Millennial Home Buying Trends: A Realtor Speaks Out

    Kate Wright/by permission

    Networx interviews Kate Wright, Gold Award-winning broker at Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Metro Brokers, Atlanta. Read all about Kate’s experience working with young home purchasers.

    What percentage of your clientele are millennials?

    I would say 75 percent.

    How are millennials different from older buyers?

    Their budgets are not usually as big and their priorities aren’t the same as older buyers. They often haven’t been homeowners before.

    They’re surprisingly open to advice from me as an agent. Most millennials make very educated decisions when they actually purchase, but don’t necessarily intend it to be their forever home. They hope to grow in terms of careers and family size, so many select their first homes planning to be there only about 5 years.

    What type of properties would you show a millennial client?

    I have a wide range of millennial buyers. It’s hard to put my finger on a specific property type they’re purchasing. Some are looking for whatever they can get their hands on in town, to be close to the BeltLine or places to socialize. Others, who’ve been married for a few years and might have a kid, prefer to be in the suburbs, near good schools.

    Are they interested in getting a deal on a fixer-upper and restoring it?

    HGTV and social media have convinced a lot of millennials that’s a possibility. They start out telling me, “We’re open to renovating the whole house.” Then we begin talking costs. Obviously, I’m not a contractor but I give them a broad estimate of what clients have paid in the past for renovations. They tend to decide that type of project is overwhelming financially. I would say 95 percent of my clients end up going with something move-in ready.

    When would they be likely to hire a remodeling contractor?

    In my experience, not many millennials do all their home improvement immediately on purchasing. More often, they get going after 1.5-2 years of living in that home. By that point, their budget may allow for projects, because they put money aside, got a raise at work, or got married, bringing another income into the house.

    At that point, I’ll receive phone calls, emails, and texts, asking, “Hey, do you know a good contractor?”

    What types of projects do they do eventually?

    Several clients took on a bathroom or kitchen remodel, and major yardwork – adding a covered porch, grading and putting down sod, installing a fence, or creating an outdoor space to entertain. A few finished their basements.

    Was that for themselves or resale?

    A lot consider resale when they do the project, but they want to enjoy the renovation themselves, too.

    What kind of buying advice would you give to a millennial?

    My #1 piece of advice for people who’d like to buy but don’t know where to start is: Focus on what your needs are currently.

    • What do you do when you come home now?
    • Where do you spend your time?
    • Are you at the office most days?
    • Do you have a family?
    • Do you need a backyard?

    As a millennial myself, I think we’re easily distracted by fantasies (“If I live in Inman Park, I’m going out for dinner every night!”), not realizing the cost of living there is so high it won’t be much fun to be social, because now our budget’s busted.

    Let’s find something that makes sense for your work and your current life, not the life you think you’ll have. You can get into town and go out with your friends on the weekend, if you want, but if you buy there and overpay, you’re stuck.

    How about advice for a seller who wants to appeal to all ages?

    For any age group, present your house in the most neutral, clean, well-cared-for way. Fix things that need repair. Paint the house neutral colors. Get carpets cleaned. Remove any personal items, related to teams, kids, pets. Make it a blank canvas for whoever comes to visit so they can picture themselves living there.

    Any additional comments on millennial home buying trends?

    Working with multiple generations, I find a stigma that millennials really aren’t buying homes. There’s a stereotype: “They still live with their parents” or “They’re going to be renters forever” but personally, I’ve met many very responsible millennials, who do want to be homeowners and still consider it part of the American dream.

    That makes me happy and proud. I love working with millennials!

    Laura Firszt writes for

    Updated October 21, 2018.

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