Move Over, McMansions—Millennial Buyers Have New Homebuying Priorities

Aug 11, 2019

Here’s why next-generation buyers are swapping size for function, commutability and more.


For decades, young families had a seemingly simple approach to home buying—buy as much as you can possibly afford. The “McMansions” were the norm and Gen X buyers wanted IN. The average home inched closer and closer to the 3,000-square foot and families were willing to move WAY out of the city to maximize their home purchases.


That was then—but, increasingly, what worked for the last generation of new homebuyers isn’t in sync with the wants, needs and lifestyle demands of today’s millennial families.


“Size was definitely more of a factor than it is now,” says Suburban Jungle Head Chicago Strategist Heather Jagher. “Millennial buyers want to be more minimalistic and eco-friendly. They want their house to be very functional. They want the space they need and no more.” This, she notes, has changed the suburban search in a big way—not just the home search.


“Wanting smaller homes enables people to live closer to Chicago,” Heather adds, “and that’s important to these buyers. They value their time more. They want to be home. It’s no longer about the biggest house they can afford. They now want to be 25 minutes door to door.”



This isn’t just a trend in Chicago, either. From coast to coast, city families are making the move to the suburbs, with an eye on their lifestyle versus the size of their property.


“They want to be close—and they’ll give up the big lawn and big house for the commute,” adds Sarah Fraidin Roggie, Suburban Jungle Head Washington, DC Strategist. “It’s been a major shift in the way families search for the right community and the right home.”


“I agree priorities have shifted,” says Head of National Strategy & Emerging Markets Patti Natiss. “I cannot tell you how many people I work with who are so deeply focused on lifestyle. I’m seeing more and more people who want to be in Southern Westchester so they can have a shorter commute. Pelham, for example, is 29 minutes to the city, and I’m seeing more families head there than ever.”


The trend appears that millennials are not looking for large homes and yards to maintain, and additionally would rather take extra income that they would have allocated towards a larger asset and spend it on additional vacations or experiences.


“More and more, Chicago families won’t even consider an hour commute,” says Heather, “which is so common in other places. They won’t hear it. Now, though, they don’t have to compromise. If they’re open to buying what they need versus the biggest house on the market, they can have it.”


There are hundreds of towns to choose from. How do you figure it all out? You simply don’t, without getting a Suburban Jungle Strategist to help you through it all. Schedule here for your strategy session with our innovative suburbs strategy team. All services are completely free.


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