What Millennial Home Buyers Want

There’s been a lot of debate lately about millennial home buyers. Is this is an emerging market that will align with projections, or will millennials defy all expectations? These are important questions, but for us, the most important question is this: what are millennial home buyers looking for in a home?

To answer this question, we conducted a unique study in which we gave millennials the opportunity to spend play money in order to upgrade the “average American home” however they see fit. As a result, we’ve been able to establish exactly what millennials value most, and what they value least.

First we established the average American home: 20+ years old, three bedrooms and two baths, a one car garage, an unfinished basement, and old appliances. All this sits on a quarter-acre lot in an average neighborhood, as part of an average school district. The approximate value of this home is $200,000.

Next, to set up the survey, we enlisted the help of one of Chicago’s top real estate agents, James DeMarco, Berkshire Hathaway Chicago’s “Rookie of the Year” in 2014 and Presidential Award recipient in 2015. We worked with James to establish characteristics that are most sought after in homes and on properties. Then we established approximate real life value ranges for those characteristics. (We understand assigning value in real estate is highly subjective–what’s important here is not the proposed cost of things, but how they relate to one another. What’s important is how millennials value things, relatively, in the vacuum of our game.)

Our respondents were given $300,000 to spend, using a hypothetical menu of 38 upgrades, with a combined value of $1,000,000. As a result, there were hard choices to make and our millennial respondents had to set clear priorities for themselves.

The results are fascinating, including these highlights:

  • New appliances were twice as popular as any three choices related to proximity to major cities.
  • Personal space is important – a large master bedroom was nearly three times as popular as property that’s over an acre in size.
  • For the same price, a finished basement was twice as popular as an above average school district.
  • Interior luxury is significantly more important than exterior. Luxury kitchens and master baths outperformed brick/masonry construction, roofing options and 2-story decks.