Developers are struggling to keep up with the different needs of baby boomers and millennials – two generations that are currently reshaping the multifamily home market in urban areas. A report in the Huffington Post reveals that buyers from both generations are increasing demand for condos in particular, with baby boomers downsizing while millennials look for starter properties.
The two demographics share some preferences. For one thing, both have a desire for smaller homes in culturally rich cities and suburbs, and both would like to live near amenities such as restaurants, shopping, services, entertainment and transportation. However, on a more personal level the two groups also have quite different tastes when it comes to these things and the style of home they want.
David Wolf, president of ON Collaborative, the marketing and sales firm for residential real estate brokerage NRT, said data is the key to uncovering what these different preferences are, and begged developers to start paying attention so they can meet people’s needs.
“To date, multifamily developers have relied on snazzy Wi-Fi lounges, complimentary gourmet coffee bars, and lush community gardens to seduce both cohorts,” Wolf wrote. “It’s time to wake up. These features have gone from exceptional to conventional in the last five years. Instead, beefed-up basics and attention-grabbing extras now reign supreme.”
Wolf argues that baby boomers prefer traditional design features such as fireplaces and moldings, with spaces for hobbies and leisure activities. They also want home offices that can be used as an extra bedroom, and close proximity to public parks. But with millennials it’s different, as their lifestyles are more centered around activity, Wolf said. They want diversity and inclusiveness, with sleek design features, more affordability, access to transportation hubs and neighborhoods with more “edgy offerings.”
“They covet new experiences rather than material possessions,” Wolf said. “So the more adventurous and unique an amenity, the better. Think game arcades, indoor rock climbing walls, programming that ranges from out-of-the-box fitness classes to inspired happy hours, shared car services, fully enclosed work stations in common areas, and fully-equipped music rooms.”
In contrast, baby boomers show more of a preference for exclusivity, Wolf said.
“They value refinement and sophistication, and traditional markers of this quality includes doormen, valet parking, concierges, and elegant private lounges,” Wolf stated. He added that the best amenities for this generation would include things like limo shuttles, driving ranges, spa-quality fitness centers, on-call chefs and temperature-controlled wine rooms.
“Despite the two cohorts’ very different reasons for buying, units that will ‘wear well’ and can be adapted to future tastes are essential, and achievable with analytics that gauge each development’s target market, geographic requirements, and mitigating trends,” Wolf said. “And while pleasing both cohorts in the same project can be a balancing act worthy of the Cirque du Soleil, it too is possible with an analytics-driven approach … to consistently strike the right balance between the inclusive, informal community spaces that millennials prefer and the more exclusive and refined facilities and services that resonate with boomers.”