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How boomers can appeal to millennial home buyers

To appeal to millennial home buyers, the kitchen should have a taller-than-usual table with bar chairs to show it’s a good place for a crowd to place their drinks during a cocktail party. (Benjamin C. Tankersley/THE WASHINGTON POST)

David Charron, president and chief executive of Rockville-based multiple-listing service MRIS, writes an occasional column about the Washington-area real estate market.

Today’s millennial buyers have different expectations and desires for a home than their parents had. Yet with the shortage of home listings in the Washington area,  baby boomer homes are what make up the majority of listings in a millennial’s price range.

The sellers of these homes are often newly retired and ready to downsize, so selling their home is going to be a significant part of their retirement nest egg. In order to command top price, it pays to present the home in a way that appeals to the needs of most millennials.

How policymakers can help more millennials become homeowners

Millennials prefer their living spaces to be streamlined. A home’s entryway is one of the easiest places to make a good first impression. In new construction, developers are building shelves right next to electrical outlets for charging stations, but sellers can convey the same idea by setting up a dedicated command center near the door with a place for keys, mail, coats and bags. If there’s an outlet nearby, stage it with a plugged in tablet or phone so potential buyers can see immediately that there’s a place to keep their devices near the hub of the home.

Next, focus on the common areas. No other generation is known for placing such a high priority on socializing. Make sure the living room and kitchen look as inviting as possible. The kitchen can have a taller-than-usual table with bar chairs to give the impression of being a good place for a crowd to place their drinks during a cocktail party. If you have an open layout, arrange the seating areas so that it’s easy for buyers to imagine having a group over without too much crowding. If you or your real estate agent are hosting an open house, consider setting up a beverage and snacks station for people who come through. That not only shows how amenable the home is for entertaining, but also makes people linger a while longer and learn more about the property.

Why home sellers should pay their buyer’s closing costs

This is not to say that every millennial is looking for a place to party. Millennials roughly span from ages 20 to 35, so a large percentage of the population has begun a family, or plans to in the near future. Thus, many of these buyers keep an eye out for places where young children can play safely — either indoors or out.  If the home doesn’t come with a yard, clearly display maps with the nearest playgrounds, parks and bike paths outlined so they get a sense of how kid-friendly the community is.

Millennials make up the largest segment of our country’s population and will be a driving force in both the real estate market and the economy as a whole. Appealing to their needs and wishes for a home doesn’t have to take too much effort and will payoff substantially when it comes time to put your home on the market.