Millennial Home Buying Trends: Ignore Them at Your Home’s Own Marketing Peril

The first rule of any type of marketing is know your audience. Take Vespa’s reemergence in the year 2000. Company managers figured their iconic Italian motor scooters would resonate with 20-somethings the most.

Hardly! Vespa quickly learned it was nostalgic Baby Boomers who would be their best customers, and swiftly adjusted their advertising plan from there.

You’re selling a home, not a scooter, but the logic is the same. As you and your agent put together the marketing strategy for your house, you need to start with an understanding of who’s out there buying houses right now.

Data from the National Association of Research tells us that currently, millennials make up a whopping 36% of the home buyer pool.

That means there’s more than a one and three chance that the person who buys your home has a birthday sometime between 1981 and 1996—which puts them between the ages of 22 to 37.

Our conversations with top agents and research of the latest millennial home buying trends reveal there’s a lot you can do to appeal to the generation shaped by Nintendo 64, texting, Facebook’s early days, steep debt, and 2008’s broken economy.

A millennial researching home trends on a computer.
Source: (Andrew Neel/ Unsplash)

Millennials grew up with technology, so it comes naturally to them

While there’s plenty to learn about the characteristics of the millennial generation, there are two that matter when you want to target market your home to millennials. The millennial generation’s relationship to money and technology plays a big role in who they are as home buyers.

Millennials grew up in the digital age, specifically during the dawn of gaming, and later the internet and social media, which gave them a thirst for instant information at their fingertips and virtual communication.

They view the internet as an authority (even over their teachers and parents), and are early adopters of digital technology. Smart phones, tablets, smart watches, laptops—millennials have them all and they use them with a savviness that’ll make your head spin. They’re also sure to have profiles on a multitude of social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Just ask top agent Mary Jo Santistevan, who’s sold over 81% more properties in Phoenix than the average agent and ranks as the #1 Agent/Team for all of Berkshire Hathaway Home Service agents in Arizona, “Millennials are very savvy home buyers because they’re so connected with technology and plugged in with their online research.”

A graph showing technology adoption trends with different generations.
Source: (pewresearch.org)

Millennials don’t like to overextend themselves financially

As little as five years ago, millennials were referred to as the lazy, narcissistic, entitled Me Generation—a label that may suggest millennials are also reckless and irresponsible with their money.

In reality, millennials are frugal, thanks in part to coming of age during the Great Recession.

“I’ve noticed that millennials don’t max themselves out,” says Santistevan.

“When I was their age, if I knew I qualified for a home for $300,000, I was going to get one for $300,000. Millennials don’t do that. They’re really aware and budget-minded.”

Through their conservative spending and investing habits, millennials have earned a reputation for being cautious with their finances. These famous savers are also known to be actively planning for retirement.

While millennials have a reputation for saving the money they do have, they’re not so interested in making the big bucks when it comes to their careers.

According to the Brookings Institute, “64% of millennials would rather make $40,000/year at a job they love than $100,000/year at a job they think is boring.”

So it’s no shocker that millennials aren’t big fans of carrying debt—although many do, thanks to sky high student loans and credit cards. Luckily, many have developed a strategy to get rid of their debt with smart financial strategies and budget living.

An infographic showing trends of millennials paying bills on time.
Source: (blog.bankofthewest.com)

To minimize the impact of a mortgage on their monthly finances, some are saving up a sizable down payment, which may mean delaying home buying for several years.

Do millennials value homeownership? All signs point to ‘Yes’

Knowing that millennials are overburdened with sizable student loans (that have given them an aversion to debt), it seems remarkable that so many are willing to take on a substantial home mortgage, too.

Generational home buying trends infographic.
Source: (nar.realtor)

However, millennials view buying a home as an investment in their future. And more than that, many millennials see homeownership as the fulfillment of the American dream.

An infographic showing millennial trends in the American Dream.
Source: (blog.bankofthewest.com)

Of course, the millennial dream home is hardly a mansion. Millennials’ frugality with money has led them to become minimalists in their lifestyle. Since they’re surviving and thriving with less stuff, most are looking for less house.

