Millennials are powering the housing market. For the third year in a row, Generation Y (age 18 to 35) comprised the largest group of homebuyers, making up 35 percent of all buyers, according to a March report by the National Association of Realtors.
Partly for this reason, homebuilders are increasingly including the attributes that the millennial generation covets when designing new homes, according to a joint survey by the National Association of Home Builders and Better Homes and Gardens.
But what if you’re trying to sell your home—one that may have been around for decades? You may find that figuring out what millennials want can be pretty difficult. “They’re picky,” says Peggy Yee, a supervising broker at Frankly Realtors in Vienna, Va. “Millennials have specific needs, and if your home doesn’t meet them, they’re going to move on to the next house.”
If you’re considering putting your home on the market, you may want to think about doing some renovation work so that your home has greater appeal to younger homebuyers. That way, you may be able to sell your home more quickly and at the price that you want.
Create a Separate Laundry Room
According to the survey from the National Association of Homebuilders, a separate laundry room topped millennials’ wish lists. In fact, 55 percent of respondents said they wouldn’t buy a new home if the laundry wasn’t separate. Since this can be a deal breaker for younger homebuyers, consider converting a small existing room into a laundry room or even building one. Consumer Reports, found that manufacturers are making washer/dryer sets with a matching fit and finish that can integrate into living space—so you could consider having the laundry machines on the second floor. We like the Maytag Bravos MVWB855DWHE top-loader and Maytag Bravos MEDB855DW electric dryer, $1,050 each.
Buy New Kitchen Appliances
You don’t have to do a major kitchen remodel to sell your home for more—but if your refrigerator, oven, stove, and dishwasher are old, replace them. What should you buy? Consumer Reports rates the best appliances for your kitchen, but one novel idea is to look for new versions of black stainless steel that come from KitchenAid, LG, and Samsung.
Make Your Home Energy Efficient
If your home is energy efficient, you’ll likely sell your home for more. Millennials say they’re willing to pay up to 3 percent more if they think a home’s energy efficiency upgrades will help cut utility costs, according to the NAHB’s survey. But you don’t have to shell out thousands for solar paneling. You can do this inexpensively by adding or improving attic insulation, insulating ductwork, and plugging air leaks around doors and windows with weatherstripping and caulk.
Make Your Home Smart
More than two-thirds of millennials think “smart home” technology is a good investment, the NAHB survey found. But keep in mind that high-tech features can quickly become poor investments because technologies evolve quickly.
While the Nest Thermostat ($250), a heating and cooling control system is popular, Consumer Reports found that the Honeywell RTH9590WF, $300, proved easier to use. Both models can be controlled from a smartphone or computer. You could also consider buying an Amazon Echo ($180), a hands-free speaker system (with a Siri-like virtual assistant) that you can use to play music, make restaurant reservations, and get weather reports—all without having to get up from the couch. These two items, alone, will make your home seem “smart.”
Keyless entry is another attractive home feature for tech savvy millennials, says Yee; August Smart Lock ($200), for example, lets homeowners control door locks via a smartphone app.
Turn a Room Into a Home Office
More employers are allowing workers to telecommute—a shift that’s largely driven by millennials. According to a recent survey from Flexjobs, a job search site, about 85 percent of younger buyers say they want to work remotely full time. Create a home office that appeals to that desire and offers homeowners a nice tax break. It’s also relatively inexpensive to convert a room into an office; a basic desk, office chair, and door should do the trick.
Build a Low-Maintenance Deck
Many millennials don’t want to spend their weekends doing home repairs or maintaining a garden. But they do want to be outside. To sell your home more quickly, Consumer Reports recommends adding a deck or patio, with room for seating and a built-in or freestanding grill. Similarly, since landscaping requires upkeep forgo planting seasonal flowers in favor of perennials, which last for more than two years; peony plants, for example, can survive for decades with minimal care.