they reach for apps on their smartphones before any other source. Zillow, Realtor.com and Homesnap are amoung the market leaders. Making sure that your property is displayed on all of the major real estate apps will help to maximize visibility.
- Consider staging a room as a home office if you do not already have one. In the business world, Millennials are notorious for demanding non-traditional work arrangements, including the option to work from home. Therefore, younger buyers will likely place a high value on home offices. If you have a flexible living space or spare bedroom, furnishing it with a desk and chair will convey the idea that the room is ripe for a functional home work area.
- Highlight open floor plans—or create the appearance of having one. Most Millennials love to entertain and value floor plans that allow their guests to move freely through the kitchen, living room, and outdoor living spaces. On the contrary, these buyers tend to place a lower priority on formal rooms, such as dining rooms. Whether or not your home has an open floor plan, steps such as minimizing clutter, keeping countertops clear, leaving doors between rooms open, and letting in plenty of natural light will help to create the desired effect. These steps are especially important in our neighborhoods where the homes were built long before open floor plans became a trend.
- Emphasize neighborhood walkability or other attributes that this age group may find desirable. Millennial home buyers tend to reject urban sprawl, preferring walkable communities or neighborhoods with convenient access to public transportation. The DC Department of Tranportation’s new Mobility App may help assuage their commuting fears. At the same time, many are starting families or plan to do so in the future, so they are drawn to suburban areas with good school districts and a family-oriented vibe. Shepherd Park and Takoma won’t rank high for walkability (at least until the Walter Reed development comes online), but they will definitely score for good schools and family vibe. Make sure you and your agent highlight these attributes for Millennial buyers.
- Implement sustainable features. Millennials have grown up in an era characterized by concerns about climate change and depletion of natural resources, so they are drawn to energy-efficient and other sustainable features in a home. If your budget permits it, consider easy upgrades like swapping older incandescent light bulbs for LEDs or installing low water-use fixtures.
- Ensure that your agent is using Millennial-preferred methods of communication when contacting prospective buyers from this demographic. Unlike the generations before them, many Millennials are averse to talking on the phone. Instead, they tend to prefer texting or emailing. However, agents should not eschew face-to-face contact entirely. Considering that most Millennials are first-time homebuyers, they will likely find occasional in-person meetings reassuring.