COVID-19 has precipitated an unprecedented change in lifestyle and housing needs, especially for the wealthy who can afford to choose where they live and, breaking from the traditional notion of a “starter home”, wealthy millennials are going large.
“Unlike their predecessors who first bought a modest property, lived in it until starting a family, and then upgraded to a larger property, it’s not uncommon for a millennial’s first property purchase to be a multimillion-Rand luxury home,” says Grahame Diedericks, Manager Principal of Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty in Midrand.
Star of the new BBC Lifestyle show, Listing Jozi, and one of the new-generation agents who are making their distinctive mark in the industry by doing things very differently, Diedericks understands this market all too well.
“Millennials are quickly becoming a dominant force in high-end real estate and, although their specific needs do depend on their current situation – whether they’re single, married, have children – most of these buyers have certain criteria and priorities in common.”
“Wealthy millennials tend to favour new, clean and modern designs but more for the functionality and convenience than the aesthetics and they are generally more concerned about quality than size.
“In fact, features like outdated parquet flooring could actually render a home unsellable to millennials, regardless of the house’s design.
“And, being environmentally conscious, they lean towards sustainable luxury and eco-friendly features and finishes.”
Diedericks says that another common request is hi-tech features and that millennials love having a smart home with a system that controls everything from lighting and music, to the alarm and even the fireplace.
“In fact, going forward, we expect to see luxury property developers integrate touchless, high-tech features and energy-saving systems into more homes and greener building methods are likely to become far for the course.
Younger clients also like a space in which they can entertain and they usually request an open-plan designer kitchen with all the bells and whistles.
“Over and above the aesthetics of the room, millennials also want top-of-the-range amenities like good coffee machines and wine coolers.”
“The old adage, ‘location, location, location’ is equally important to these buyers,” says Diedericks, “but in many cases it about walkability rather than driving proximity to amenities.
“They want to be able to walk to restaurants, the gym and the shops and to live in a vibrant area.”
According to Diedericks, one of the key contributing factors to the rise in luxury home sales is the number of affluent home owners now working from home because of the pandemic.
“Larger homes allow for a comfortable, professional home office as well as wellness areas like gyms, yoga and meditation rooms or even a spa.”
According to a 2020 report by the Brookings Institute, millennials in a unique position: they are the most educated generation in history, have higher earnings, and are set to inherit more than any prior generation.
And, characterised by their tech savvy and environmentally conscious values, millennial preferences are already transforming the market with these buyers making their distinctive mark in high-end real estate.