Posted in on January 19, 2016

For Housing, Are Baby Boomers and Millennials More Alike Than You Think?

This week I am writing from the International Builders’ Show in Las Vegas. I’m particularly excited because during this year’s conference I will be part of a panel of real estate industry suppliers discussing housing for Baby Boomers and Millennials.

To read some of the headlines, you’d think these weren’t only two generations, but two different species. But we aim to reveal similarities that could lead builders and developers to greater success in marketing to both groups. On Thursday, January 21st, I’ll be addressing this topic with experts from KEPHART, an architecture and land planning firm, and Market Perspectives, a real estate research firm.

Diversity Driven

To be sure, Boomers have more complex household structures than any prior generation. Boomer households are not only made up of people with wide age differences, but Boomers themselves vary greatly in their stages of life — from lifelong singles to the newly single (after divorce or a partner’s death) to the newly remarried. A 55-year-old in a household could be a first-time parent, a seasoned grandparent or childless. Many also are caring for elderly parents. So is it any wonder that only 35% of Baby Boomers say they want to be in an age-qualified community? Age is no longer the dominant factor in their lifestyle.

Urban living appeals to both baby boomers and millennials - a key housing trend.There’s a different kind of diversity influencing Millennial households. While they prefer to socialize with people of their age group, this generational cohort is seeking out people and activities of all stripes.

An Urban Land Institute study found that 62% of Millennial respondents favor mixed-use developments that bring diverse people together. And 40% of the 18- to 34-year-olds surveyed prefer city living — a remarkably similar percentage to Boomers who value urban life!

Common Values

In fact, Baby Boomers and Millennials value many of the same things. For me, this isn’t so surprising when I consider the many studies showing how close today’s young adults are to their Gen X and Boomer parents. Each group influences the other.

This slide from Thursday’s presentation at the International Builders Show illustrates some of the common, intergenerational values:

Baby Boomers and Millennials share many Common values that housing builders and developers should cater to.

Convenience AND Control

Millennials and Boomers are both very, very busy, and they prioritize convenience to pursue favored activities more freely. And both cohorts want greater control over their housing dollars.

For Millennials, this reflects the need for affordability. No generation has ever been saddled with as much debt at this stage in their lives as Gen Y.

Baby Boomers also have a higher debt load at their lifestage than the cohorts that preceded them. They also have a need for flexibility that reflects a generational mindset: Every Boomer is, indeed, one of a kind.

This means that builders who offer buyers and renters more control over fees — such as a la carte services rather than bundled — will be appealing to both groups. Give them easy and convenient ways to manage their budgets.

Understanding common perspectives and values gives smart builders a strong foundation to design — and market! — homes that appeal to both Baby Boomers and Millennials.

Are you attending the 2016 International Builders Show? JOIN US to learn more about Millennials, Baby Boomers and Housing trends on Thursday, Jan. 21st, at 10:00am in South 231.

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