Defined as the generation born between 1981–1996, it’s safe to say that Millennials are not kids anymore. They have families, degrees, and high-paying jobs. They also make up the largest percentage of luxury real estate buyers — 37 percent, in fact, as of 2019. As Millennials become the new majority in real estate, they’re also exerting significant influence over amenities, design trends and the overall marketplace, with interests ranging from smart technology to organic materials. With that in mind, the following are some noteworthy, millennial-driven trends shaping the industry.
Urbanization (…or Back to the Suburbs?)
The Millennial preference for location has consisted of urban environments with all the community amenities for a hassle-free lifestyle. A whopping 47 percent even pictured themselves not owning a car one day. As the events of COVID-19 unfolded, however, this completely altered the real estate landscape. Across North America, our member real estate companies have reported substantial sales surges in the suburbs.
Beyond a departure from densely populated areas, suburbs and rural areas have offered additional advantages, namely house and lot size. Buyers are now looking for homes 20 to 30 percent larger in size — a huge contrast to the home sizes they were seeking earlier in the year. Today’s luxury buyer wants enough room for private offices, pools, tennis courts, large backyards and other lifestyle amenities, many of which are now more difficult to access outside the home.
It will be interesting to see how this trend shakes out long-term. Millennials are known for preferring walkable locations close to dining, shopping and other community offerings. As businesses are able to safely open back up, we may see a resurgence in the demand for walkability and nearby services.
Minimalism Makes Its Mark
Driving forces behind Millennial home design preferences include a desire to simplify their busy lifestyles and to alleviate an almost overwhelming access to information. “Millennials always see what’s trending, even if they don’t want to, making it easier for them to keep up with home design trends,” says Traci Connell, the Principal Lead Designer of the award-winning Traci Connell Interiors.
She describes this generation as being one that aspires to make their spaces “functional and aesthetically pleasing,” preferring minimalist design styles since their busy lives demand efficiency, adding “clutter is against everything they stand for.” Minimalism will be doubly desirable in a post-COVID world as cleanliness continues to be prioritized. This design style ensures that “there is less to clean and less upkeep.”
Another trend is the desire to reconnect to nature. Connell states, “Low-maintenance plants will continue to be all the rage during the next few years, and we will see new ways to incorporate organic materials into flooring, walls and other design features.”
Millennials are looking for a home that is as functional as it is aesthetically pleasing. To that end, they’re looking for amenities that fit their desired lifestyles, including cooking, entertaining, working from home, wellness and the ease of smart living. “Millennials enjoy experimenting with different techniques and cuisines, so we see the kitchen design being extremely important to the design of the home,” says Connell.
“Many Millennials would say the kitchen is the most important room in the home. However, what this generation values the most is efficiency. Functional storage and energy-saving appliances are essential kitchen amenities for them.”
Working from home has also been a growing trend in recent years, though it has received no greater attention than it is now. As previously stated, much of the interest in increased square footage has been the result of an increase in demand for home offices and wellness-oriented amenities — both of which were, up until now, enjoyed by most outside of the home. In a recent study, pools, spas, gyms and dedicated fitness rooms were labeled as “essential” or “nice to have.” We’re seeing similar patterns today, with searches for tennis courts, pools and other sports-related amenities being up across the Luxury Portfolio International network.
Millennials are also opting for properties with whole-house control systems, which involve everything from HVAC and lighting to music and entertainment systems. They also utilize technology to ensure safety and security, with roughly half considering surveillance cameras, security systems and auto-control surveillance to be not only preferred, but essential.
Similar to the way technology has streamlined the lives of Millennials, they are opting for the same simplified principles in their living spaces, incorporating minimalism into everything from design to smart home features. COVID-19 is shaping Millennial preferences, requiring more amenities of the home and possibly stalling the trend of urbanization. Time will tell how this demographic — and circumstances outside of their control — will reshape the industry.