As we enter the second decade of the 21st century, there is a unique road ahead for the real estate market. The market now has not one but three important generations to consider, each with very different needs and aspirations. When selling your property, keep these different buyer profiles in mind.
Let’s start with the oldest generation among the three, the Baby Boomers. Globally and particularly in the USA, this generation has been a social disrupter. To understand this generation, it helps to first understand the world forces that shaped their beliefs, and drives their purchases.
The formative experiences of Baby boomers were the post-war economic boom, the Cold War, the Vietnam War, the emergence of youth culture (i.e., Woodstock), and an emphasis on family. Their main aspiration is what we think of as the American Dream; a stable job, a house in the suburbs, and enjoying life, especially in retirement.
Now, this generation is mostly in their late 50s and the oldest are in their 70’s. Many are still working, as they believe in being young forever. Most of them own homes, sometimes more than one. What they seek in a new place to live has undergone a vast change since they first bought.
As it is predicted that this generation will live long lives, with many reaching 100 years old, their focus is now on downsizing their home into a space where they can age comfortably. They want a house fitted with amenities that will make their life easier as they grow old, so they can still live independently. They like technology that will make living easier without the home looking like a nursing facility. Often resisting the call to live with their grown children, they want a house with a single level, energy efficient heating and cooling, and security features like cameras and alarm systems. A sizeable percentage of Boomers do not make much use of smartphones, other than as a telephone.
The next group is Generation X (born 1965 – 1980). They are frequently overlooked because they are sandwiched between two exceptionally large demographic groups (Baby Boomers and Millennials), but they are now the active working force in most countries including the USA. They are mostly in their late 40s to early 50s and so are at a prime age for buying a home that will suit them for many years to come.
Some of the formative experiences of this generation are the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War, as well as the beginnings of mobile technology and the proliferation of PCs into everyday life.
Most were “latchkey kids” as parents worked full-time, and a large proportion of them came from single-parent homes as the rate of divorce increased. Their drive is to find a comfortable balance between work and leisure time.
As far as employment goes, they are true to their profession, not so much their employer. Unlike Boomers, they will readily change employers, while staying in the same field. When it comes to sm technology, they are “digital immigrants” and desktops or laptops are still their preferred digital device, rather than smartphones or mobile devices.
When it comes to buying a house, they are looking for a place that can accommodate young adult children living with them, as well as aging parents. Functionality is the primary feature they are looking for in their home. This means features like extra storage space, an in-law apartment or secondary ensuite bedroom, a pet-friendly area, and a large, level yard. Sustainability is also becoming more a factor, as this group is growing conscious of living an eco-friendly life.
Born between 1981 and 1996, Millennials are now the strongest home buying force in the real estate market, and most of them are first-time home buyers. Among the shaping experiences of this generation are the 9/11 terrorist attack, the meteoric rise of social media, reality TV, and the Iraq wars. Their focus is on finding freedom and flexibility in every aspect of their life whether it is their career, studies, or home.
They are “digital natives” and pioneered the digital revolution that is shaping our world today. Smartphones and tablets are their preferred choice of communication. As far as real estate goes, Millennials have been the force behind the many changes we see today in design. Seamless indoor/outdoor living, open floorplans, homes that can be converted to a working space as well as multi-tasking kitchens are all due to the demands of the Millennials. One of the most frequent requests is for a room that can be used as an office.
Now that many of them are parents and know that their children will be “technoholics,” they need a child-friendly place to live: or cabinets and appliances that can double as chalkboard surfaces, a separate study or computer room, and especially finished basements where the children can play or homes with great yards.
When selling your home, consider its features and layout. Are you on a single level? Maybe you can focus your marketing efforts on Baby Boomers who want to avoid stairs. Do you share a backyard with the local nature preserve? Gen X might love that. What about your floor plan? Is it an open, airy space, or more a collection of cozy, separate rooms? Is your basement finished or large enough to finish? It will help you honestly assess the entirety of the property and then consider who might be your best demographic for selling.