Millennials V Baby Boomers

Nick Churton from Mayfair Office looks at some fast-changing attitudes in the property market.

The presidential election result in America reminded us – if we needed any reminding - that we live in a time of massive immediate and fundamental change. A point not lost on us here in the UK after Brexit. In the property industry, even Budget tax changes can alter buying and selling habits overnight. But there is a more gradual, yet no less significant change going on in our country which is having a significant effect on our attitude to property.

The baby boomers are finally making way for the millenials - Generation X to Generation Y. The digital generation is becoming the increasingly dominant force in the property market. And that will only gather pace in the years ahead. But this new group does not think or act like the old one.

The baby boomers could be relied upon incrementally to develop their parents’ ideas. This new generation have their own thoughts entirely. For income and social reasons, they are generally older when they buy property for the first time. They are far happier to rent than their parents were. They are not so keen to take on older, larger properties and are more reluctant than the last generation to repair, renovate and re-model. DIY is not regarded as a recreation and leisure time pursuit for the younger generation. Millenials often prefer more compact homes built in thermally efficient and ecologically agreeable materials. They want to control the heat, security, lighting and garden irrigation from a beach in Thailand. Sometimes they prefer a holiday in Thailand to buying a property in the first place - a point of view their parents would never understand.

Millenials often tend to favour new homes over old ones – if they have the choice. Those baby boomers who are in the market now are planning retirement, and often prefer urban locations so they can be close to amenities such as shops, entertainment, transport and health services. Older rural properties remain in high demand but some changes may be required to maximise their value with younger or retirement buyers in mind. Your estate agent will understand this and be able to recommend the right course of action - best listen to him or her.

Just as we witness year after year the dwindling numbers of world war veterans filing past the Cenotaph on Armistice Sunday, so we in the property industry witness a changing of the guard in the business of buying and selling homes. There has probably not been such a sweeping change in housing attitudes since the 1960s. The government should take note. Developers should take note. Estate agents should take note - and in particular house sellers should take note. For established norms in buyer behaviour are being swept away. The millenials have their own rules and everyone will have to get used to it, just as the political elite have to get used to it.  Ask Hillary!