A Generational Breakdown of the Most-Desired New Home Features
While it may be more about lifestyle than age, the search for a new home often begins when a specific chapter in the home buyer’s life is starting or coming to a close. Here are a few of the most-wanted new home features broken down by generation.
New Home Features Wanted by Millennial Home Buyers
Millennials are not the youngest generation of consumers by they’re currently the youngest generation of new home buyers, ranging in age from 17 to 36 (born between 1981 and 2000). They don’t really remember a time when they weren’t connected, digitally speaking. Many can’t bear the thought of being without their smartphones; in fact, a SYZYGY study found that 6 out of ten Millennials would rather give up breakfast for a month than be without their smartphone.
Everything digital: So – obviously – Millennials are the first generation to believe that “smartness” should be a part of their new homes, too. From automated entry systems to programmable panels that control heat, air, lighting – while memorizing the home owner’s preferences along the way – if there’s a generation that appreciates digital everything (and sometimes expects it) this is the one. And it won’t be the last one.
Everything flexible: You can’t make an open space concept floor plan open enough for Millennials when it comes to living spaces. This generation is on the go and they don’t want to be slowed down by closed off spaces or single-purpose rooms. While members of other generations have questioned the need for formal living and dining spaces, these home buyers want spaces that can be adapted to their needs, rather than demand a purpose.
Everything useable – but not necessarily visible: Given a choice, Millennial home buyers want new home features that focus on great use of space, including cabinets that go all the way to the ceiling, single large farmhouse sinks in lieu of the traditional double sink, hidden outlets and charging stations, under-cabinet lighting, and floor-level lighting that comes on when triggered by motion detectors in hallways, stairwells, bathrooms, and other spaces where a little light goes a long way.
New Home Features Wanted by Generation X Home Buyers
Born between 1966 and 1980, these home buyers range in age from 37 to 50-ish today. Sometimes known as the “lost” generation because they were the first true era of latchkey kids as children and currently have the lowest voting participation rate of any generation. But just because they aren’t the type to kick up a fuss or weigh in doesn’t mean they don’t have clear ideas of what they want in new home features when they get ready to buy.
Separation of Key Spaces: In the NAHB’s study titled Housing Preferences of the Boomer Generation: How they Compare to Other Home Buyers, Generation X’s number one desire in new home features was a separate laundry room. Also among their top desires are a front porch, patio, and living room.
Elimination of Unnecessary Spending: While Millennials and Gen Xers both ranked these separate spaces as important, three of the top 5 most wanted new home features for Generation X included ENERGY STAR rated appliances, whole home, and windows ratings. By contrast, ENERGY STAR rated appliances only made list once, coming in at the 10th spot for Millennial buyers. Gen Xers aren’t afraid to spend money, but they don’t want to overspend on utilities.
Main Floor Hardwood Flooring: While Gen Xers started their home buying years in homes largely characterized by wall to wall carpeting, having hardwood flooring on the main floor is a big plus to them (as well as Millennials).
New Home Features Wanted by Baby Boomers
Baby Boomers I (born 1946 to 1954) and II (born 1955 to 1965) currently range in age from 50 to about 70. With many already officially retired from the workforce, and millions more to retire over the next decade, it’s obvious that many are thinking in terms of not just an empty nest, but a house with new home features that will meet their changing lifestyle and physical needs over the years.
Comfort and Conservation: Not only are the 3 energy-related features ranked highly by Baby Boomers, they take 3 of the top 4 spots on their list. In addition, this generation ranks having insulation higher than required by code even higher than Seniors (or The Greatest Generation and WWII and Depression Era seniors).
Room to Maneuver: They also prefer some breathing room to high density community living, which ranks 8th on their list of least wanted new home features. Which is not to say they don’t want to live in neighborhoods with a sense of community; in fact, they want easy access to walking trails and common outdoors spaces where they can gather with family, friends, and neighbors.
One Floor Living: Baby Boomers are more likely than younger consumers to prefer ramblers or Ranch style homes, or at least homes with a master-on-main. That said, many have children and grandchildren and so homes that offer loft space and flex-use rooms that can be put into use when visitors arrive are also valued.
New Home Features Wanted by Seniors
Members of generations preceding the Baby Boomer generation have seen the way Americans live change radically; more than once. Their parents won the War to End All Wars, and their generation won World War II just a generation later. Many grew up with outhouses and walked to one-room schoolhouses as children. They lived through the Great Depression and many lived “waste not, want not” lifestyles their whole adult lives. Many of their priorities mirror those of Baby Boomers, however they are the only generation in the NAHB study to list table space for eating in the kitchen and double kitchen sink as top priorities.