But millennials as well! According to a recent builder survey, seventy-four percent of millennials will buy a home in the next five years. Struggling with student debt and just beginning their career path, younger millennials are discovering that smaller homes are more affordable when it comes to price per square foot, maintenance and utility costs. These young millennials are careful shoppers and rely upon online information before they reach out to a realtor or visit an open house. They may physically visit as many as 20 to 25 homes and take up to six months to make a decision.
On the other end of the age spectrum are the boomers, many of whom are now empty nesters. For them, the decision to downsize is more complicated than for the first time millennial buyer. Most will want or need to sell their current home which traditionally will have 4 plus bedrooms, 2.5 baths and at least a double car garage. Here in Anchorage, that boomer home can vary anywhere from 2,200 square feet to over 4,000. On the hillside, there are even eight to ten thousand square foot homes and I can’t help but wonder in the future who will buy those homes?
Both millennials and boomers are interested in having more ‘life’ experiences and don’t want to be tied to the challenges of lawn/landscaping care, particularly in Alaska, and, if I can speak frankly which I always do, the continuing increase in Anchorage property taxes. Both millennials and boomers are becoming increasingly aware of the potential financial stress when they purchase at their maximum loan to debt ratios and both generations are now opting for a more conservative approach to home buying. Although buying the biggest house on the block was once the go to purchase requirement, now it’s just the opposite. Buying the smallest home on the block has become the wisest move for many smart buyers.
So what does a small house look and feel like? Here in Anchorage, it’s most likely a 1,500 to 2,000 square foot home on a 6,000 square foot lot. Yes, Alaskans want more yard and space between homes but these homes are almost always $600,000 plus and are for generation X families whose adults are typically in the 40-54 age group. They are seeking to raise their children in the same environment they were brought up in by their boomer parents. Some Generation Y2 (29-39 age) also fall in that group as they begin to have children while the younger Generation Y1 (25-29) are primed for a minimalist lifestyle and a smaller home.
So I’m an aging boomer and every day I look at my high back green sofa, my black leather couch and wonder which one I’ll give away and which I’ll take with me when I downsize. The longer your life the more mementos you collect from trips far and near. What rugs from Istanbul, what porcelain china from Nagasaki and that favorite V-Ray painting you first saw at the Hotel Alyeska, my favorite Alaskan getaway, will you take with you when you downsize?