Baby boomers and millennials are the two largest buyer profiles in the market today. Boomers are currently driving the market, and there will certainly be some overlap in the next few years.
What if you could create a plan that appeals to both buyer profiles? The NEXTadventure show house that debuted at the International Builders' Show in January did just that, as many features of the NEXTadventure home are desired by both demographics.
Size: At just under 2,300 square feet, the home strikes a just-right size for couples and individuals. Boomers downsize looking to simplify their lives while millennials simply don’t need a lot of house yet. Dual-use rooms are a clever way to keep square footage in check.
Room Count: Fewer rooms are appealing to both groups. Additionally, both want to live casually and are willing to forgo the formality of certain rooms serving specific functions. The NEXTadventure home has two bedrooms in addition to flex space.
Dual-Use Room: The flex room in the NEXTadventure house is perfect for both buyer profiles since it can function as a home office and a guest room. For boomers, it can be a home office most days and a guest room when family visits. This buyer is often semi-retired, so a convenient home office is a must. Millennials crave flexible work hours and working from home is becoming more common. The flex room also can easily function as an Airbnb when needed.
Entertaining Kitchens: Members of both groups recognize that the kitchen is important when hosting guests. The show house knocks it out of the park with a an easy-to-navigate kitchen and a functional “messy kitchen” just around the corner.
Wine: Both boomers and millennials enjoy wine—considerably more than the Generation X buyers between them, according to research. The wine room in the NEXTadventure home appeals to both demographics and offers ample storage for keeping bottles on hand.
Pet Rooms: Pets are the surrogate children for both buyers. Millennials might be practicing for or putting off the real thing, while boomers enjoy that pets can't talk back. Regardless, this laundry room features clever solutions for pets including a bed and an out-of-the-way spot for food. A Dutch door was added to contain the puppy you’re training or restrain the dog that likes to jump on guests without confining them completely.
Outdoor Living: As both a visual and functional extension of the indoor casual living, the NEXTadventure has exactly what both buyer groups want. This is an entertaining space with dining, lounging, and cooking areas. The TV is perfect for watching football games outside in the fall, and the fireplace keeps them warm in the winter.
Spa-like Bath: Many boomers have figured out they didn’t use the tub in their last house, and all they really want is an awesome shower. With millennials, they’re OK with waiting to get a tub in their next house.
Elevations: Everyone assumes the millennial buyer would love the “moderated modern” style of the NEXTadventure house. However, in our millennial focus group, the front porch resonates first and foremost with them, followed by “not so cookie-cutter” look. Not surprisingly, boomers also liked the front porch. Both wanted a house that didn’t look like their parent's house.
Naturally, there are some alterations that could be made to the design to meet the preferences and the needs of millennials, including lower cost.
Options and Upgrades
The NEXTadventure home is filled with options and upgrades that the boomer is willing to pay for because they have the money and they see the value in them. After years of building a life and raising a family, why not live it up while downsizing? For millennials, homeownership is a marathon, not a sprint. They are just starting out and know they can upgrade later. Focusing on areas that can be upgraded later for them will appeal to the DIY value-hunter.
Starting in the kitchen, the beverage center can be omitted, which creates a place for furniture. The high-end cabinet pantry can be converted into a walk-in pantry with simple shelving for a huge savings. The same is true for the cabinetry in the owner’s entry, which can be incorporated later. The good news in the master closet is it still offers great storage at a reduced price with simple wire shelving—also something that can be upgraded down the line.
Boomers want low maintenance and easy to clean finishes, while millennial buyers want affordability and know finishes can be upgraded at any point. For example, carpet can be replaced three to four times for the same initial cost as tile floors. After growing up watching HGTV network, millennials would rather save for high-end flooring later than pay for the low-spec tile that they can afford now. Reducing the amount of tile in the NEXTadventure house both inside and out will save big on cost (see floor plan). Exterior finishes, including the concrete tile roof and modern stone, could also be eliminated in favor of less expensive roofing and using two body colors to animate the exterior without the stone.
Where lighting is concerned, it is far more important to the boomer buyer, who needs six times more light to see than the millennial. Reducing the number of windows and artificial lighting offers great savings for younger eyes. There are at least seven windows that can be eliminated from the plan and never missed by the millennial (see the floor plan). The glass barn doors at the flex room that let in natural light when closed can be replaced with standard doors held up by a track, and the pendant light fixtures can be prewired for later installation.
Boomers really need storage options after years of collecting “things.” The Florida basement in this design is the perfect solution. This is a feature millennials could skip, opting instead for a slightly deeper garage.
Lastly, there are a few permanent structural changes that could reduce the cost of the home for the millennial buyer. The 10-foot-tall ceiling could be dropped to 9 feet 4 inches, which also eliminates the Florida basement option. Window size can drop from 6 feet tall to 5 feet tall, reducing light but offering an energy-efficient, cost-effective solution. Additionally, the interior doors can go from 8 feet tall to 6 feet, 8 inches tall, which offers greater savings and will still look proportional to the lowered ceiling height. If looking for more savings, the stacking and disappearing corner sliding glass doors can be replaced with windows and smaller, more affordable sliding glass doors, and the bay window in the master bedroom could be eliminated to create a simple roofline.
The good news is there are strong, similar floor plans and lifestyle preferences for both buyer profiles. The challenge is the differences in net worth and credit score. By creating the perfect floor plan inspired by the way these buyers want to live, we can reward boomers while remaining accessible to first-time buyers. Do this effectively, and you will be ready to act when the time comes to build for both generations.