It’s a commonly touted statistic that millennials aren’t buying houses. While there’s a certain level of truth to that sentiment, it doesn’t tell the whole story.

Compared to their parents and grandparents at their age, fewer millennials are homeowners, but millions of younger people have invested in their own property – and they might not be the starter houses you’d expect.

Despite living with their parents longer than any generation before them, putting off marriage for an increased time span, and sometimes struggling to find their dream jobs, millennials are going from perennial renters to owners of what might be their forever homes.

So how is the idea of a starter home changing, and what are first-time homebuyers looking for in a house?  With a survey of over 1,000 people about their first homes, which features and amenities mattered most, and how market prices impacted homeownership. Keep reading to see what we learned.


Starting Off with a Bang


Pulling the trigger on your first home can be a nerve-wracking experience. Considering it’s the biggest purchase most people will make in their lifetimes, it’s OK to be a little worried about the home-buying process. Most experts say it’s important not to let emotion rule your decision on the quest for the perfect place.

Still, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go in without a few expectations. When asked about their ideal starter homes, millennials had higher expectations than older (and potentially more seasoned) homeowners.

Putting Down Roots

There’s an adage that nothing matters more when you’re buying a home than “location, location, location.” Even if you’re looking to buy on a budget, most experts advise buying the worst house in the best neighborhood over the best house in the worst neighborhood.

For both men and women, the affordability of an area was more important than the crime rates in that city or neighborhood. Amenities and features can play a major role in a home’s asking price, but the one factor you can’t change is the value of the suburb.

Proximity to the workplace was not as pressing a concern for most people. Less than half of both men and women said this factor was a top priority in deciding where to live. The least touted top factors when it came to proximity were purchasing a starter home close to places of worship (7.7 percent) or near an active nightlife (6.5 percent).

Laying Down the Cash

Mortgage lenders and financial experts agree that if you’re looking to buy a home, you should set your maximum mortgage payment at 28 percent of your total household income. While you can always go under budget, it’s important to remember that regular home upkeep has to be factored into your monthly expenses.

Ranking Household Amenities


Thinking Outside the Box

Our first home and dream home probably isn’t the same. While you might think about how much house you can afford as a first-time homebuyer, or how far away the neighborhood is from where you work, your dream home lets you fantasize about all the things you want without any of the pesky logistics.

Gen Xers and millennials dreamt about the biggest homes with the most bedrooms and bathrooms. With roughly 3,300 square feet, younger Americans wanted bigger homes than baby boomers polled. And while ranch-style homes were the most popular style for Gen Xers, millennials preferred the clean lines and minimalist layout of a modern abode instead.



No matter how excited you are to move, there’s a very real possibility that eventually you’ll outgrow or need to relocate from your starter home. The average person moves more than 11 times over their lifetime, and that means that as much as you love your current home, the odds are you won’t stay there forever.

As first-time homebuyers, you might expect them to stick around longer. Compared to baby boomers who stayed in their starter home for 13 years, Gen Xers only lived in their first house for 11 years, and millennials pulled up stakes after a 10.

Making Your House a Home

The housing market is changing, and what people are looking for in a starter home is changing right along with it. While previous generations might have looked for smaller, less expensive properties to start their journey as homeowners, millennials looking to transition from renters to buyers have a slightly different plan in mind.

Even if they aren’t planning on living in starter homes for very long, they still want bigger, more grandiose homes to call their own.


collected responses from 1,014 people using Amazon’s Mechanical Turk. 53.4 percent of participants were female, and 46.6 percent were male. Participants ranged in age from 18 to 82 with a mean of 36.5 and a standard deviation of 11. Participants included those who had purchased a home and those who were planning to purchase a home in the future.

Participants were excluded if they never planned on purchasing a home or were clearly not paying attention (e.g., failed attention-check question or entered obviously inconsistent data).  weighted the data to 2017 BLS data for age and gender of Americans. Statistical testing was not performed.

Data rely on respondent self-reporting. Self-reported data may present a variety of issues. These issues include, but are not limited to, exaggeration, selective memory, telescoping, and attribution. Not all states could be analyzed for this study. Only states with sample sizes of 26 respondents or more were used.

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Design trends flip and flop over time. For example, when bright colors are popular, you can expect darker, moodier colors to take over next. You can probably chalk it up to homeowners getting tired of designs they’re seeing everywhere and wanting something different. Whatever the reason, design trends are always in flux. To get a snapshot of what’s trending now, we asked several designers and home builders what their clients are requesting. Here are 10 design trends they think are on the rise.

