How to sell a Boomer’s house to a Millennial

Since it’s the baby boomer generation that is doing the downsizing today, we like this advice we found on the website of our PBS-associated friends over at NextAvenue.org. It’s from Greenwich, Connecticut’s Sabine Schoenberg, president of the real estate brokerage firm PrimeSitesCT and founder and host of ThisNewHouse.com. She offers four projects to snag a sale for your house if you’re the one who’s downsizing.

Newsflash to retiring boomers: Millennials account for 32-percent of real estate buyers, according to the National Association of Realtors. That’s why it’s essential to know what Millennials want in homes. Their values and desired lifestyles are very different than their boomer parents’.

boomers_house_forsale

Millennials, perhaps more than boomers, have very specific criteria when choosing homes. Make your house fit their criteria and you will expand buyer interest, which means your home will sell faster and probably at a higher price.

Generally speaking, when baby boomers bought homes to start families, they purchased what their budgets allowed and fixed them up over time. Nothing could be further from the minds , though, of typical Millennial buyers.

For the most part, Millennials are looking for the finished product and will pay for it. They want what they see in magazines — nothing less. They don’t seem to view themselves living in any one place for a very long time, so there’s no time for gradually rolled out home improvements.

Sabine Schoenberg

Sabine Schoenberg

The bottom line: To capture the highest selling price, undertake some key home renovations before listing your house for sale.

Here are four projects to consider:

1. Open the kitchen to a family room and combine them into one space. Millennials want kitchens that are great places to hang out with everyone while cooking. Even if the removal of a wall creates fewer cabinets and, in your mind, reduces the functionality of the kitchen, do it and increase the desirability of your home.

For the same social reason, if at all possible, give your kitchen a center island with room for stools, because that’s where Millennials want to congregate. (If you have a dining room, they may well turn it into their home office.)

2.  Be certain your home has easy WiFi access throughout the house. Millennials demand the ability to use their smartphones and tablets everywhere. So make sure cell signals are strong and, if they’re not, install WiFi boosters. A faltering cell signal can be a deal-breaker for Millennials.

3.  Fill your home with eco-friendly materials. Boomers taught Millennials that recycling was a big “green” idea. Millennials take this a giant step further, viewing themselves as “members of the planet.” Consequently, eco-friendly materials and lifestyle choices are a part of Millennial DNA.

Fast-grown materials like bamboo in flooring and wood with FSC (Forestry Stewardship Certification) in kitchen and bath cabinets are important considerations, and thus clear selling points.

Oh, and save yourself from any conversation about underground oil tanks; if you still have one, remove it before listing your house.

4.  Make sure your house is healthy for its inhabitants and visitors. Millennials want to see health-focused home improvements such as no-VOC (volatile organic compounds) off-gassing from paint; mold- and fungus-free basements, and good air quality. They also prefer wood flooring over carpet and look for super energy-efficient heating and cooling systems.

house-for-sale_3

That said, there are two other things you should know about Millennial buyers that you can’t do much about.

One is that accessibility to an urban center will figure into the pricing of your home. Millennials want to be walking distance or minutes from town. Being out in the boonies and spending lots of time driving is not appealing to them. If your house isn’t near a city, discuss with your listing broker how best to offset this negative.

Unlike boomers, who often opted for more property in exchange for slightly more remote locales, Millennials will accept smaller lots just to be near the city.

Major rebuild of a house in an old neighborhood near Washington, D. C.

Major rebuild and expansion of a house on a small lot in an old neighborhood near Washington, D. C.

The other issue you can’t do much about is that a large house may be a turn-off to Millennials. The-bigger-the-better mansion-sized homes were status symbols for super-successful boomers. But that concept is antithetical to Millennials, no matter how successful they are. Many of them reject size over efficient use of space.

As a real estate broker, I frequently hear statements from Millennial buyers like, “I don’t want to be in separate parts of the house and never see my family.”

For them, compact, well-designed “open concept” and “connected” floor plans are the order of the day.

Every seller can improve the value of his or her home. A bit of good planning, based on key trends, and the right upgrades can position yours for the broadest audience. In real estate, “good luck” is generally created.

© Twin Cities Public Television – 2016. All rights reserved.

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6 Comments on "How to sell a Boomer’s house to a Millennial"

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Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt
Guest
Very timely, as we’re about to downsize, and I was wondering whether to give a credit toward the buyer getting new carpeting or flooring or to replace everything before we show the house, thereby making decisions about flooring that other people will have to live with. The article implies that making the choices is the better way to go, because the people who might buy our house don’t want to have to spend their time to make changes. Some things can’t be changed – I’m not going to invest a lot of money on spec, and the floor plan isn’t… Read more »
Wayne Merry
Guest

Great Points! As a marketer for many years in lots of industries I have said “WHO WILL BUY THIS.” Many of the McMasions that I had in my old neighborhood have been on the market for over 3 years!

Barbara Falconer Newhall
Guest

A very timely article for me. I’m thinking of doing a major remodel just in order to make our house more comfortable for the two of us. This info gives me the go-ahead to do it: millennial buyers will want everything move-in ready. We can’t use our cell phones in our house, and that doesn’t bother us — but obviously we need to remedy that eventually. Am I really ready to open the kitchen up to the dining and living rooms? Hmm. Maybe I’ll really like it!

Sam Tidwell
Guest

Millennials are not the children of Boomers. Gen Xers are. Millennials are our grandkids. Other than that, a very informative article.

Alice
Guest

The main thing I want in a house is a price I can afford. You Boomers are going to wait a long time for the Millennials to buy your overpriced houses.

Jaimee McCleod
Guest
These points are so good. My boyfriend and I are millennials who are both looking to sell a home and buy a new one pending a career option. The points about wanting eco-friendly materials to be used and having good Wi-Fi coverage are so dead on. I think it’s true that, because of the economy, it can be hard to justify chasing a huge house at the expensive of a more affordable and cozy home. Though, there are millennials who are in search of larger homes just as much as their boomer parents, so you can often cover both bases… Read more »
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