This is a plea to those still targeting the baby boomers to wake up and start thinking about the next generation, Generation Y.
In 2010, Gen-Y surpassed the boomer to become America´s largest generation, and their home ownership dreams are incredibly strong. So why are we in the real estate development industry still targeting the 50+ age group?
An online survey of America’s Generation Y members (18- to 32-year-olds finished high school) commissioned by the Urban Land Institute last summer indicates Gen-Y´s home ownership dreams are as strong as ever.
• 35 per cent of correspondents currently own their own homes.
• Within five years, two-thirds of all respondents except to own their own home.
• Among those who didn’t see themselves owning in five years, seven out of 10 still expect to own at some point in the future.
• And 82 per cent of those who see themselves owning by 2015, anticipate being in single-family homes.
These are some compelling numbers. It may be taking Gen-Y a heck of a lot longer to get out of the house – 30 seems to be the new 20 – but once they move out of their parents’ homes this generation is as eager as ever to establish themselves as homeowners on the property ladder. They´re optimistic and excited to buy a home, and more than one-third of them in the States, at least according to this survey, have already done it!
Clearly then, the ascendency of Generation Y affects the real estate development industry. And it may be time to challenge some long-standing assumptions.
Does the Gen-Y cohort really need the marble countertops and exotic hardwood flooring rather than the space to grow? Is a dramatic lobby that impresses guests upon arrival really as important as a clubhouse, where our Gen-Y group can host parties and invite friends and family around? Are their amenities nearby suitable for a young couple and a young family? Restaurants, gyms, schools, playgrounds?
This generation is realizing its home ownership dreams later in life, which means they are liable to remain in their first home as their family expands. The location and design of our buildings needs to reflect this. Unlike the downsizing baby boomers, most of Generation Y is at a stage in their life where they are likely to grow – an essential difference that has to be acknowledged when it comes to home building.
Bottom line: We need to start immersing ourselves in the needs and wants of Gen-Y. Let versatility be our watch word.