The unique wants of the younger generation

There is no doubt that today’s Generation Y homebuyer is not like their older counterparts, says Adrian Goslett, CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa.  

“In today’s market, Generation Y buyers or those under the age of 30 years old are tech savvy and always on the go, so when it comes to purchasing a home they have different expectations and wants when compared to the older buyers in the market. These millennial buyers are often at different life stages to their predecessors with many still unmarried and without children. This changes their needs and what they are looking for in a property,” says Goslett.
He lists a few interesting features that Generation Y homebuyers are adding to their want list when looking for their perfect home:
Green features

Homes with energy-saving eco features such as solar panels and gas appliances are high on the list of essentials for today’s younger buyers, who are looking to reduce their carbon footprint, while saving on utility costs.

“More and more people have become increasingly conscious of environmental issues and are making an effort to reduce the impact they have on their surroundings,” says Goslett. “Younger generation buyers are also seeing the advantage of green features on their monthly expenses, particularly with the increasing cost of electricity.”
Ready to move in

Goslett says that while many of the older generation buyers may have been looking for a well-priced, fixer-upper property that they could renovate themselves, Generation Y buyers prefer homes that have already been renovated.  He notes that many of the millennial buyers also want lock-up-and go homes that require little maintenance and don’t occupy much of their time.
Smart features

Living in the era of rapid technological advancement means that high-tech has become high-priority among younger buyers. Millennial buyers are looking for homes with an integration of technology designed to allow the homeowner to control the home at a distance via a broadband connection. 
While in the past this was reserved for the more affluent homebuyers, advancement in technology and devices that use Wi-Fi or other wireless connections has made this home feature increasingly more accessible. “With the right installations, homeowners can control aspects of their home through applications on their smartphones or tablets. These are the kind of things that younger buyers have in mind when searching for their ideal home,” says Goslett. “Each generation makes buying decisions based on the trends and technology that is available to them, and the current generation has the world’s cutting-edge technology at their fingertips.”
A flexible space

Even though many of the younger generation buyers do not have a family right now, they are still looking for properties with an extra bedroom or space that they can customise to suit lifestyle changes. “Whether it is for a home office or gym, a games room or just an extra bedroom, Generation Y buyers want an additional space that they can use flexibly, both now and later when their circumstances or needs evolve,” says Goslett.
Smaller, open-plan living     

While Generation Y buyers want an extra bedroom or flexible space, that doesn’t necessarily mean they want bigger homes. According to Goslett, homes with smaller living spaces have become popular because they are much more manageable for younger buyers and more efficient, as they require less time to maintain and are less costly than larger homes. He notes that these buyers are also opting for homes with open-plan living spaces as they consider separate, more formal rooms a waste of living area. 

“Generation X buyers are currently driving the property market, with Deeds Office data provided by Lightstone indicating that the highest percentage of buyers in most of the regions throughout the country has been those aged between 36 and 49 years old. However it is the Generation Y buyers who are the future,” says Goslett. “This is evident in the fact that many areas are starting to show strong growth in buyers aged between 18 and 35 years old, according to Lightstone data. Added to this is the fact that Generation Y represents the biggest amount of births ever in the history of our country. It follows then, that Generation Y buyers will determine the trends we see in the real estate market over the next few years and will be a massive part of the market’s recovery,” he concludes.

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