By Akash Pharande, General Manager – Espaces Pharande
Pune, July 20, 2022: For property developers and their marketing teams today, things have changed a lot over the past 30 years. In India, first-time home buyers are no longer people in their late 40s or early 50s who have saved up to fulfill their dream of buying a home. Today’s first-time buyers are predominantly millennials. In a relatively young country like India, they are now the largest customer segment for property developers.
What Defines Millennial Homebuyers? Unlike the older generation who worked and saved their entire lives to finally achieve their aspiration to become a homeowner, millennial homebuyers have six important differentiators.
1. A youthful perspective
Above all, millennial homebuyers are young. This means that they come to market with the aspirations of young people. When they buy homes, they don’t care so much about the things that matter most to their parents, like appreciation trends and returns on investment. Sure, they expect their homes to go up in value over time (who doesn’t?), but for ROI, they rely more on the stock market and often crypto too. -currencies.
Instead, they want to own homes that help them explore their youthful taste for life experiences. Of course, proximity to the local kirana store is important, but so is having a lively cafe, a resto-bar that plays trendy music, and an overall youthful profile in the neighborhood. Their interpretation of convenience also goes far beyond that of their parents. They are tech-savvy and expect to live in homes where technology plays a significant role in the overall livability quotient.
2. Educated Research Vs. Educated Guesses
While their parents relied heavily on word-of-mouth recommendations from family and friends, millennials instead put their higher education to good use. Many have credentials based on far superior education than the previous generation. At the time, college degrees did not allow graduates to approach the home buying process from the perspective of a researcher.
Degrees in engineering, medical sciences and even business are now heavily based on digital technologies. This is the age of the internet and social media. The information highway is massive and very accessible to those who know how to navigate it. Millennials do.
Millennials don’t buy homes based on flashy marketing, hype, and flippant assurances. They do extensive homework, using their DigiTech skills to go beyond websites to extract information and feedback from consumer forums and social media platforms. Very few millennials arrive at a project site with no idea of the developer, their background, the pros and cons of the project and location, and average selling prices in the area.
3. In no rush to “settle down”
It’s something most developers still don’t seem to understand – trying to market a project by appealing to a millennial’s aspirations for a sedentary married life is, more often than not, a fruitless endeavor. Millennials don’t marry early in life, and a good number of them don’t have such plans at all. The perception of relationships has changed enormously over the past two to three decades.
Therefore, a hoard that shows how happy the project will make a young couple with children may miss the mark 70% of the time. Rather, this hoarding space should highlight the digital efficiency of these homes, the project’s proximity to fashionable leisure and entertainment establishments, and how in-house facility management will take care of the home while owners travel.
4. The sustainability imperative
When we watch the latest scandalous documentary about the fate of planet Earth, we rarely see old people waving the microphone. Almost without exception, environmental activists today are young people – in some notable cases, fresh out of school. Today’s younger generations are keenly aware of how previous generations allowed the environment to be exploited for short-term gain.
15-20 years ago, eco-friendly homes were little more than a fad in India – an entertaining indulgence for the idle wealthy, at best. Millennials are aware of what’s happening on the planet, care about it personally, and want energy-efficient homes in projects developed in an environmentally responsible manner.
They will prefer projects supported by solar energy, will not create unnecessary heat islands, will have enough greenery and reduce the need for unnecessary electrical appliances. They want to know where the sewage goes and if the garbage is separated.
5. Size Matters – Flashiness Doesn’t
Location still matters, but only from a price arbitrage perspective. Millennials want bigger homes than the centrally located lofts that satisfied their elders. They’ll gladly forgo vanity zip codes in favor of quieter suburbs if they can buy an apartment that supports privacy, recreation and working from home.
They are also less driven by other “first impression” imperatives such as lavish foyers and pseudo-dramatic architectural sweeps. The aesthetic of the day is efficiency, defined by clean lines and the best possible use of space.
Unlike previous generations, millennials approach buying a home from the perspective of people who won’t spend the majority of their time there. To inspire the admiration of those who visit them at home is not among their priorities. They want to travel a lot and socialize with their audience in young and lively places when they are not traveling. Today’s modern townships create such spaces within the townships themselves.
6. Health Centered Living
A residential project that lacks a jogging track, tennis court and gymnasium has already largely missed the millennial bus. Young people today are not only concerned about their planet and others, they are also heavily invested in their own well-being. The open green spaces are not just an aesthetic for young buyers, but represent a lung and prove that the developer has not sacrificed health and well-being on the altar of profit.
Considering all these defining aspects of the demographics of millennial homebuyers in India today, it is clear that a considerable number of older housing projects are not of interest to them. Millennials may rent homes in such projects, either due to budget constraints or because the locations around their place of work have no projects that appeal to them.
But when they decide to ditch the rental hamster wheel and jump into home buying, developers face a completely different clientele today than they did a few decades ago.