What Do Millennials Want From a Home? ZipRealty Agents Weigh

Our study of the Millennial generation has established this group to be the largest in American history. We’ve explored the national data showing that people of this age group care more than ever about walkability, ecology, originality, honesty, and economy. They try to meet these goals and challenges even in their first homes. Their priorities will have a direct effect on real estate as Millennial buyers take over the lion’s share of the market from the Baby Boomers they outnumber.


Now we look to ZipRealty’s own agents for actual examples of what young homebuyers look for. We’ve drawn from two agents at opposite ends of the country to see if our research on Millennials checks out.

First, Let’s Travel Back East

Adam Rice, a Zip Realtor in Boston, MA has several clients in that age range, which shouldn’t surprise anyone, given the culture, history, and vitality of this American city. “I recently closed with such a client, purchasing for herself and her boyfriend. They had been living in a small apartment in Boston. The goal of the search was to have the benefits of a fun location, limited maintenance, but the privacy of their own home.” This couple, like the other Millennials we’ve read about, wanted a walkable location. “They wanted to be able to walk to coffee shops, restaurants and shops.” In this case, the couple worked partially from home, another trend seen more often with this generation that any before it. So, easy, inviting places to take a break near home are important not only for entertainment, but for human interaction during the workday.

Adam’s experience also confirms that many Millennials want something more original than the average suburban sprawl’s “planned community” unit. He finds that many first-time buyers of this generation appreciate craftsmanship, something with original charm. Adam’s client couple wasn’t opposed to new construction per se, but was turned off by anything reminiscent of “cookie cutter” style. But many Millennials (Adam’s example among them) also like the idea of low maintenance; and they are very likely to appreciate modern advances in utility systems and sustainable building. For these reasons, some kinds of new construction with these sensibilities represented can make ideal first homes.

Also ideal for many of these buyers is a more manageable, modest home size. With Adam’s clients, “It never was important for them to have a ‘big’ house. It mattered more that they could keep up with whatever they bought. Things like a little bit of charm in a fireplace, older style moldings, and trim appealed to them. But it was important that any work they would do would be very manageable for them. The key systems of the home had to be in good shape.”

So what did this couple buy? Ultimately, they chose a single-family home over a condo to have the privacy they didn’t have before as renters, and to “have a place to walk the dog.”

Now, We Head Northwest

Zip Realtor Jeremy Fershleiser has a great deal of experience with clients in this age range. Over the course of his career, Jeremy says this generation of buyers has been his lifeblood, accounting for over half of his business. He estimates that last year he had 15 closings with Millennial clients. 14 of the 15 were first-time home purchases, all single-family houses.


Trends he’s noted, though they aren’t universal, mirror those we’ve already explored. Jeremy’s clients want to be “close in” in Portland, which means “limited driving and/or good public transportation to the heart of a metropolitan area.” Again, this generation truly wants to be able to walk places: Jeremy’s clients generally want to be within one mile of grocery stores, schools, and other daily essential services. Luckily, Portland offers several neighborhoods that fit this bill, which one reason the area attracts to many young buyers in the first place. But these are often modest size homes, and this generation seems to prefer it that way.

Jeremy himself appreciates this mindset. He and his wife, both of the Millennial generation, are moving back to Portland proper from the nearby suburb of Lake Oswego. “Our friends laugh at us as this is coinciding with the birth of our first child, and where we will be moving from is a location that is extremely sought after…. But we want less driving, less waste, improved walkability, and frankly to be surrounded by more of our peers.”

Millennial Goals May Be Just What the Planet Ordered

We’ll close with a quote from Jeremy, because he says so well what we’re thinking as we read about the values of the Millennial generation.

“I personally think this is a healthy trend that likely reflects on the ideals of this age group and a wish for a society that creates less waste: while maintaining a high standard of living, limits some of the excesses that we have seen in recent years.”