As the next generation of consumers, Millennials (also known as Generation Y and the New Boomers) have become a driving force in the housing market. It has been interesting for me to discover that this rising generation is driven by a different set of values and priorities than we have seen with Gen X homebuyers and Baby Boomers.
Gen Y (typically categorized as born between 1980 and 2001) is truly a product of their environment. Because Millennials came of age during turbulent economic times, they saw the values of family homes plummet. It is also significant that Millennials grew up with the Internet. They crave information and are deeply in tune with the many options available to them. They are open to diversity and have the tendency to evaluate decisions through social media. Millennials also seem to have an almost universal green streak. Having a healthy work/life balance is a big priority.
Therefore, it is no surprise that Millennials prefer to purchase homes in city centers and urban neighborhoods. Cookie-cutter suburbs hold little appeal. Millennials refuse to waste valuable time commuting. They have a desire to live in walkable neighborhoods, with access to public transportation, near work, friends and entertainment.
City living feeds the Millennial’s desire for an urban lifestyle, but it also provides peace of mind. Homes in city centers consistently hold better value than homes in the suburbs. Additionally, the lessening demand for suburban living will help decrease urban sprawl and reduce the strain that commuting places on the environment. These factors feed the Millennials’ desire for “green living.”
This is why industry experts have come to call Millennials the first Smart Growth Generation in America. The goal of Smart Growth is to build communities with access to public transportation and reduce the distance between housing, jobs, shops and schools. Smart Growth has led to the transformation of cities across the nation.
Leading the charge is Smart Growth America, an organization responsible for building accessibility, sustainability and livability into city policies. Efforts include increasing bike lanes, building walkable communities and increasing public transportation. If this trend continues we should see the revitalization of city centers across the nation. The home buying habits of Gen Y continues to drive this movement.