MCA-From Wish List to Must Have: Our Top Ten for the Millennial Home-1

Keeping current is vital to any successful business. Consumer taste can spin on a dime and every industry from fast-food and fashion to electronics and automotive must keep up if it’s going to grab its share of the market. Living in this fast-paced, information driven world, we are all more discerning (and demanding) than ever. And no group is more so than the Millennials. Demons for convenience and flexibility, globally-attuned, adventurous but price sensitive, when it comes to consumption, this generation does its homework more thoroughly and assesses it options more deeply before making a commitment. After postponing home ownership longer than previous generations (thanks to student loan debt and a spotty job market), Millennials are beginning to make the move when the product is right.


According to National Association of Realtors statistics, Millennials account for more than a third of all current homebuyers. And everyone, from banks offering new programs for first-time buyers with lower down payment requirements, to such house-hunting services as Zillow’s On, where users can calculate their total monthly home expenses, is gearing up to accommodate this generation, which according to the 2016 State of the Nation’s Housing Report from the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University will establish 2 million households per year, reaching 40 million in 2025.

Whether hinting at historic periods with millwork and other decorative details, or striking a completely contemporary profile, the made-for-the-Millennial home needs to feel roomy, no matter what the square footage. An open floor plan offers that sense of spaciousness and the casual vibe cherished by these younger homebuyers.

A generation that prizes experience over possessions, the artisanal over the everyday, Uber-ing over filling a gas tank, Millennials aren’t likely to swoon over a center hall Colonial, a cookie-cutter condo, or off-the-rack rental. For builders, architects, and developers aiming to tap into this market, it’s time to tweak the product, fashioning residences that dovetail with the Millennial lifestyle.

Not surprisingly, this tech-savvy generation expects their homes to be as connected as they are. And that means more than electrical outlets everywhere.  Once a cutting-edge amenity for a small contingent of homebuyers, smart technology from phone and tablet activated A.V. systems, lighting, and thermostats to pre-heating ovens are standard equipment for the Millennial.

Flexibility rules. Free-flowing space allows new parents to keep an eye on kids at play, permits multiple activities in one zone, and makes it easy to entertain (no more crowds underfoot in the kitchen while that tray of parmesan crusted quinoa bites in the living room goes untouched).

Working remotely is more common than ever, and a home office or dedicated workspace beats balancing a laptop on your lap any day.  In the past, buyers often wanted that home office to mimic what one might see in a downtown office tower, with bookshelves, filing systems, and room for massive printers, shredders, and fax machines. Today’s digital reality eliminates the need for much of that, allowing functional home offices to occupy far less real estate and maintain a design esthetic in sympathy with the rest of the residence.

Many successful Millennials living in cities have become accustomed to upscale finishes hardwood floors, stainless steel appliances, spa bathrooms and more.  So these quality touches are a must, as are well-designed storage and laundry rooms.

And while they may have come to expect these features, Millennials are also a generation that has had no problem sharing, doubling and even tripling up in luxury apartment buildings in order to enjoy a nice place convenient to work, restaurants, bars, and shops. That willingness to share space can carry over to first-time homebuyers, so a bedroom and bath to accommodate a roommate will be a welcome plus for those looking for a good way to manage the mortgage.

When it comes to keeping costs down, energy efficiency is key. Cutting back on the utility bill allows the Millennial to devote those savings to valuable experiential pursuits, and for the carbon-conscious, it’s a good feeling, too. Recycling and compost services, engineered stone countertops, and low-VOC cabinets, as well as in-wall hydration stations for refilling water bottles and in-unit HVAC systems, will further appeal to green buyers and renters.

Speaking of green, outdoor spaces cannot be overlooked, especially in urban or densely built suburban complexes. The simple two-chair balcony or standard rooftop pool no longer makes the grade.  Great travelers, Millennials are looking for resort-style spaces, artfully arranged with plantings and natural material furniture, as well as state-of-the art outdoor kitchens, infinity pools, television, Wi-Fi, and fire pits. And to foster a feeling of community central to the Millennial sensibility full-service fitness centers, lounge areas, and tech hubs should definitely be part of the program.

According to Census Bureau statistics, Millennials are the most ethnically and racially diverse generation in U.S. history. And arguably, one of the most curious, thanks in no small part to the Internet and social media. So, when it comes to outfitting public spaces, an eclectic approach is the way to go. Whether that means a rustic-industrial look or a country-modern mash-up, a project’s interior style should telegraph a distinct mood, an urbanity that expresses the Millennial’s defining curiosity and sense of adventure. Make their first home a part of that adventure.

Mary Cook & Josh Kassing

Written By

Mary Cook & Josh Kassing

Founder and President of Mary Cook Associates (MCA)