1. Warmer Colors

Designer Phoebe Schuh of PS & Daughters says she’s noticing people moving away from grays and heading toward warmer colors. “Coral in all shades is becoming popular and ocher is also catching on as a fun ‘boho’ color,” she says.

Here, a sofa in a light coral shade delivers a little dose of warmth to the bohemian-style living room.

2. Wood Beams Everywhere

Designer Cynthia Soda of Soda Pop Design says she’s getting requests to add wood ceiling beams “anywhere our clients can have them.”

Soda incorporated several large beams in the Toronto kitchen seen here as a way to bring warmth to all the white. The beams also help accentuate the height of the room by drawing the eye upward, and they coordinate nicely with the brass accents found throughout the design.

3. Wall and Door Decals

Soda is also seeing “quirky design elements that speak to individuality,” she says. One example is wall or door decals that personalize a space, such as the stenciling on the frosted glass laundry room door seen here.

4. Arched Doorways

Sometimes it’s not the client asking for something but the designer lobbying for it. That’s the case for Soda when it comes to arched doorways. “I am personally shoehorning them into every design,” she says. “I can’t get enough.”

An arched opening offers an interesting architectural detail and gives a little more delineation to rooms while still maintaining openness.

5. Flat-Panel, High-Gloss Doors

At DesignLoft Cabinets, designer Kimmie Rokahr is seeing many more requests for modern-leaning flat-panel cabinets in a high-gloss finish, like those in this Dallas kitchen. The finish helps bounce light around while the flat-panel design keeps things sleek and can help make the cabinets visually recede if you want another design element to stand out.

6. A Customized Place for Everything

Paying extra attention to creating enough storage space in a kitchen for all the utensils, dishes and gadgets is nothing new. But designers like Rokahr are seeing homeowners more willing to go the extra mile during the planning phase to ensure everything has its custom-designed spot. Some designers take inventory of every dish and serving utensil to create the right-size cubby inside, say, a kitchen drawer.

The owners of this Buffalo, New York, kitchen took exactly that approach. They gave their cabinetmaker all their silverware so he could measure each piece and create a spot for everything.

7. Dark Cabinets With Brass Hardware

“Kitchens with contrast” is what designer Tecola Robinson of Tecola Camille Interiors likes to call the trend she’s seeing lately that pairs black or dark kitchen cabinets with warm brass or gold hardware. The combination delivers a high dose of drama and elegance, and creates contrast with the white tones found in popular backsplash and countertop materials.

8. Porcelain Slab Showers

Tile is a popular material for showers. It’s durable and offers lots of options to bring in color and texture. But the idea of maintaining all those grout lines turns a lot of homeowners off. Designer Brooke Brown of L&B Limited Co. is getting a lot of requests for using porcelain slabs instead. The approach minimizes grout lines while still offering durability and visual interest.

9. Maximalism

Designer Laura Fox of Laura Fox Interior Design is seeing a shift away from minimalism to maximalism. “People are rebelling from the recent minimalist trends and embracing the idea of actually having stuff,” the designer says. “We’re seeing more and more people looking for bold colors and patterns and, more importantly, ways to show off their stuff.”

10. Black, White Oak and Stacked Brick Tile

When you see several design elements trending, why not combine them all? That’s what designers Morgan and Jamie Molitor of construction2style did in the Minneapolis bathroom shown here. They were noticing lots of black, white oak and stacked brick tile coming up again and again, so they decided to bring them all together in one design.

Black rectangular marble tile in a stacked pattern and black porcelain hexagonal floor tile feature in this all-black shower. The custom floating oak vanity adds a sliver of warmth and texture to the otherwise cold surfaces.

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HGTV’s House Hunters was one of TV’s first real estate-focused reality shows—and, 20 years later, it’s still going strong.

Over the past two decades, House Hunters (which showcases real buyers as they tour different properties in search of their dream home) has lifted back the curtain of the homebuying process, giving viewers invaluable lessons into how to successfully find and buy the right home.

recent article on outlined some of House Hunter’s top lessons for buyers, including:

  1. Choose three criteria for your wish list. In a perfect world, your home would have everything on your wish list. But the chances of finding everything on your wish list is slim to none—so narrowing down your list to three key criteria (like four bedrooms, updated kitchen, and at or under-budget) will help you focus on what’s really important.
  2. Be realistic about your budget. If you don’t understand the market—and what your budget will get you in said market—you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. Research the area where you want to buy (and what your money will get you) so you can be realistic about your budget.
  3. Don’t get caught up in the staging. So many homebuyers get turned off by aesthetic details (like paint colors or odd furniture layouts) that can be easily changed. Make sure you’re looking past the staging and aesthetic issues and are seeing the full potential of the home.

