Millennials—Americans born between 1982 and 2000--are a varied group. Numbering 82 million strong according to the U.S. Census Bureau, they represent a key customer base for U.S. home builders. But as any builder knows, creating houses to satisfy such a large contingent of potential buyers can be daunting. Click here to take a virtual tour of the project.
“This demographic is very diverse, which makes it very hard to pin down on any one type of housing style,” says Sarah Unger, vice president of insights and strategic planning at New York City-based Ketchum Global Research and Communications.
Project planners for BUILDER’s two Responsive Homes are relying on Ketchum’s insights to create two show homes for the 2016 International Builder's Show that will crack the code on what young buyers want. One of the most important things the market research firm discovered is that young consumers appreciate living arrangements that can change and grow as their needs change. They want flexible spaces, adapatable floor plans, and other options that can accommodate shifting household composition, new family members (young or old), and changing work scenarios.
Because of this, millennials value homes that have the ability to be customized, Unger says. In fact, 71% of those surveyed say it’s important for their home to have the ability to be personalized and they’re willing to pay for it—spending up to 22% of their home-buying budget on customization options suited to their needs.
The Responsive Home project, which is now under construction outside of Las Vegas, encompasses two demonstration homes, each targeting a different type of millennial buyer: a 2,160-square-foot contemporary farmhouse and a 2,990-square-foot contemporary transitional concept home. While the smaller home is geared toward first-time buyers and the other is aimed at move-up customers, they both offer adaptable spaces that relate to each stage of life, says Hans Anderle, principal of Bassenian Lagoni Architects and lead architect for the Responsive Home project. For starters, both have upper-level loft areas that can be converted into bedrooms as the need arises.
In addition, the farmhouse style dwelling features a 380-square-foot optional flat over the garage that can be used to make room for situations such as elderly parents, a nanny, or guests. It also incorporates a downstairs master bedroom with full bath, kitchenette, and an outside entrance. Project designers envision this space being used for short- or long-term rentals. Ketchum research found that 35% of the millennials it surveyed would be likely to rent out space in their home to generate income.
“Perhaps this bedroom and bathroom downstairs could be for a roommate who comes in and helps the owner pay the cost of the first few years of the mortgage,” Anderle says.
The contemporary home, built for a more sophisticated, accomplished clientele, boasts a spacious casita behind the garage that provides full privacy for owners or their guests. It has a covered private patio, small kitchen, and full bath. The project team included an option to expand the casita or add a separate adjoining fitness room.
“The space is open to anybody depending on the family’s needs,” says Anderle. “That’s the strength of these homes—the flexibility of them.”
This story is the second in a series about how the Responsive Home project will respond to the needs and desires of young buyers. Click here for the last installment.