A red home that millennials are buying.
Source: (Plam Petrov/ Shutterstock)

What types of homes are millennials on the hunt for?

What were starter homes for older generations are dream homes for some millennials—and those looking for even less square footage are snapping up tiny homes.

Not all millennials are going small, though. Older millennials are skipping the smaller, starter homes and buying larger ones—especially if they’re already married with kids. In fact, almost 33% of older millennials bought spacious, four-bedroom homes.

Despite the variety in millennials’ home size preferences, one thing almost all of them want is a house that’s move-in ready. As a whole, millennials are more interested in socializing with friends and traveling the world than remodeling fixer-uppers.

A home’s surrounding neighborhood, and its proximity to good schools and jobs, ranks high with millennials, too.

An infographic showing what Millennials are looking for in a place to live.
Source: (blog.bankofthewest.com)
An infographic showing what Millennials would currently move to a new place for.
Source: (blog.bankofthewest.com)

Now that you understand millennials and what they’re looking for in a home, here’s what you can do to spark their interest in your listing.

A Millennial woman on a bed in her new home.
Source: (Enrico Carcasci/ Unsplash)

How to effectively market your home to the millennial generation

All of this data and information on the millennial generation’s lifestyle, preferences, and economic outlook is essential to planning a sales strategy aimed at attracting this target market.

1. Go digital to reach millennial homebuyers where they are

An online listing description is now considered table stakes for any home, but it’s worth mentioning here as a major highlight for the millennial generation.

Take advantage of the fact that 99% of millennial home buyers search online for houses by making sure your home is highly visible on the top real estate websites.

Once a property hits the MLS, it should get syndicated to sites including Zillow, Realtor, Trulia and Redfin.

Similar to Google, real estate websites act as a search engine that help buyers quickly find the home of their dreams. Millennials will be doing all sorts of targeted searches for home on the web, so make sure that your listing is optimized for search using sought-after keywords.

An infographic showing millennial home buying trends.
Source: (nar.realtor)

2. Try to sell millennials on your home with web marketing alone

High quality, professional photos are a must to sell your home to millennials who are accustomed to shopping online with photos of everything shown from multiple angles.

Little extras like drone photos of your whole lot and virtual home tour videos definitely appeal to these tech-lovers.

3. Keep your staging and decor simple

When you’re staging your home for those photos, remember that millennials are minimalists, so less is more in your decor. Go above and beyond when you declutter, then add a few millennial-minded decorative accents, like creating a tabletop vignette with a sleek, modern vase, an empty vintage picture frame, and some industrial-style candle holders.

4. Put millennials’ top features in writing

Once you’ve captured their attention with your visuals, cement this generation’s interest in your home by highlighting its most millennial-friendly features in the description:

  • Features that make your home more efficient or “green”
    Since the cost of living is a priority for millennials, emphasize any money-saving assets your house has, like double-paned windows or sustainable energy upgrades. Speaking of sustainable, millennials are very eco-conscious so be sure to highlight any green home improvements.
  • Open layout kitchens
    For easy entertaining and a modern, open flow between rooms.
  • Outdoor living spaces
    Got a patio, deck, or porch? Millennials will love the opportunity to enjoy a slice of nature or share the space with guests outside.
  • Custom upgrades, such as smart appliances or add-ons
    Millennials appreciate personalization, so if you can offer that to them with a smart thermostat they can program to their day, or a smart kitchen system that learns your family’s meal preferences, they’ll be all in.
  • Neighborhood highlights
    Play up your proximity to walking trails, local attractions, or employers in career fields appeal to millennials, such as hospitality and healthcare.
A millennial couple in a home they just bought.
Source: (Toa Heftiba/ Unsplash)

Tap into these millennial home buying trends to target your home’s marketing

If you’ve hired an experienced agent with a track record of selling homes for more money within a short time span—chances are that agent already has a tried and true strategy for marketing your home. That doesn’t mean it can’t be tweaked for the better.

If you’re looking for an edge to help your home stand out from the crowd, it pays to tailor that marketing strategy to attract the largest pool of buyers—and right now, that’s millennials.

Find a top agent in your area