Bottom line? Reality shows might not have a reputation as being educational—but if you’re buying a home, there are definitely lessons to be learned from the past 20 years of House Hunters episodes.

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It’s Sunday morning.

You’re scheduled to go out and see houses later on with your real estate agent. But it’s nasty outside. It’s beyond pouring. You can’t even imagine walking from the car into a house. You’d rather just cancel the appointment and hang inside, maybe watch some TV.

You can always go see the house next weekend.

But should you wait for next weekend?

Should you even wait to go see houses only during the weekend?

There’s five weekdays you can go see houses. Is there a better day than a Sunday?

What if someone else scoops up the house before you end up getting out to see it? Right?!

Sure. Totally a possibility. And, totally a reason to motivate and go see that house today in the rain.

But that’s not the point of this article. The point is that the best day to see a house is not necessarily Sunday. It’s also not necessarily not Sunday.

The best day to go see a house is when it’s raining. Even better if it’s raining heavily. And it’s best if it’s been raining for a few days straight.

Picture this…

It’s the future. You skipped going to see the house in the rain, but you ended up buying it eventually. Of course you had a home inspection done on the house during the process. But that was a sunny day, and it hadn’t rained in some time.

Then, after you’ve lived in the house for a while, you start to notice a drip in the ceiling. Or some dampness in the basement. Or worse, actual water on the basement floor.

You’d probably be pretty upset. You’d feel like the owner should’ve disclosed it. You feel like there’s no way they didn’t know that this was a problem. And you’d probably be right. But good luck proving it.

Then you think one of the real estate agents should have either noticed the issue, or knew about it and hid it. But, there’s a good chance that the agents truly didn’t have knowledge of it. And frankly, unless the real estate agents are told about an issue, they aren’t qualified to assess issues that a qualified home inspector should pick up on.

Ahhhh…the home inspector. The home inspector should pick up on it! That’s who to blame and go after.

Most likely they would pick up on water related issues. There is usually some sort of evidence they can see.

But sometimes these types of problems aren’t all that obvious. Especially if the inspector is looking through the house after it has been dry weather for some time.

It’s easy to try and place fault, blame, and consequences on others when something goes wrong.

The true enemy, though, is water.

So much damage can be done to a house due to water…

  •     From the roof.
  •     To the gutters.
  •     To the windows.
  •     The basement.
  •     And even the landscaping and driveway can be affected by water related issues.

It’s best to take advantage of the moments in the buying process where you can face your potential enemy head on…on a rainy day.

You can save yourself a lot of time, money, and aggravation by seeing a house in the rain. If there are problems, they should show up on a day like that. That doesn’t mean there won’t be in the future of course.

That also doesn’t mean you shouldn’t buy the house of your dreams if there are some water related problems. But at least go forward knowing what you’re dealing with, and ideally getting the owner to own up to and fix any issues before you close on the house. Because once you close on the house, those problems are your problems.

So, if you wake up and see rain on a day that you’re scheduled to go see a house, don’t cancel. Go.

Obviously you can’t guarantee it will rain every time you go see houses, or on the day you do a home inspection. It would be impossible to find and purchase a house if you only looked and inspected homes on rainy days. So don’t get too hung up on it.

But if the opportunity arises, certainly don’t overlook the benefits of getting out to see houses in the rain.

A rainy day can be the best day to go see a house.

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When someone uses the term “millennials,” most people don’t immediately think of financial stability or homeownership. But according to a new study, more millennials than ever are ready, willing, and able to purchase property in today’s market.

A recent study from Urban Institute, which analyzed data from the 31 largest metropolitan statistical areas, found that 19 million millennials across the US are “mortgage ready,” which is defined as being no older than 40, not already having a mortgage, and having ample credit to qualify for a traditional loan (which includes a credit score of 620 or above and no recent credit issues, like bankruptcy or major delinquencies).

Why haven’t these millennials made a move? The report cites misconceptions about down payments as a major contributing factor for mortgage-ready millennials not making the jump into homeownership. (According to a survey released by Laurel Road earlier this year, 46% of Americans were unfamiliar with alternative lending options, and many millennials aren’t aware they can leverage these alternative lending options to purchase a home with as little as 3% down.)

The Takeaway

If you’re a mortgage-ready millennial but haven’t made a move because you’ve been struggling to save a large down payment, it’s time to start exploring alternative lending options. In today’s market, you don’t need 20% for a down payment—you might already have everything you need to purchase a home.

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Will Hickey - Team Manager/ Realtor/ Broker
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