Everything You Need to Know About Millennial Home Buyers (2021)

Posted by Ryan Fitzgerald on Friday, January 15th, 2021 at 7:59pm.

Everything You Need to Know About Millennial Home Buyers 2019

Millennial homebuyers are on the rise and for good reason - interest rates are low. With the rise of student loan debt, frequent career shifts, and living through the 2008 housing crisis, many may consider millennials to be financially insecure and averse to home ownership. However, research surprisingly points in the opposite direction. According to a 2018 Bank of America survey, the vast majority of millennials, more than 72%, consider homeownership to be their top priority. The only live event that ranked higher was retirement, at 80%. Getting married and having children fell lower on the list, at 50% and 44% respectively. To the millennial generation, owning a home is not only a wise investment option – it is a fundamental value intrinsic to the American Dream.

I’m a real estate agent. What should I know about working with millennial home buyers?

  • Millennials are waiting longer to buy. It is not uncommon for millennials to move back in with their parents after college to save money and pay off part of their student loan debt. Living with their parents is also a viable option because many millennials have not secured steady, full-time jobs immediately after graduating from college. A study conducted by the Arizona Pathways to Life Success indicated that nearly half of graduates ranging in age from 23 to 26 rely on their families for financial support in some capacity. Therefore, 29 years old is the median age of purchasing a home – which is significantly older than prior generations.

  • 79 percent of millennials are first-time home buyers. I’m sure this comes as no surprise, especially considering most millennials who are of age to buy a home are in their mid-to-late twenties. As a result, finding a knowledgeable, trustworthy agent is extremely important to a millennial buyer because they are new to the home buying process.

  • Millennials are looking for long-term homeownership. Millennials are often pegged as being ‘flaky’ and noncommittal due to their tendency to get married later in life and shift jobs more often than prior generations. However, contrary to popular belief, it is important to most millennial home buyers that they secure a home in a safe neighborhood with a good school district and a short commute to work.

  • They embrace the fixer-upper. Millennials are not looking for the picture-perfect home. In fact, they oftentimes prefer to spend less on a fixer-upper and invest money into recreating the space to match their vision. 67 percent of millennial home buyers would put an offer on a home in need of a full or partial renovation.

  • Mobile phone use reigns supreme. This is most-likely also unsurprising knowledge, but 63% of millennials said that they primarily conducted their property search on their phones. When working with millennials, ask them about their preferred communication method. It most likely will be a text message or email, but many millennials may prefer phone calls as well.

  • Millennials are researchers. This applies to everything in their life – whether it’s researching restaurants, the best moving companies, and more – millennials first step when beginning any project is always to conduct thorough research. It is imperative that your online brand as a real estate agent is strong, as the first step a millennial will take when hiring you is Googling your name. Ensure that your online reviews, web content, and social media pages are an accurate reflection of your personality as an agent. They will also want to research every home you plan on bringing them to. They are far more inclined to view a property that has photos, videos, and a 3-D digital tour giving them a feel for the layout over a listing that only has a few photos.

  • They want to work with a trustworthy agent. Although millennials enjoy conducting their own research prior to beginning a project, they still recognize the importance in hiring a knowledgeable and trustworthy agent. According to the 2018 Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends Report, 90 percent of buyers aged 37 years old and younger purchased their home through a real estate agent. This is primarily because they are first-time home buyers and are unaware of the various intricacies involved in a real estate transaction. Therefore, they will rely heavily on their real estate agent to explain the steps involved. Additionally, according to the 2018 Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends Report, 75 percent of millennials indicated that they need assistance from a real estate agent to better understand the purchasing process.

  • Marriage is on the decline. Marriage is becoming less popular among millennials, and those who do choose to get married are doing so later in life. In fact, according to a report released by the Pew Research Center, it is projected that 25 percent of millennials will never get married. As a result, 20 percent of millennial homebuyers are living with a partner when they purchase a home but are not married. These statistics greatly exceed any other generation, where home buyers have traditionally been married prior to purchasing a home.

  • Millennials know what they want. The majority of millennials take the leap from renting to buying, or they spend some time living with their parents at home to save money prior to purchasing a home. As a result of the time they spend renting or living at home, they have time to narrow down their options and know exactly what they are looking for in a home. Therefore, they typically take less time to decide on a property when compared to prior generations. On average, millennials take approximately eight weeks to make a decision on a new home.

  • Millennials seek a strong sense of community. This aspect of millennial culture oftentimes gets undermined by the false belief that millennials are addicted to their phones and have decreased interest in human engagement. However, millennials are very much the opposite. They seek a strong sense of community in their daily life – and this especially applies to their home buying choices. With the increase in individuals working from home each year, millennials are drawn to neighborhoods that have communal workspaces and lively cafes where they can work during the day. Companies such as WeWork, Techspace, Green Desk, Impact Hub, and more are revolutionizing office space culture by providing comfortable, productive environments for individuals who work remotely. If you are working with millennial buyers, finding homes that are in close proximity to co-working spaces such as these is a great selling point. Additional selling points that millennials are drawn to include living in areas with monthly social events, outdoor dining options, and rooftop bars/lounges.

Millennials are big on tech:

      • The rise of virtual staging. Virtual reality and 3-D digital walk-throughs are becoming increasingly popular among millennials. In fact, according to Curbed.com, one out of every three buyers put in offers on homes without even viewing them first – and more than 41 percent of those buyers are, unsurprisingly, millennials. With the rise of virtual reality, videography, and 3-D walk-throughs in the real estate market, purchasing homes without viewing them will continue to grow in popularity.

