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Heads Up Sellers: Millennials Want to Fall in Love with a Home

By Karen Highland | April 22, 2019

Are you planning on selling your home in the near future? The first thing a prospective home seller usually starts thinking about is getting their home ready to sell. What kinds of updates should you consider? What improvements should you make, if any? Should you stage your home?

"Falling in love is such an easy thing to do...." ?

These are all important questions to ask as you make decisions about your home’s condition. Getting top dollar for your home requires that the home really shines when buyers compare it to other homes in your market.

The first step in preparing your home for the market is to think like a buyer, not a homeowner. Have you thought of the wants and inclinations of your most likely buyers? Who are your most likely buyers?

Millennial Buyers Dominate Most Real Estate Markets

Did you know the largest group of homebuyers today are Millennials? Last year Millennials made up 36% of home buyers, according to National Association of Realtors® (NAR). If you’re selling your home in 2018 or 2019, there’s a good chance that a Millennial will buy it. Although there has been no shortage of articles investigating the buying trends of this generation, let’s join in and talk about what Millennials are looking for in the real estate market.

Millennials are the generation born between the years 1980 and 2000. They have demonstrated certain characteristics due to the times in which they grew up....namely, the “Great Recession”. Some of these traits are distinctly different than other generations, like their financial outlook. But, surprisingly, many traits are just the same as the rest of us. Check out these trends as reported by NAR:

  • This generation has delayed homeownership because of student debt and underemployment. However, when they do step up to the real estate market, they tend to bypass the traditional “starter home” and opt for a larger “forever home”.  
  • Although they have gravitated towards urban areas when renting, the majority (74%) opt for a single-family home in the suburbs for their home purchase.
  • Millennials as a demographic value relationships and look for homes with entertaining spaces, including outdoor spaces. Outdoor rooms have value, just like the interior of a home.
  • This generation of home buyers values smart home technology, as they obviously have grown up with more technology at their fingertips than any other generation.
  • Like all of us, storage is an important part of a home to this demographic.
  • As far as home styles, this generation of buyers falls into two diverse camps: If they choose a period home, they want everything to be authentic. If not an older home, then they want everything to be modern. Simple as that.
  • Millennials consider function over size...or “how a home lives”. ←-  THIS is key!

Our real estate team has been working with Millennials for several years. We agree with NAR on Millennial buying trends. We even have another trend to add to the mix…

Millennials Want to Fall in Love

We’ve seen it time and time again over the last few years, these young buyers want to be swept off their feet by “how the home lives”. Even if they start their home buyer journey with facts and figures, lists of features and lifestyle preferences, their final decision is usually the house that makes their hearts skip a beat.

When Millennial buyers are considering a home, at the top of their minds is how the spaces fit into their “ideal life” they want their lives to be in their new home. So home sellers, how can you capitalize on these home buying characteristics of your most likely buyers? We’ve got some staging ideas that will make your home more appealing, regardless of your home’s style or features.

Think like a Buyer

While staging certainly fits into the real estate marketing plan, remember that home staging itself does not sell a home. What good staging does is make the home more appealing to the highest number of potential buyers. Staged homes sell quicker, according to numerous studies. And the good news is, you can do a lot yourself, if you pay attention to what buyers are looking for.

So how can you make your home more appealing? Instead of thinking about specific items, features or home styles, instead, think about how your home lives. Think about how you can present your home’s spaces in a way that appeals to a home buyer’s lifestyle ideals. Here are our five top tips to accomplish this goal throughout your house:

Living Rooms for Living

Most buyers are looking for space. Space for their stuff, and space to entertain. A living space, no matter what size or configuration, can be a place to entertain. Most of the time, we find that homeowners need to edit their furniture and decor to give a sense of more space in their living rooms, rather than add more stuff...let’s face it, most of us have more stuff than we really need.

When you’re arranging your furniture and decor in your living room, family room or great room, keep your furniture to scale. Remember the “rule of three”. Three pieces of furniture are usually enough. The coffee table grounds a conversation space. Group any knickknacks in odd number groupings...three, five or seven. (The same rule works in your landscaping!)

Speaking of landscaping, be sure to bring in some plants to bring the outdoors in and add organic life to the space. And don’t fake it with silk! That was a 90’s trend that will scream “this home is so outdated!”

