Millennial Home Ownership Rethinking Home Improvement

Tomas Quinones/flickrIt's a fascinating phenomenon. Millennials are the youngest entrants into the real estate marketplace, yet they make up more than a third of home buyers. And that's taking into account the fact that the junior members of the generation born between about 1982 through the early 2000s will not be old enough to qualify for a mortgage for another few years. (Minimum age is 18 in most states.)

Despite their youth, this group, also known as Generation Y, tends to buy resale properties, which are often older than the new homeowners themselves. All this means that millennial home ownership tends to spark a healthy interest in home improvement … but their approach is very different from their parents'. Whatever era you were born into, take a page from Gen Y's virtual notebook and update your own approach to home improvement and remodeling.

Set Your Priorities

Technology plays a major role in home design for millennials, in terms of both communications and smart house management. Thinking of adding a home office or a cozy reading nook? How about a more relevant area, instead -- less isolated and more accessible, conducive to Kindle-ing, tablet-ing, texting, and using other electronic devices? (A generation that loves to work in the high energy atmosphere of coffee shops appreciates flexible space and chances are you'll learn to like it, too.)

Millennials are jumping onto the smart house bandwagon … and rightly so, for a number of excellent reasons: 1) comfort, 2) environmental friendliness combined with budget-friendly savings on utility bills, and 3) security. To accommodate these priorities, contact an electrician about including an electrical panel upgrade, together with easily-accessible yet neat-looking electric outlets and electronics chargers, on your home improvement to-do list.

Play with Ideas

Ideas for home improvement abound on the social media superhighway. Stop by where the millennials gather: Pinterest for decorating and revamping suggestions, Hometalk forum discussions with DIY mavens and pros, or how-to videos courtesy of YouTube. All of these provide a mixture of inspiration and expertise.

Armed with a vision of how you want to upgrade your home, then turn to the fascinating array of software that will help you reach your goals. For example, try out different paint colors on photos of each of your rooms -- or your home's exterior; color envisioning programs offered free by major house paint manufacturers allow you to experiment freely with a rainbow of shades, without investing a dime in product or labor. If your home improvement agenda includes structural changes, draw up your plans in three dimensions with Google's SketchUp or similar 3-D CAD (computer-aided design) software.

Work with Professionals

The old days when homeowners relied on building professionals as their main source of information and advice are long gone. Do your homework like tech-savvy millennials and find out for yourself the facts and figures related to any home improvement projects that you're considering. Research products, techniques, and prices. You will then be in the confident position of knowing the basic facts; from there you can ask for interpretations and advice from any remodeling professionals you might hire.

Take another tip from moneywise millennial homeownership and save some cash on your renovation by doing part of it yourself. Once again, consult your home improvement pro in advance about what is feasible on a DIY basis and what is best left in the hands of the experts. For instance, if you're planning to install new hardwood flooring, you could do your bit by removing old carpet first.

Laura Firszt writes for

Updated October 21, 2018.

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