Can Developers Please Both Boomers and Millennials?

October 20, 2017

The preferences of baby boomers and millennials are reshaping multifamily homes in urban areas, but the two generations don’t always agree on what they want in a home, posing challenges for developers who are striving to meet both groups’ needs. Buyers from both generations are sparking greater demand for condos, as baby boomers downsize and millennials look to purchase a starter property.

Overall, both generations show a greater desire for smaller homes in culturally rich cities and suburbs, living near restaurants, shopping, services, entertainment, and public transportation. But on a more personal level, their tastes can vary widely. David Wolf, president of ON Collaborative, the marketing and sales firm for residential real estate brokerage NRT, says big data is key to uncovering individual differences. In a recent Huffington Post article, Wolf urges multifamily developers to turn to big data analytics to best meet these generations’ preferences.

“To date, multifamily developers have relied on snazzy Wi-Fi lounges, complimentary gourmet coffee bars, and lush community gardens to seduce both cohorts,” Wolf writes. “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.”

Baby boomers tend to favor traditional design features, such as fireplaces and moldings, a space for hobbies and leisure activities, home offices that can double as guest rooms, and proximity to parks. But millennials lead lifestyles more centered around activity. They also tend to value diversity and inclusiveness, Wolf notes, preferring sleek design features, greater affordability, access to major transportation hubs, and denser neighborhoods with “edgy offerings.” They often want to feel part of a community.

“They covet new experiences rather than material possessions,” Wolf writes. “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.” 

Baby boomers, on the other hand, are still showing a preference for exclusivity, Wolf notes. “They value refinement and sophistication, and traditional markers of this quality includes doormen, valet parking, concierges, and elegant private lounges.” Amenities that could “wow” this generation may include limo shuttles, driving ranges, spa-quality fitness centers with services and saunas, on-call chefs, and temperature-controlled wine rooms, Wolf says.

“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 says. “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.”

Source: “Millennials vs. Boomers: Tailoring Multifamily Homes to Today’s Twin Targets,” Huffington Post (Oct. 19, 2017)