Millennials are a dangerous crowd. They’ve been implicated in the attempted murder of many products and industries, from breakfast cereal and hotel loyalty programs to department stores and the car industry. They are buying less homes, choosing instead to rent. Homeownership is at its lowest rate in 50 years, thanks largely to the fact that only 34% of Americans under 35 own a home. Thanks a lot, millennials!
Here’s another thing millennials are killing: stuff. If you aren’t familiar with the concept of minimalism, don’t worry. Between the Netflix documentary on minimalism, numerous television shows about ‘tiny homes,’ and the success of Marie Kondo’s book The Life-Saving Magic of Tidying Up, you will be soon. Minimalists value the freedom of having less and the clutter-free home and mind.
Millennials are embracing this lifestyle for many reasons. For one thing, it’s all they can afford. Student loan debt, lower wages, and the higher cost of living leave very little extra cash lying around to blow on frivolous stuff. Millennials also tend to prefer experiences over things. Travel is easier than ever thanks to technology, and people are choosing vacations, concerts, or meals with friends over material possessions. As mentioned earlier, millennials are buying less homes and opting to rent so that they can easily move around to new jobs. Moving often means constantly evaluating whether having a bunch of stuff is worthwhile. Finally, many millennials opt for less consumerism out of concern for the environment or social justice reasons.
What kind of impact will this have on the housing market? Obviously, the tendency to rent instead of buy will have implications. But what kinds of homes will buyer millennials want? A desire to acquire less and positively impact the environment would suggest that millennials will want smaller homes. Even parents are embracing minimalism, opting for simpler baby gear, hosting ‘no gifts please’ birthday parties, and lowering the square footage they have to clean. Minimalists focus on necessity and functionality, so homes with extras like a formal dining room might lose their appeal.
With minimalists opting for smaller and more functional homes, soon there might be another victim of this millennial killing spree: the McMansion.
Contributed by Cassie Villela.
Cassie Villela is a real estate investor and mother of two in San Antonio, Texas.