Many millennials are buying homes for the very first time, young people and families shuffling in search of larger space and land. And these fresh home hunters may be leading the way in this real estate boom. Will 2020 be dubbed the year of the Great Millennial Migration?

In October 2020, G&S conducted a series of snap polls to understand how COVID-19 has fundamentally reshaped consumer behaviors. Among those who do not own their home, nearly half (48%) are at least somewhat likely to buy their first home in the next year. That number rises among Gen Z and Millennials (adults aged 18 to 29), who said they were at least somewhat likely to buy their first home in the next year (53%).

Perhaps this comes as no surprise. The pandemic is motivating people at every stage of life to accelerate or alter their life plans. We all know friends who shifted wedding dates, adopted furry friends – lovingly nicknamed “pandemic pups” – bought a car or jumped to a new career during a time when countless professionals are working from home full-time.

The pandemic has put priorities into focus – and for some, that means investing in a new home. We break down the key stats, along with actionable insights for home and building companies to cater to first-time home buyers making the move.

Meet them in-person (safely, of course). First-time home buyers are ready to start hunting, but they still expect some handholding along the way. Among younger Americans (aged 18-29), over one quarter (27%) prefer in-person meetings with home professionals, followed closely by phone calls (24%) and then email and text messaging (20% and 16%, respectively).

Cater to their preference for move-in ready. Nearly half (46%) of adults aged 18-29 would prefer a move-in ready home. This means freedom from selecting all the fixtures, researching a renovation team, or managing budgets and a project timeline. Moving is already stressful enough, and the thought of adding potentially expensive remodels and drawn-out projects is no doubt driving this preference among less-experienced home buyers.

Even so, some buyers in this demographic would prefer a home that needs remodeling (30%), and some would even prefer to build a home (23%) from the ground up. Both of these offer the attractive option of customization, an important factor for home buyers looking to stay for the long term.

Simplify options to avoid decision fatigue. A preference for move-in readiness doesn’t mean buyers want to give up personalization altogether. But for many, the thought of making dozens of design decisions can feel daunting. The pandemic has only accelerated the issue, with people forced to make lifestyle-changing decisions on a weekly or daily basis. Should I send my child back to school? Are we comfortable dining out right now? When can we visit Grandma again?

Even those who are interested in homebuilding from the ground up or gut-renovating a property can suffer from decision fatigue. After comparing an array of paint swatches or similar-yet-different lighting fixtures, the process can start to feel like a chore.

Industry professionals can provide relief for house hunters by removing the seemingly endless string of options, instead allowing buyers to select designs or layouts from a series of inspiration photos. Block Renovation, for example, sticks to similar layouts for bath and kitchen remodels, instead offering customers two or three options for major decisions like countertops or bathroom tiles to reduce decision fatigue and improve the overall experience.

Ease WFH pains with lifestyle-centric features. Taylor Morrison, one of the nation’s largest homebuilders and developers, found that nearly 40% of millennials and 35% of Gen X homebuyers desire health and wellness features in a new home. Many are seeking the space to curate home gyms – even just enough room for a yoga mat. Work-from-home space has also become top of mind for buyers right now. They want office nooks and dedicated rooms to get away and focus on completing job-related tasks.

The company leveraged those insights this past summer with the release of LiveWell, its new standard offering for new, to-be-built homes. Features include whole-house air filtration systems, Honeywell T6 Pro Smart Thermostats with WiFi, and Sherwin Williams Harmony paints with chemical-free formulas to promote better indoor air quality.

As the pandemic has upended plans and lives this year, the meaning of home has shifted. We’re making more memories, spending more time with loved ones, and working, schooling and working out in the same space. For first-time home buyers, the hunt is for not only a new nest but also – with a little help from trusted real estate and home building companies – a source of solace.

 

This G&S Snap Poll was administered online in October 2020 to a representative U.S. sample of 1,050 adults aged 18. The sample has been balanced for age and gender based on the Census Bureau’s American Community survey to reflect the demographic composition of the U.S.

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