There’s no denying that millennials have a large presence in the housing market. The generation is outpacing baby boomers by more than 15 million, and research from Demand Institute forecasts millennials spending $1.6 trillion on home purchases by 2018. That’s some incredible spending power, and home builders are taking notice.
Millennials have become much more decisive about living space needs as they’ve gotten older. Their new homes include more tech-centric innovations than those of their parents, but common themes of convenience, connection and community register just as prominently as they have with previous generations (only now connection means more to a smartphone and less to a land line). Our company, McLean, Va.-based home builder and developer Miller & Smith, spotted — and incorporated — three housing trends that are popular with the millennial mindset.
For many millennials, a key feature in a new home isn’t always the home itself — it’s the surrounding community. The opportunity to take part in a social atmosphere that offers culture, recreation and the chance to meet one’s neighbors is a must for younger buyers.
Mixed-use communities, such as Embrey Mill or Brambleton, both in northern Virginia, address this demand by offering a number of events, entertainment and activities, from farmers’ markets to summer concerts and charity runs, right outside their residents’ doors.
Parks, walking trails and green space — whether for spontaneous get-togethers or moments of quiet reflection — are also popular features of mixed-use communities. Tallyn Ridge, a new community in Frederick, Md., has a location connecting to a park with mountain views and hiking trails that allow residents to enjoy nature at a moment’s notice. The community’s grounds are also designed to offer a park-like feel with a wealth of trees, hills and trails.
Convenient outdoor living
Millennials avidly seek out homes that marry the outdoors and indoors. This group enjoys “urban-suburban” locales, which limit the upkeep of an individual backyard. That said, millennial home buyers also often crave their own piece of nature and wish to bridge the convenience and comfort of indoors with the relaxing, expansive feel of the outdoors.
Home builders are stepping up to this challenge by designing homes that use spacious rooftops and clever interior design to seamlessly merge outdoor spaces with indoor living. Upper West at One Loudoun, a new project in Loudoun County, Va., features open-air architecture with walls of glass and floor-to-ceiling windows that allow more than just a glimpse of the outdoor environment.
Upper West also brings forward every major living and entertaining space in a manner that integrates stunning views of Loudoun’s 100-plus-acre Central Park. As a final touch, residents can take in sunsets and panoramic views on a 400-square rooftop pied-à-terre that is larger than many studio apartments in Washington, D.C.
The connected home
Without question, millennials are more “plugged in” than any previous generation. Their lives revolve around the digital sphere, which means smart technology integration is a top priority in their homes.
In many ways, a concept once thought of as “the home of the future” is now considered a reality, which means saying goodbye to a basket full of remote controls. The market’s most innovative homes now focus around one central operating system and mobile platform, which cohesively coordinates and connects technology throughout a home. Home devices are now conveniently controlled through an online application on a smartphone, or one central remote.
So what does this mean for a home owner? An easier, more streamlined lifestyle. Homes such as Upper West at One Loudoun include built-in, high-tech features such as multi-room audio systems and high-end home networking that ensures connecting to Wi-Fi is as painless as possible. Upper West also features smart locks and keyless entry, which means less time spent searching for lost keys as your home can lock and unlock itself for you.
Millennials may be looking for dream homes that center heavily around technology, but they also place a surprising emphasis on the simpler elements of home life: connecting with neighbors in real time and the great outdoors. Times and generational tastes may be changing, but classic elements are evolving right along with them.
The original article, written by Doug Smith, was published in the Winter 2017 issue of Best in American Living.