Dream Homes Vary by Generation

When you were born says a lot about your idea of the perfect home. Here is a review of the features that appeal most to the baby boomer generation, Gen X and Gen Y, plus tips on how to sell to homebuyers in each generation.

When you envision your dream home, what does it look like? A trendy looking house in downtown Oakville? A condo in downtown Toronto? Or do you envision having two homes? One someplace warm in the winter and somewhere up north for the summer? Your answer says a lot about your values and attitudes—and may have a lot to do with when you were born. The different responses, from baby boomers to first time generation-Y buyers, reflect how different features appeal to different ages and also how tastes have shifted over time.

Boomer dream homes: the picture of success—baby boomers, those born between 1946-1964, rank a state-of-the-art kitchen No. 1 on their list of must-haves, with walk-in closets, whirlpool baths, fireplaces and swimming pools all in the top five. As baby boomers become empty nesters, they think more about downsizing and having a home they can age into gracefully.

Generation X: family-focused informality—those born between 1965-1978 also place a high priority on a fine kitchen and on amenities like large walk-in closets. As their children of the baby boomers age, their aspirations for their dream home are different from their parents. They are much more in tune with style and design, and know exactly what they want in a home.

Generation Y: let the good times role—generation Y-ers, those born after 1978-1995, want a home that has all the bells and whistles to keep them entertained. There priorities include a whirlpool, outdoor pool, sauna/steam room and entertainment center. This explains why they’re not quite yet worried about accommodating children. This generation is extremely social, and wants the amenities that enhance that part of their lives. Technology is also a big part to this generation. They are completely wired. So a Gen-Y home, more than any other, will be full of electronics.

Here is a table showing the top dream-home amenities by generation:

Rank

Generation Y

(Born1978-1995)

Rank

Generation X

(Born1965-1977)

Rank

Baby boomers

(Born1946-1964)

1

Whirlpool bath

1

State-of-the-art kitchen

1

State-of-the-art kitchen

2

Swimming pool

2

Large walk-in closets

2

Large walk-in closets

3

Game/billiard room

2

Fireplace

3

Whirlpool bath

3

Large walk-in closets

4

Whirlpool bath

4

Fireplace

5

Fireplace

5

Swimming pool

5

Swimming pool

6

State-of-the-art kitchen

6

Patios, porches and decks

6

Workshop/hobby studio

7

Sauna/steam room

7

Game/billiard room

7

Patios, porches and decks

7

Gym/fitness room

8

Garden

7

Garden

9

High-tech entertainment center

9

Gym/fitness room

9

Game/billiard room

10

Patios, porches and decks

10

Workshop/hobby studio

9

High-tech entertainment center

Common ground—How immutable are these traits? People’s attitudes change about their home change as they enter different stages of their lives. For example, Gen X-ers want high-end kitchens now that they’re nesting; this is similar to the wants of their baby-boomer parents. An interesting thing that homeowners who are renovating and preparing to downsize are noticing is that the features baby boomers and their children focus on in a new home are similar. For example, walk-in closets are usually in the top three of their wants. State-of-the-art kitchens are ranked number one for baby boomers and Gen X-ers. Other common features that all three generations share is: whirlpool baths, swimming pools, and fireplaces.

Target buyers—its important not to make dramatic changes to your home just because you hope it will attract buyers and sell quicker. The most important thing is to have a nice and clean property in an in-demand area. In some situations you might consider targeting your home based on the renovations you’ve made if you live in a retirement community or in an area that is being populated by young professionals and families.

In order to gauge the type of buyer your house is likely to attract it is important to pay attention to your surroundings. Generation Y buyers are normally looking for houses close to the social scene and public transit, like places such as Toronto or else on the fringes where new homes are cheapest.

Luring Gen Y:

  • Don’t fear colour. The age-old rule is to not use any bright or bold colours in your home if you’re about to sell it. Generation Y-ers often don’t mind seeing colour on the walls of their potential home because that means they don’t necessarily have to paint if it’s a bright or bold colour they can live with.
  • Get unconventional. This generation likes unconventional floor plans, informality and flexibility in a layout. Anything a homeowner can or is willing to do to emphasize that—adding furniture that moves around, finding an alternative way for formal dinning adds appeal to a home.
  • Get wired. Generation Y is plugged into the Web and social media all the time. This means your home should be too, even if it’s an older home.
  • Add an office. Transform someplace in your home into an office—even if its just a few shelves and a desktop.

Grabbing the Gen-X buyer:

  • Think kitchen. Because the kitchen is the focal point of the Gen-X home, you spend your money remodeling there before the bedrooms. One way to freshen up a kitchen without spending thousands of dollars is to refinish the cabinets. Popular treatments are glazing, crackling, and sand-through finishing that gives furniture a worn appearance. It’s a minimal cost but gives your home an updated look.
  • Colour: Gen X-ers like a lot of colour, a little bit of bling, and a bit of pizzazz. This doesn’t mean you should paint your bedroom purple, but add intriguing touches that will make a room memorable to young potential buyers.
  • Hide your own mementos, such as personal photos. The biggest mistake that people can make, is not taking down personal family pictures. Potential buyers will have a hard time seeing themselves in the home if they see the current homeowners mementos.
  • Peel your walls. Even just taking down the wallpaper that has been there for 10 years and replacing it with something more in style will help. Wallpaper is like fashion it changes.

Hooking the boomer buyer:

  • Think about art. Since boomers often have fine items and this generation is often big on display, ask yourself where and how you can create a space—perhaps in the living room or entrance—where a future homeowner could show a piece of artwork.
  • Update with care. Boomers do love grand kitchens and bathrooms. But it’s tricky—how are you going to pick the right tile? So proceed with caution if you must update those areas in anticipation of selling your home. Make somewhat neutral choices among luxury items—for example, white Carrera marble in the bathroom.
  • Consider universal access. As you renovate your bathroom, add touches that baby boomers will notice and need when they look at the house later—grab bars in the shower or bathtub, raised toilet seat, a step-in shower rather than bathtub. Other ideas may include lever door handles (easier for arthritic hands to handle than knobs) and pullout shelves in places like the pantry (easier for bad backs to reach).

Thank you for reading!

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________________________________________________________________________________________

Hans Taal  Hans Taal

  Passionate About Real Estate. Devoted to My Clients.

  Sales Representative
  CENTURY 21 MILLER REAL ESTATE LTD.*
  467 Speers Road
  Ontario, L6K 3S4
  Direct Line: 905.339.5270  E-Mail: hans.taal@century21.

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Hans Taal

Hans Taal

Sales Representative
CENTURY 21 Miller Real Estate Ltd., Brokerage*
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