Elderly Woman

SAN FRANCISCO—Is there a way to appeal simultaneously to boomers and millennials? Ms. Real Estate tackles the question.

This article was originally posted by Nina J. Gruen

Wouldn’t it be convenient if someone had clear, intelligent answers to most of your CRE-related questions? Problem solved. Nina J. Gruen, a.k.a. Ms. Real Estate, a.k.a. the principal sociologist overseeing market research and analysis at Gruen Gruen + Associates, is here to answer readers’ questions.

Have a question for Ms. Real Estate? Ask anonymously by clicking here.


Dear Ms. Real Estate,

I believe I read an article of yours suggesting Boomers and Millennials are not adverse to sharing space in new mid- or high-rise multifamily rentals and condos. Since these two demographics account for a significant proportion of future growth, do you have any advice as to what architects, planners and developers should be looking for in product designs to appeal to these differing age groups?

—Bridging the Difference in the MF Generation Gap.


Dear Bridging the Gap,

You are correct future demand for new multifamily mid and high rise condos and rentals will be dependent upon the growth of these two demographics. The Millennial and Boomer generations together will account for approximately 160 million of the total US population in 2020, with the Millennials making up about 54% of the total. But by 2030, the two together are forecast to account for approximately 156 million with Millennials accounting for 60% of this total. This increase is due to immigration. By 2030, the oldest Boomers will be in their 80’s so that this generation will decrease in size. However, bear in mind that the majority of both demographics will not have the income to either purchase or rent new multifamily mid and high rise housing.

Both age groups have a strong preference for moving to locations with a high level of amenities and services within an easy walking distance, as well as to have reasonably close access to public transit. At least 50 percent of both generations prefer to rent over owning, but for vastly different reasons. The Millennials, currently age 19-35, who can afford to live in a new mid or high rise multifamily unit want to maximize their mobility to provide the freedom to go where the next best job offer is located. The Boomers (age 51-69) desire a high level of responsibility-free maintenance.

Boomers are, of course, far more concerned with accessibility issues, though there are also Millennials who have mobility restrictions. Accessibility can be addressed by the appropriate design – no internal steps, at least one walk-in shower per unit, sufficiently wide hallways and doors to handle wheelchairs if and when needed, as well as sufficient cabinets in both the kitchen and bath that can be readily reached.

While larger size units are typically located on the higher floors, do not assume they will be primarily purchased by Boomers and the lower floor, smaller-sized units by Millennials. Many Boomers purchase a moderate sized unit to be used as a pied-a-terre, while two-person

Millennial households, when both have high paying tech or professional jobs, often prefer and can afford to rent or buy a larger sized view unit on a higher floor.

Last but certainly not least, both demographics will increasingly insist upon fast and reliable wi-fi, a pet-friendly environment, bike storage space, and on-site car sharing. It is important to build sufficient storage space for the ongoing delivery of packages. An increasing percentage of Boomers and Millennials purchase not only most of their retail goods on line, but in high density downtowns increasingly are having have daily deliveries of groceries and drug store items.

This article was originally posted to GlobeSt.com and can be found HERE.