Don’t Believe the Hype: Why Real Estate Investors Shouldn’t Underestimate Millennials

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How are millennials really impacting the real estate market?

The web has been hit with a massive tsunami of propaganda and speculation about what Millennials want, where they are moving, and how to win their real estate business. Aging real estate agents and brokers in particular are hypnotized by this debate as they try to maintain market share. So what’s the real deal?

What Millennials Want You to Know

The first and most important thing here is to know is that Millennials really don’t want to be stereotyped. That’s like saying all of Gen X or all Boomers share the same tastes and want the same thing. And then they’re treated as a generic commodity to be chased and milked for their dollars and time, to make matters worse.

In reality, Millennials are the same as other generations, with a few tweaks. They are all unique individuals. They may be more tech savvy and have more freedom to choose than the last couple generations, but they have many different tastes and needs too. Not to mention, as always, we need to remember that all real estate is local.


Related: 10 Seemingly Harmless Habits That Sabotage Ambitious Millennials

The Two Big Millennial Real Estate Controversies

Where exactly are Millennials moving?

The media keeps battling back and forth about whether Millennials are rushing back to the urban core to snap up micro-lofts or whether they are stampeding to the suburbs. There is data to support both arguments. Livability’s outlook for 2016 says a return to the urban core is a upward trend. Others quote surveys that Millennials want the yards and views that describe more suburban properties.

The truth is that they are doing both. Some want the lifestyle and convenience of the city. Others want the space and quiet of the ‘burbs.

Real estate investors are wise to pay attention to what is really happening around them and to worry less about how the media is spinning things this hour.

Millennials are smarter than you think.

Many people have been complaining that Millennials aren’t buying homes. Studies show that even though they may have the credit to buy, they have been paying off credit cards and have been cautious about using credit; they just aren’t applying for home loans. That doesn’t mean they are scared of the market. It means they aren’t falling for the ridiculous marketing and scams that got their parents. They are investing — and investing wisely. They are just not buying and borrowing too much on personal residences they aren’t sure they are going to keep anyway. That could ultimately make them the most successful generation in a while.


Related: Millennials Are Poised to Be the Wealthiest Generation Yet: Here’s Why


Don’t underestimate or dismiss Millennials. They know what they want and what they are doing. Many are investing first to buy homes in a smarter and more sustainable way. And what they really buy and rent is incredibly diverse and comes down to each person and family. Don’t try to squeeze them into a mold — they might rebel. Instead, look for ways to better serve them as individuals.

Investors: What’s your experience with Millennials? Do you do anything specifically to cater to this demographic?

Let me know with a comment!

About Author

Sterling White

With just under a decade of experience in the real estate industry, Sterling currently manages over $10MM in capital, which is deployed across a $26MM real estate portfolio made up of multifamily apartments and single-family homes. Through the company he co-founded, Holdfolio, he owns just under 400 units. Sterling was featured on the BiggerPockets Podcast and has been contributing content to BiggerPockets since 2014, with over 200 posts on topics ranging from single-family investing and apartment investing to wholesaling and scaling a business.


  1. Bill Schrimpf

    My renter is from the mellenial generation but doesn’t really qualified since she was born in Argentina! Totally different culture. My next investments will likely go to that generation though because of the economics where I live.

    Thanks for the blog

  2. De Angela Jackson

    As a member of the Nintendo Generation, I will have to say that I feel like we’re stuck between two insane generations! :p

    In my very biased, GenX is like a bridge between Millenials and Boomers: we have all the tech know-how of Millenials and understand the ancient ways of the Baby Boomers. We can speak both languages. 🙂

  3. Elizabeth Zieman

    While Millenials may be socially, ethnically diverse, it does seem that they really value flexibility. I don’t see them rushing into being homeowners. But, they need a cool place to live. So, as an investor, I am much more likely to rent a quality property than to flip it. At least in my market, where a $500,000 starter home is almost impossible to find, the money is in earning rental income. Sadly, I don’t know what happens to all the huge McMansions that were thrown up. I don’t know who buys them in 5-10 years. I’m looking for a creative way to reinvent them.

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