Many young buyers are saddled with debt and not able to buy even an entry-level home, such as this one from Woodside Homes, which is geared to first-time buyers.
Eric Jamison Many young buyers are saddled with debt and not able to buy even an entry-level home, such as this one from Woodside Homes, which is geared to first-time buyers.

The millennial generation is poised to make a significant impact on home design--but first, many young consumers have to move out of their parents’ homes and into a place of their own, according to NAHB researcher Rose Quint. In 2015, about 15 percent of adults ages 25-34 lived with a parent, translating into 1.3 million people who normally would be forming their own households, Quint said last week at a press conference during the 2016 International Builders’ Show in Las Vegas.

Quint had anticipated that new mortgage programs and looser mortgage insurance requirements unveiled a year ago would have led to an increase in consumers buying homes for the first time. But a look at the size of the typical new single-family home in 2015 found the opposite: Home sizes grew to an average of 2,721 square feet, the highest yet, and an indication that the new-home market continues to be dominated by move-up buyers, rather than first-time buyers.

"Before we see that expected pullback in square footage and price, we’re going to have to see a significant return of the first-time buyer," who is more likely to buy a smaller home at a lower price point, Quint said.

This year, home buyers of all ages say they are looking for homes with separate laundry rooms, Energy-Star appliances and windows, exterior lighting and patios. Young buyers especially have strong preferences for energy efficiency and smart home technology; comfortable, workable kitchens and more casual spaces. What they don’t want are rooms with cork flooring, elevators, pet washing stations, expensive outdoor kitchens and fireplaces, and two-story entryways and family rooms. And their countertops should be granite, but never laminate, according to a fall 2015 survey of potential buyers.

At the same press gathering, Better Homes and Gardens brand executive editor Jill Waage echoed Quint’s findings on preferences for well-equipped kitchens and casual, comfortable living spaces--especially outdoor living rooms, where millennials want to entertain their families and friends. (SEE RELATED STORY: BUILDER Responsive Home is Now Complete)

What’s important about this generation is their comfort with technology. "They are the first generation to walk into homeownership with a smartphone in their hands," she said during the press conference.

These millennials want to use technology to make entertainment choices easier; monitor the comings and goings of family ments and reviews, and they know what’s worth it," and have probably created a Google alert so they know when it’s on sale, she said.

Their home improvement preferences center on home organization and workspaces, as the separation between working in an office and telecommuting continues to blur.

"This generation is searching out ideas, following bloggers," and creating Pinterest boards with their preferences, Waage said. "They’ve already curated their dream home online, saving it on their boards so they can [be ready] when the day finally comes.”