It’s no secret that the greatest measure of success in the real estate industry is high occupancy rates. Yet architects, builders and developers who ignore Millennial lifestyle trends and working preferences in the housing they construct and the model home interiors they use to showcase their units, will have a hard time attaining this goal today—and more so in the future.
It’s a numbers game. Census Bureau stats show Millennials, now the largest generation in the U.S., significantly outnumber Baby Boomers (at over 83 million to 75.4 million). They’re also the largest generation in the U.S. labor force, accounting for over 53.5 million workers, notes The Pew Research Center.
Clearly, this is the generation that will be renting or buying homes, or occupying most of our nation’s offices, for decades to come. But they are a bit late to the housing game, thanks to school debt and the Great Recession, notes The White House Council of Economic Advisers.
This is changing, and quickly. They are finally leaving their parental nests, primarily to rent, says Bloomberg. Yet they are also buying: for the third straight year in a row, Millennials have made up the largest share of U.S. homebuyers, notes the 2016 National Association of Realtors trends study.
Millennial lifestyle trends come first
To succeed, housing providers needs to keep Millennial lifestyle trends front and center, especially in the model home interiors they use to showcase their offerings. As a diverse, educated and digital generation, Millennials are entirely different than their predecessors.
Anyone who has borne witness to the rise of the sharing economy they helped spawn knows this all too well. Why buy a surfboard, boom box, mini-van or new dress when you can rent them by the day for $7, $5, $30 and $4 respectively, points out PWC. For Millennials, life is about experience over ownership.
The same concept applies to the way they live and work—related concepts since Millennials often work remotely as independent contractors, notes Elite Daily. And they value community, family, flexibility and creativity, says The Council of Economic Advisors report.
In our work with doing lobbies, amenities and model home interiors for architects, developers and builders, we’ve found Millennials value settings that mirror the environments where they were raised. Their need for Wi-Fi, charging stations and flexible space that allows them movement, interaction and comfort goes without saying. But to really engage and convert them to residents, it is also critical for architects, builders and developers to play to Millennial lifestyle trends with precision and personality. The housing they create must embrace features that allow Millennials the flexibility to work or play, depending on the time of day or their needs at hand.
What this means for architects, builders and developers
This means shared public spaces that foster community rather than just interaction, and are packed with amenities. Must-haves include full-service fitness centers, smart—and smartly appointed—multi-purpose lounges, refreshment zones with gratis eats and tech hubs with state-of-the-art equipment.
Model home interiors for rental units, condos, townhouses or single-family homes must be equally multi-purpose, yet again—smart and smartly appointed. Millennials need shrewdly designed spaces that offer the kind of 24/7 flexibility that matches their lifestyles; fosters their proclivities to work-at-home, gather and multi-task and accommodates their need for comfort, large-scale technology and high-style décor.
How to create these environments?
From our work creating public, utility and amenity spaces in buildings and developments, be it lobbies or laundry rooms, we’ve learned it means bringing the back of the house into the front of the house and imbuing these spaces with mutability, style and comfort. From the many model home interiors we design, we know it takes a deft blend of features and furnishings that speak to Millennials’ immediate needs, and change. This generation is ready to face their future, have families and they want to make every inch count.
Mary Cook is the founder and principal of Mary Cook Associates (MCA), a full-service commercial interior design firm that creates innovative environments for the homebuilding and hospitality industries nationwide.