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Why Millennials are NOT Killing the Housing Industry


Millennials. If the media is to be believed, they’re the most prolific serial killers of the modern era. There are, after all, countless articles on millennials ‘killing’ industries every other day. As it happens, the reality is that millennials (also known as Generation Y) aren’t killing anything, they just have unique values that guide their purchasing behaviour — especially for investments that affect their lifestyle. For example, in recent years, millennials have become the largest demographic of house-hunters. And while this has kept the housing market happy, it has had to evolve a great deal to meet this generations needs. But to understand why this is, we need to look at what this age-group is looking for in life — and of course what they’re searching for in a home.

The Millennial Mindset

In order to understand what’s important to millennial home-buyers, you need to understand the values that guide their lifestyle. This generation has grown up in a turbulent political and economic environment and has witnessed rapid tech advancements in the last few decades. As a result, the vast majority of Generation Y can be defined by the social characteristics that guide their purchasing behaviour.

  • Economic strain — most millennials are struggling under a mountain of financial burden, specifically student loans. These financial obligations are critical when it comes to investment decisions, especially big ones. It can make the difference between owning and renting a home
  • Time deficit — unlike previous generations, the millennial workforce is constantly on the move, and as such doesn’t have the time to invest in commuting, extended social engagements or any other time-consuming activity. They mostly value the here and now over the far-reaching future
  • Flexibility — gen Y values flexibility more than their parents. They believe in a work-life continuum, which can be seen in the steady rise of freelance and work-from-home positions. This group also wants to be able to question the rules and have the freedom to look for better alternatives whenever possible
  • Individuality — millennials have a strong sense of self, and will prioritise their needs or image over that of their community. While family and friends are still important to them, they are unlikely compromise on their lifestyle preferences just to earn the name of the Good Samaritan
  • Environmentally-conscious — as millennials face a growing threat in climate change and other issues, they are gradually gravitating towards sustainable living and eco-friendly options
  • Value-focused — millennials tend to align with organisations and brands that have a similar sociopolitical outlook as themselves. Their loyalty isn’t so much to the brand as the values it represents
  • Tech-savvy — millennials have seen a faster growth in the technological sphere than any generation before them. This in turn has made them adept at handling technology in nearly all aspects of their lives

The Indian Millennial

While studying millennials and their choices, it’s important to understand that not all of them are guided by the same values; they tend differ across social and geographic lines. This is best illustrated by real estate investment behaviour. For example, Indian millennials clearly differ from their western counterparts when it comes to assessing different criteria:

  • Tradition — despite their increased exposure to western ideals, Indian millennials have a paradoxical relationship with modernity. They embrace progress and liberal thought without losing sight of their roots. The Indian millennial home buyer will likely consider state-of-the-art amenities and vastu with equal weight while looking for a home
  • Parental Guidance — while Indian millennials look for independence, they often seek the advice and approval of their parents — especially if they’re striking it out on their own. In some cases, parents may even be a constant fixture in the millenial home; so the Indian real estate industry really needs to cater to both millenials and their parents
  • Land Ownership — on a global scale, millennials are likely to prefer renting a home to buying one. However in India owning land or property is still viewed as a sign of social status. So although western millennials may choose rent their entire lives, Indians would likely prefer to own a home

The Millennial Home

When it comes to buying a home, millennials look for spaces that match up to their lifestyles and values. Because these often differ from their predecessors, their choices in home investments are naturally different as well. For example millennials are most likely to:

  • Look for new, pre-furnished homes. New homes mean less money spent on renovation in the short-term, and maintenance in the long run. Pre-furnished houses are also an option when trying to save on expenses
  • Value convenience over space. Frugality and convenience tend to be the guiding forces when millennials look for homes. The aim is to find a place that can cater to their lifestyle (close to work, friends, and recreational spaces) within a given budget — and many are willing to sacrifice square footage to do so
  • Use space creatively. What they lack in area, gen-Yers can easily make up in ingenuity. They are likely to look for innovative, multifunctional solutions to find a way to make the most of their space
  • Choose community over locale. Homeownership and locale aren’t as much of a status symbol among a generation of creative industrials and start-up moghuls. Millennials, in fact, tend to shy away from big name localities if these places don’t reflect their own values

This generation also realises that a home is more than just four walls and a roof. The sense of identity and strong personal values that guide them during their house hunting also impact how they use their space. When it comes to utility and decor, here’s what’s #trending with Generation Y:

  • Laundry spaces — gone are the days of bucket and dhobi. Most millenials want a place that can squeeze in at least a washer, if not a washer-drier for all their laundry needs
  • Unconventional storage — when space is a precious commodity, there’s no place for bulky almirahs and obtrusive cupboards. Millennials are instead turning to hooks, vertical storage and invisible shelves for chic, sleek and most importantly,, space-saving storage options
  • Bold colors — while older generations favoured calming pastels and delicate off-whites, millennials prefer rich dark shades or vibrant colors on their walls and upholstery
  • Mindful spaces — to combat their hectic lifestyles, most millenials are turning at least a part of their home into a personal retreat space
  • Smart appliances — convenience is the name of the game for millenials, and this tech-savvy generation has found the perfect way to use smart technology to make their day-to-day lives just a little easier
  • Upcycle, handmade, and DIY — in order to create a space that’s sustainable, personal, and wallet-friendly, millenials are getting crafty, choosing to make their own decor out of recycled or eco-friendly material

While the way this generation invests in homes greatly differs from their parents and grandparents, millennials are far from killing the real estate industry. Whether it’s the Indian millennial looking for a home in close proximity to both work and family, or a western millennial searching for a garden-friendly neighbourhood, the industry is ably keeping up with the times — continuously evolving to meet their discerning needs.