No matter where you live in the United States, no matter what your profession, background or generation, no doubt you have seen and heard much about the generation called the “millennials.”
According to the most largely accepted theory, these are the folks born between 1981 and 1997. While I’m not a fan of labeling and stereotyping groups of people, in my experience I have noticed certain behavioral patterns shared by most millennials. Because of the widespread media coverage, this generation has been painted by many different brushes, some of which carry negative connotations.
In my opinion, however, millennials have been largely misunderstood by older generations because of the unique way they think and communicate. (I know someone has no idea about the millennials when he or she calls them “millenniums”!)
Throughout my real estate career I have been fortunate enough to work with quite a few millennial homebuyers and sellers. Because of my role as a broker, I have also gained valuable knowledge about the likes, dislikes, expectations and fears of the millennials from the agents I coach. Using that firsthand experience I’m excited to share some tips with would-be sellers on how to make your home attractive to millennials.
Millennials are set to become the largest homebuying generation in U.S. history and, more than likely, a millennial may be the next buyer of your home.
If you were asked to guess the top-selling feature in a house, what would you guess? If you said the kitchen, you hit the jackpot. But not just any kitchen. Millennials love the concept of a remodeled open kitchen, and light cabinets and white or gray granite countertops are musts. Add stainless-steel appliances, backsplash, cool plumbing fixtures and recessed lighting, and you have a winner.
If it’s at all possible to open up your kitchen into your living/dining room, the expense will be well-justified.
The next thing our millennial friends pay close attention to is — you guessed it — the bathrooms. I’ve noticed that having a remodeled walk-in shower has become a lot more desirable than a traditional tub. Floor-to-ceiling tile mixed with some inexpensive mosaic designs create the “wow” factor.
Again, soft and light colors will serve you well. Don’t shy away from using cool sinks and vanities. They combine nicely with the concept of a modern bathroom.
Now that we have the heavy hitters out of the way, let’s see what else in the house can be appealing to a millennial buyer.
Flooring is a big one. Having light wood or laminate in the main living areas makes the space appear larger and aesthetically more pleasing. A relatively newer alternative is the luxury vinyl plank flooring with a wood look. It’s less expensive but just as durable, if not more so, than wood. Neutral off-white, gray or light blue paint is the color of choice for this generation. Crown moldings can add a nice touch.
Technology in the house is also something that resonates with today’s younger buyers. I’m talking about high-tech security systems with touch pads, smart devices like thermostats, the “Ring”-style doorbell/security system and remote-controlled lights and ceiling fans. Even a modern wall-mount electric fireplace can add a lot of character.
And, of course, let’s not forget about the exterior. Do what’s reasonably possible to add great curb appeal to your house. By far, one of the most important exterior features millennials look at closely is the age of the roof. Having a new roof sometimes makes or breaks the deal. Manicured landscaping and a painted front door and trim can greatly enhance the outside appearance.
What if you can’t afford these upgrades?
You may be thinking by now, “It all sounds great, but it costs a lot of money.” That might be true. But, generally, millennials are willing to pay more for a house that has everything they want. And in today’s market, with such low inventory, they don’t always have the luxury of choice.
If there is no way you can afford remodeling and prepping your house for sale, there is still something you can do that may help you and that doesn’t cost much, if anything. Let’s say you know you have an outdated kitchen, bathrooms or floors. Why don’t you call a contractor and get estimates for the work, including opening up a kitchen if necessary?
Ask for some renderings or for “after” pictures of similar kitchens they have done. Having an estimate with the visuals can help the buyer see beyond the current condition and budget for the cost. It’s the fear of the unknown that scares people, and often they think the work will cost more than it really does.
Of course, you would also make a pricing adjustment to allow the buyers to do the work themselves and still feel that they got a fair price. Ask your Realtor for advice in this regard.
Don’t forget to be transparent
If there is one important lesson today’s sellers should learn that will help them have a smooth sale, it’s to be transparent. What does that mean, and how do you do it?
Virginia is a caveat emptor, or “buyer beware,” state, which means the seller is not under obligation to disclose anything with the exception of a few very specific items (such as lead-based paint, zoning violations, etc.).
That doesn’t mean you should take advantage of the buyers. I think the opposite is true. If buyers see the sellers as honest, upfront and transparent, it adds trust and goodwill. That, in turn, translates to a smooth sale.
One of the best ways to demonstrate transparency is to do a pre-listing home inspection, make the recommended repairs and disclose the ones you weren’t able to do. This is yet another example of neutralizing fear of the unknown, and most first-time buyers are suffering from it. Understandably so! Buying a house is one of the biggest decisions they are making up to that point.
I recently read an article debunking the myth that millennials prefer renting vs. buying. It talked about a new study that revealed that not only do they prefer buying, but moreover, they intend to buy several homes in their lifetimes.
This should offer us encouragement that the future of the housing market is bright.