By Gino Blefari
This week, I found myself in San Francisco for a media interview via skype with Ilyce Glink, host of Big Money Real Estate, a weekly show on the Whatever it Takes Network. Episodes focus on a variety of topics including: real estate, mortgage issues, real estate investing, personal finance and consumer advice. However, I was video chatting with Ilyce about the results from the Q1 Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Homeowner Sentiment Survey, which assessed people’s aspirations and sentiments surrounding homeownership.
So, my interview began and I was asked this question: When compared to other generations, how do millennials differ in their home buying preferences? How are they starting to resemble previous generations?
I was just about to reply with the distinguishing home-buying preferences of each generation when I had a thought: Maybe the differences we see separating Baby Boomers from Gen Xers from millennials are not as distinctive as they appear.
What do I mean? Well, our survey showed that disparate generations of home buyers approach the buying process differently. Millennials are “thinking in the now” and are more likely to prioritize “the ease of a purchase decision” when it comes to buying a home. By comparison, Boomers and Gen Xers embrace homeownership as a “smart, long-term investment.” Our study also found Millennials place a higher value on purchasing a home that they’ll be proud to show their friends and family, as well as living in a community with a great school district for their children.
On the surface, it seems like these characteristics clearly delineate Millennial preferences from those of older generations. But what concerns about homeownership did Boomers have when they were in their 20s and 30s? Didn’t they too care about owning a home that would make their parents and friends proud? Didn’t they also focus on the quality of the school district in a given community in order to ensure their young kids received a great education? Simply, yes.
Ah, so the differences we see in each generation may not be so different after all.
So, here’s the message: The same concerns, fears and preferences that we associate with today’s enigmatic millennial generation were also relevant for Boomers years ago. The normal rhythms of life happen regardless of how many iWatches are revealed or how many social media platforms emerge. People will always need a place to live. People will always want to start families. And those desires aren’t going away anytime soon. Because the more things change, the more they stay the same.