The #1 Feature That Both Millennials And Luxury Home Buyers Want!

As you can imagine, there are some differences between what millennials (born between 1981-1996) are looking for when buying a home versus what the luxury home buyer wants in a home.

For one, millennials are looking for less space, not more space. They prefer functionality of space over more space. For example, they would rather convert a yoga studio into a spare bedroom for overnight guests than have a dedicated spare bedroom.

Luxury home buyers desire larger driveways as they typically own numerous vehicles. Millennials, on the other hand, have a stronger walkability requirement along with access to public transportation or other ride sharing services.

But what’s that one feature or features that both millennials and the luxury home buyer desire in a home? It’s sustainability. According to one definition, sustainability means living within the resources of the planet without damaging the environment now or in the future. It’s about creating an economic system that provides for quality of life while renewing the environment and its resources.

For both groups, that means solar power. Solar powered homes and in the case of luxury home buyers, solar powered pools. There’s also a trend towards smaller pools too as opposed to pools that take up a large chunk of the backyard. California has gone so far as to require all newly constructed 1 to 3 story homes built beginning in 2020 to have solar power.

Additionally, it means more environmentally friendly homes such as homes that have been constructed with recycled building materials like reclaimed wood and finished using cleaner paints.

According to the EPA, “Nationwide, landscape irrigation is estimated to account for nearly one-third of all residential water use, totaling nearly 9 billion gallons per day.” Sustainability is all about conserving that precious resource.  Luxury home buyers are looking for eco-friendly landscaping like artificial turf to significantly reduce wasteful water use through landscape irrigation.

Homes that are National Green Building Standard Certified appeal to both millennials and luxury home buyers.

Many luxury home builders have been incorporating sustainability features into their homes for several years now. This trend will continue as millennials have progressively been buying into the luxury home market. In fact, Realtor Magazine states buyers under 35 years of age now account for one-quarter of all Toll Brothers Homes purchased. Toll Brothers is the largest luxury home builder in the United States.

Photo credit: Greens MPs on / CC BY-NC-ND

You’re Never Alone With A _______.

How many of you upon reading the title, filled in the blank with Schizophrenic? And the reason you did was to quote the music album of the same name by Ian Hunter, right? Nicely done music buffs! I would have done the same.

However, that would have been the wrong answer as it pertains to this post. The word(s) I was looking for were something along the lines of “voice digital assistant”. You’re never alone with a voice digital assistant like: Siri, Alexa, Google Assistant, Cortana, and Bixby.

Voice digital assistants are available on smartphones, tablets, computers, and on standalone speaker-like devices. Additionally, most major appliance manufacturers will be rolling out voice controlled smart appliances to the U.S. market within the next few months including: washing machines, clothes dryers, dishwashers, coffee makers, and refrigerators.

How do they work? Well, as we go about our daily activities, these voice digital assistants are listening in the background for their wake up phrase (Hey Siri, Ok Google, Alexa are just a few examples). The assistants are able to filter out background noise and upon hearing their wake up phrase and subsequent commands, the devices can send text messages, create calendar entries, dial calls, answer questions, relay weather information, set alarms, adjust thermostats, turn off lights, play music, change television stations, and even operate the above mentioned smart devices within the home. This is by no means an exhaustive list as new functionality is being developed daily.

Technically speaking, once the devices wake up, they begin recording audio clips of your voice. These audio clips are sent over an encrypted connection to a server that processes the audio files and formulate a response. Recordings are saved on the devices and users may access their account to delete them.

As you can imagine, this raises a whole set of privacy concerns. For example, I was showing a luxury home recently, and as I entered the front foyer of the home, there was an Amazon Alexa on a small wooden side table with a printout of possible commands. Why not play along, I thought. “Alexa, Start Tour”. Smooth jazz music began to play throughout the home and the family room eyeball lights dimmed. Based on the printout I asked Alexa to lower the inside temperature. Recording audio is illegal in North Carolina without the permission of a party to the conversation. Did I just inadvertently give the seller permission to record my dialog?

What if voice digital assistants were able to identify a dangerous pattern of words or had the abililty to recognize potential illegal activities that were about to occur? Should the assistants report these incidents to the authorities?

Technology has come a long way from when I was growing up. I can honestly remember not having a microwave as they weren’t available. As my children were growing up, I also remember explaining the rotary dial telephone and how we had to place the tip of a finger in a small round hole corresponding to each of the 10 numbers we wished to dial and with our finger turn the dial clockwise until it stopped.

Imagine a day when children won’t be able to fathom a time when people couldn’t verbally communicate with every device in the home. “Mom! The refrigerator is not listening to me!”.

Luxury Home Market Snapshot: Durham County 10/2019

First of all, where do we draw the line when talking about luxury homes in Durham County, NC? More specifically, where does it start? Currently, The Institute For Luxury Home Marketing defines the bottom-line luxury home threshold for the Raleigh / Durham Area at $539,000.

For our purposes though, let’s limit our discussion to Durham County, specifically. So, what I’ve done is take the top 10% of homes sold YTD in Durham County, sorted by sales price to come up with my own bottom-line luxury threshold of $500,000. Now, if one of you wishes to check my numbers, the true bottom line number is $450,000 but I just can’t see myself calling a $450K home “luxury” and for that reason, I’ve rounded up to $500,000. I’m sure some of you will even say that $500K is also NOT luxury and you’d have a decent argument there as well.

How many luxury buyers are we talking about? The following graph depicts the number of homes that have SOLD within certain price ranges YTD:

And how many luxury homes are currently available for sale in Durham County:

And lastly, how long do these luxury home typically stay on the market?

Durham County luxury homes tend to stay on the market for less than 100 days on average? That’s strong considering the average days on market for the entire MLS is 31 days.

If you have any questions regarding the data or if you’re interested in selling or buying a luxury home, give me a call. I’d welcome the opportunity to help out.