The Great Debate

Houses on residential street in spring

Will it be the Millennials or the Boomers who shape our cities and suburbs in the decades to come?

What will these places and spaces look like? Will the Millennials follow the same paths their parents did and move to the suburbs? Will empty nesters sell their single family homes and move to more urban, walkable locations?

That’s what a panel of experts sought to answer at the 2016 International Builder Show in Las Vegas to see if they could change attendee’s opinions about these two markets and their influence.

Baby boomers have more income to spend on housing, but it’s the millennials lifestyle that seems to be so different from past generations. Surprisingly, millennials are showing a stronger desire for bigger houses with more bedrooms than first-time home buyers from previous generations. One of the debaters, Mitch Levinson from mRelevance, said that “Millennials are waiting a little longer to get the American dream because they are not willing to settle for what their parents settled for in a first house.” 83% of Millennials surveyed said more space is the biggest motivator to purchase a home. 71% of Millennials say it’s important for their home to have the ability to be personalized and it’s the millennials who drive companies to push the boundaries on technology. Millennials also want their homes to be “greener” than previous generations. Millennials want a different product than previous generations; a product that needs to be built.

However, by 2030 the U.S. will have twice as many people over the age of 65 as we have today, and those boomers are responsible for at least $7.1 trillion in annual economic activity, meaning they have more wealth and spending power than millennials. Seventy-six million baby boomers are in the U.S. alone, and in the next 15 years, the number of Americans over the age of 65 is expected to double. 78% of adults ages 45+ would like to stay in their current residence for as long as possible, but most houses haven’t been designed to adapt. American homes have traditionally been designed and built for able-bodied 35 year olds. This will also require a new product to enter the market

Stephen Moore , BSB Design, West Des Moines, IA
Rachel Flint, Hubbell Homes, West Des Moines, IA
Mitch Levinson, mRelevance LLC, Arlington Heights, IL
Aldea Douglas, AARP, Washington, DC
Doug Van Lerberghe, KEPHART, Denver, CO

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