More Millennials Looking for Single Family Homes

Not only are Millennials now the largest group of home buyers, they are showing a preference for single family homes.

In fact, a strong preference.

According to a new study by Redfin, over 90% of millennial home buyers would prefer a single-family home to an equally-priced unit in a triplex – even when the triplex comes with a shorter commute to work.

“Even as we’ve seen a revival in many urban neighborhoods, the American ideal of a detached home with a white picket fence and a private lawn doesn’t appear to be changing—at least for the time being,” says Redfin Chief Economist, Daryl Fairweather.

The survey, taken last August, asked more than 1,400 home-searching U.S. residents to choose a home based on this hypothetical situation: “You find a single-family home with a backyard for the same price as a unit in a triplex (a building with three attached homes). The triplex is smaller, but meets your space needs, and has a shared backyard and significantly shorter commute. Assume the school quality and safety ratings are identical.”

Out of the entire group, 89% went with the single-family home. And of the millennials? Ninety-three percent.

State to state, region to region, the results were largely unchanged. Most people – and especially the nation’s newest and biggest cohort – would opt for space and privacy over convenience and proximity.

But what is this really telling us?

Well, of course the finding is interesting. For one, it seems to fly in the face of the somewhat common belief in mass movement towards urban centers – as well as the deeply human loathing for traffic and long commutes.

Would people really sacrifice the convenience and livelihood of buzzing metropolitan areas?

And would they choose to significantly increase their windshield time for the upsides of a larger space?

Apparently, yes, they would.

But good science, in this case, would demand a slightly closer look at the question asked of the participants. There are a few bits of language that could start one’s mind wandering into wholly unrealistic territory.

For example, the single family home is said to come with a backyard. If you were to close your eyes and picture a backyard, what are the chances you would see a sprawling field of greenery?

The same goes for the overall size of the two homes. The triplex is said to be smaller, while meeting space needs. How much smaller – and how much bigger – is left up for interpretation. There is at least some chance the participant is left comparing something resembling an estate to a tightly packed triplex in the city.

But even with all this in mind, we can speculate on what millennials would actually prefer when faced with a more true-to-life decision. Conservatively, and as complete speculation, the percentage could still be as high as 70-80%.

And this says a lot about the home-buyer philosophy. At our core, perhaps a majority of us still want the freedom and peace of mind in more space to live and grow. And perhaps a short commute could never beat the feeling of a nice backyard to raise a family in.

It’s surprising, and yet unsurprising, that despite so much transformation in the world, we still want what we always have – a place to call our own.

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