Builders can capitalize on the demand for starter homes by delivering the features those buyers are looking for. Among those are: easy access to public transportation, integrated technology and walkable neighborhoods that have stores and other necessities close by.
“Georgia has seen a boom in building multi-use buildings in the suburbs as well as in urban areas,” Stobbe says. “Multi-use buildings are where the first or main floor are businesses such as coffee shops, drug stores, dry cleaners, grocery stores, offices or restaurants while the other floors are for housing such as condos/apartments. More first-time home buyers are moving into these kinds of buildings because everyone wants to have all the amenities without having to walk very far or drive.”
Cook identifies six major characteristics for builders trying to reach the first-time buyer market:
•• Affordability –“A large amount of first-time buyers are millennials and they typically carry student debt; they don’t necessarily have a large enough salary to make up for it.”
•• Energy efficient homes
•• Flexible space to meet changing needs and open floor plans
•• Great outdoor/entertaining space
•• Updated and move-in ready
•• Wireless connectivity and good cell signal
Rogers says starter home buyers are also interested in amenities that emphasize gathering spaces in the home.
“Kitchens are still very important but outdoor living is growing,” he says. “This started mid-recession. In the ‘90s, it was all about building the biggest house possible. The house took up a lot of the land it was built on. Now there is an emphasis on creating more outdoor living spaces as an extension of the home’s communal areas. We’re seeing more screened-in porches, patios with outdoor TVs, etc.”
NAHB research confirms that information, showing that millennial buyers are willing to sacrifice space for amenities, including high-end finishes and plenty of gathering space.
Be sure to check out Part 2 of this series in the September/ October issue of Georgia Professional Builder.