Bedrooms with a Comfortable Vibe

Comfort is the buzzword for bedrooms. It’s not difficult to stage a bedroom for comfort. Like the living spaces, you’ll want to edit out a lot of your stuff. While you’re packing to move, you might as well pack up some personal things. Pack up half of your clothes and your closets will magically appear to have so much space!

Buy an “all-in-one” comforter set to unify the decor. Update your window treatments. If you need to add visual space to a room, mirrors work wonders.

One of the easiest things to do in the bedroom, as well as throughout your house, is to light it up. Update your lighting if needed. Get the brightest bulbs your fixtures will handle, and make sure the windows are clean. When showing your home, open the window treatments and let the light in.

But your home will need to be clean, because guess what all that light will show? That’s right, the dirt!  

Adding Zen to Bathrooms

With our busy and hectic lives today, we all appreciate a bathroom that has some Spa appeal. No matter what your bathrooms are like, you can easily add spa-like touches. Think of the things you find in a hotel bathroom: soft neutral tones, plush towels, a basket of fancy soaps and lotions, candles, and beautiful containers and dispensers.

Now think about what you don’t don’t find clutter. The bathroom, above all, needs to be clean, clean, clean. When staging your bathroom, be sure to corral your personal things and stow them in a cabinet. The lack of all your personal things will allow buyers to imagine themselves in the space.

The Kitchen is the Heart of the Home

“Kitchens sell homes.” REALTORS say that a lot! That’s because it’s true. The kitchen is the most expensive room in the home. One could say it’s the most important room in the house to stage.

If your kitchen is dated, you’ll need to consider updating. But it doesn’t have to cost a fortune. For most homes, modest updates give a better return on investment than a major kitchen renovation.

If updates aren’t in the budget, you can still stage your kitchen to highlight the best features. First, the kitchen needs to be sparkling clean. That includes cooking odors! Finishes need to shine. Remove the clutter...including the coffee maker and other appliances. You’ll create more counter space for a buyer to imagine their own stuff.

It’s amazing how much the work of cleaning and declutter will do for your kitchen...and it’s free! With the countertops completely bare, you can create a vignette that suggests your kitchen is a great place to cook. Use a stand with a colorful open cookbook. Place a large bowl of bright-colored fruit in the center of the table or the island. Place a cluster of gourmet olive oils on a beautiful tray.

Next, arrange table and chairs to enhance your space. Scale is important in the kitchen. Smaller tables make the eat-in area more spacious. Again, let the light in to visually add space.

Curb Appeal that Wins Hearts

Did you know that a buyer knows if they like a home within the first 30 seconds? NAR studies of home buyers have consistently found that curb appeal matters. Luckily, all the rules for staging the home inside are applicable for staging the outside.

Declutter, clean, paint and highlight the best features. It’s really that simple. And it usually just takes a little elbow grease.

Clean up the weeds and trim back the overgrowth. Powerwash any stains and grime. Paint the door and trim a fresh, welcoming color. Fill in bare spots with colorful, easy care flowers. Use pots if you don’t have space or good soil. Finally, add a fresh covering of mulch to tidy it up. And don't forget the rule of threes!

Making Your Home More Appealing

By thinking like a buyer, we’re confident that home sellers can make their homes more appealing to today’s Millennial buyers. Check out this ultimate tutorial on home staging, both inside and outside, for the best tips to make your home more appealing to today’s Millennial home buyers.

But really, the Millennial desire for comfort, entertaining space, and Zen are not so different than the lifestyle desires of other generations, are they? We all want to fall in love. We all want to know...will I love this house every month when I write that mortgage check!?

Karen and Chris Highland are residential real estate agents in Frederick County Maryland, with over 26 years of experience. Chris is the Maryland State Broker for eXp Realty. Karen is a prolific real estate blogger and social media fan. Chris and Karen actively share and collaborate with Realtors® across the country in many online communities and groups. They invite you to connect on twitter, Facebook, and Chris & Karen on LinkedIn.

Karen and Chris Highland are residential real estate agents in Frederick County Maryland, with over 26 years of experience. Chris is the Maryland State Broker for their brokerage, eXp Realty. Karen is a prolific real estate blogger and social media buff. Chris and Karen actively share and collaborate with Realtors® across the country in many online communities and groups. They invite you to connect on twitter, Facebook, and Chris & Karen on LinkedIn.
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