Whether They Rent or Buy, Millennials Don’t Want to Drive

There are more Millennials than there are boomers or Gen Xers, which may be one reason we in the real estate industry are so laser-focused on engaging them. We hear these 16- to 34-year-olds mostly live at home. (And not just the teenage ones!) Sometimes we hear they actually like the burbs. Reports say changes to down payment requirements may actually push them into the real estate market. City planners and developers take note: Millennials want to walk.

That’s the word from Tuesday’s report from the National Association of Realtors® and the Transportation Research and Education Center at Portland State University, which states that “millennials prefer walking over driving by a substantially wider margin than any other generation.” They surveyed 3,000 adult Americans in the 50 biggest metro areas.

“Millennials are also shown to prefer living in attached housing, living within walking distance of shops and restaurants, and having a short commute, and are the most likely age group to make use of public transportation,” they write. Also: They like biking.

No, that doesn’t mean they can only live in the most walkable cities such as New York City and San Francisco. The whole country has gotten hip to the upsides of walkability: better for health, better for the environment, and more fun, too! Famously sprawling cities like Atlanta and Miami, and their suburbs, are being reinvented as more walkable and transit-friendly.

The specific millennial demands offer developers a strict guide to follow. “Forty-eight percent of respondents reported that they prefer to live in communities containing houses with small yards but within easy walking distance of the community’s amenities,” the report says. “And while 60 percent of adults surveyed live in detached, single-family homes, 25 percent of those respondents said they would rather live in an attached home and have greater walkability.”

What does walkability entail? Sidewalks, for one thing: 85% of those surveyed said that particular amenity was a positive factor in home shopping; 79% said being within walking distance of destinations was important. For most of them, the real goal is to have options: to take transit when they want, to bike sometimes, and, when need be, to get behind the wheel. And guess who wants walkability most? Women. Some 61% of them.

So if such development isn’t on the rise, it sure should be. The NAR reported similar preferences as far back as 2013.

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