      • The minute mortgage. Millennials were raised in the fast-paced world of technology, where the answer to pretty much anything can be found by tapping a few buttons on their phone. They are avid researchers and are drawn to quick, easy-to-use programs that enable them to work through complicated tasks quickly and efficiently. This ease-of-access mindset comes into play with the mortgage process as well. Companies such as Quicken Loans’ Rocket Mortgage mobile service are revolutionizing the loan process and enabling borrowers to apply for a mortgage in minutes. Not only is the application process quick and efficient, but the loan also closes in less than a month, which is something that traditional lenders are unable to do. Other companies, such as financing firm Lenda, Social Finance, and Roosify are jumping on board as well. Lenda’s application only takes a few minutes to fill out and the loan can close in as little as two weeks.

      • Social media. According to a recent study conducted by market research group Nielsen, American adults spend more than eleven hours per day interacting with media in some form – whether it’s watching videos, reading articles and online content, listening to music or a podcast, or engaging with social media in some way. These statistics are on a rapid incline, as the average amount of time spent interacting with media in 2014 was a little over nine hours per day. Media is always at the forefront of millennials mindsets, and the use of social media is critical in the real estate process. If you are a real estate agent and are attempting to target the millennial market, Instagram Live and Facebook Live videos are key. Millennials are drawn to videography and are far more likely to watch a video of an agent giving a tour of a home vs. reading an article about a home or rifling through photos. Agents who offer video tours and do a question and answer segment at the end of the video will have more interaction and heightened interest in their properties. If going live on Facebook or Instagram is something you are not comfortable with, videos, in general, are extremely popular on social media – they don’t always have to be broadcast live. An additional Nielsen survey found that 72% of millennials view video content through social media apps at least once per day.

As a result of millennials active social media use, they will most likely be posting about their home buying search throughout the process. This may come in the form of videos, blogging, social media posts, and more – depending on their level of internet engagement. This is free advertising for you as an agent and can lead to future referrals from their friends and family who engage with them on social media. Therefore, it is imperative that you always hold yourself accountable and demonstrate the highest degree of professionalism in your texting conversations, phone calls, and in-person meetings. Doing so can lead to repeat business and future referrals.

Is student loan debt impeding millennials from buying homes?

According to Bankrate, although the vast majority of millennials are struggling to manage the pressure of student loan debt, 79 percent of Americans consider homeownership part of the "American Dream” and plan on owning a home at some point. Many also choose to live at home with their parents after college in the hope that they will save enough money to pay off part of their loans and afford a down payment.

What is the price range that most millennials are willing to spend on a home?

Because most millennials are battling the pressure of student loan debt, they are typically hoping to secure more affordable homes in the $100,000 to $200,000 range. This is understandable, as most millennials are newer to the workforce and are still working on securing careers. However, 27% are comfortable paying between $200,000 and $299,999, and 15% of millennial home buyers are comfortable buying between $300,000 and $399,999.

What kinds of homes appeal most to the millennial market?

It may come as a shock to many that millennials are typically drawn to the style and charm of older designs. Although they want some modern upgrades, high-end appliances, and recessed lighting, they are also very interested in pre-war details, mid-century modern, and Mediterranean style.

      • Pre-War: The homes constructed prior to World War II are characterized as having stucco, brick, or stone exteriors and old-world charm and character within. Victorian homes such as Italianates, Queen Anne, Arts & Crafts bungalows, Tudors, Colonials, California Missions, and Greek Revivals all fall within the pre-war category.

      • Mid-Century: Homes built between 1945 and 1965 fall into the mid-century category, which is known for its sleek style and modern appeal. Famous architects and builders who constructed mid-century homes include Frank Lloyd Wright, Streng, and Eichler. These homes are characterized by having flat roofs, triangular windows, geometric shapes, and open floorplans.  

      • Mediterranean: Spanish and Italian tiles, stucco exteriors, tiles roofs, and various interior levels are among the many characteristics that make up a Mediterranean home. These homes typically have wrought-iron accents, ceramic flooring, winding staircases and patios filled with rustic, terracotta pottery.

How should a home be decorated to appeal to the millennial market?

      • Farmhouse Sinks

Take one look at a trendy interior designer’s Instagram account, and you will see farmhouse sinks galore. These are not only rising in popularity for their beautiful aesthetic, but they are also highly functional and are more spacious than traditional sinks. However, bear in mind that farmhouse sinks do not work in every home. If you have a Victorian-style home, a farmhouse sink will most-likely look out-of-place. Consult with interior designers prior to investing in this design trend to ensure that it will blend well with your space.

      • Integrated cabinetry

Millennials have a great appreciation for fine lines and clean, simple designs. Integrated cabinetry in kitchens and bathrooms offer a clean, simple appeal and can make a room appear larger than it is.

      • Smart home technology

If your home has any type of smart home technology, whether it be a Nest thermostat, automatic lighting, etc., be sure to mention that when writing the property description for your home. Although millennials are often drawn to old-world design, they also value the importance in utilizing sustainable, smart home tech.

      • Earthy tones

Millennials have an affinity for the “indoor-outdoor” aesthetic, making a home feel as though nature has been incorporated into the interior space. Earthy tones and soft colors such as blues, greens, and browns contrasted with bright hues of red or orange accents are ideal.


Ryan Fitzgerald Raleigh RealtyHi there! I'm Ryan Fitzgerald, a REALTOR in Raleigh-Durham, NC and the owner of Raleigh Realty. Chances are you and I share a similar passion, Real Estate! I also have a passion for building businesses, working out, inspiring others, technology, sports, and people. Connect with me on Facebook and Instagram!

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