American home builders face a huge challenge: to engage and captivate one of the country’s most influential yet least understood generations of home buyers. Millennials—broadly defined as those in the 25- to 34-year-old age range—represent the biggest share of new-home buyers in the U.S., but they are a hard sell. Sidelined by high unemployment, student loan debt, and tight credit, many young buyers have been slow to enter the market. In fact, the percentage of people under the age of 35 who own their home is just 36%—the lowest level on record, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
The question for U.S. home buyers is how to catalyze the members of this demographic, who are a diverse and demanding group. Early last year, BUILDER and one of the country’s largest home builders set out to crack the code on what this cohort wants in a new home. What we found might surprise you.
Working with TRI Pointe Group and Ketchum Global Research & Analytics, we took an in-depth look at the needs and wants of young buyers. Our findings reject many preconceived notions about millennials, debunking the myths that they are terrified of home buying and want to live only in urban locations. “We had a lot of misconceptions and stereotypes come up in our research,” says Sarah Unger, Ketchum’s vice president of insights and strategic planning.
Ketchum’s survey of 503 people ages 25 to 34 included 203 current homeowners and 300 individuals who plan to buy a house within 12 months. Among the chief findings were the age group’s interest in maximizing space and customizing and personalizing their homes. The study found that millennials gravitate toward homes with urban conveniences in suburban settings, plentiful outdoor space, and customizable floor plans. Living within walking distance to parks and schools and a sense of community also are high priorities.
“Being able to have the American dream and buy a home but not have it fall into the cookie-cutter version of a home is really, really important to millennials,” Unger says.
Born of this research, the BUILDER Responsive Home project at the Inspirada master planned community in Henderson, Nev., has immense implications for builders nationwide as they endeavor to woo this huge group, estimated at 75 million people. Designed by Bassenian Lagoni and built by TRI Pointe’s Pardee Homes unit, the pair of homes will be open to the public during the 2016 International Builders’ Show. Regardless of whether you make it to Henderson, read on for an in-depth look at how the homes provide inspiration, guidance, and insight for today’s home builders.