Most millennials want to buy in the suburbs
Picture a millennial home-shopper.
Maybe you see a 20-something touring a downtown rowhouse. A couple checking out a bungalow in a gritty, up-and-coming neighborhood. An urbanite considering a bare, ultra-modern condo.
A few surveys released in recent weeks give us a clearer picture of what we in the Netflix-binging, local-sourcing, student-loan-paying generation want in a home.
Turns out we're not all dying to live downtown, but we do have a taste for high-end amenities.
Two-thirds of millennials want to live in the suburbs and 75 percent want to live in single-family homes (not townhouses or condos), according to a National Association of Home Builders survey released earlier this month.
The survey, which focused on millennials who said they have bought a home in the past three years or plan to buy in the next three years, found that 23 percent want to live in rural areas, while only 10 percent want to live in city centers.
"It surprises me a little to hear millennials say, 'Yeah, we want to live in the 'burbs,' " said Brennan Buckley, senior vice president and general manager of Iowa Realty. "I think that will change as we start to see more metros develop more affordable options to buy downtown."
But 10 percent is a significant portion when you consider how few homes are available in most downtowns, said Creighton Cox, a lobbyist for the Home Builders Association of Greater Des Moines.
"Having 10 percent who want to live in the city center still creates pretty high demand for urban living," he said.
Millennials, the 75 million or so of us between 18 and 34, are poised to overtake baby boomers this year as the nation's largest generation.
Saddled with high student loan debt, relatively stagnant wages and recent memories of the housing crash, we've been slower than previous generations to jump into homeownership. But with the economy improving, homebuilders and real estate observers are eager to figure out what we'll demand when we finally start to trade lease payments for mortgages.
•Outdoor spaces for entertaining. A recent survey from Better Homes and Gardens, a flagship of Des Moines-based publisher Meredith Corp., found that 73 percent of women 35 and younger consider outdoor space important for entertaining. Compare that with 59 percent of women ages 35 to 55 and 46 percent of those over 55.
Some 51 percent of millennial women dream of having an outdoor kitchen sink, cooktop, refrigerator and grill, compared with 25 percent of those older than 55, according to the survey.
•Separate laundry rooms. That was the top item on millennial homebuyers' wish-list, according to the National Association of Home Builders.
•Backyard amenities. Millennial women want stone-paved paths, patios and "edible landscaping" more than older generations, according to Better Homes and Gardens.
•Smart homes. Millennial women are more likely than older generations to desire high-tech amenities like lights, locks and cameras controlled from a smartphone app. Fifty-seven percent of millennial women said smart home tech was a good investment, compared with 35 percent of those 55 and older.
•High-end finishes. According to the homebuilders association, millennials surveyed said they would sacrifice space or location, but would be unwilling to comprise with cheaper building materials.
"I think millennials have been exposed to a lot of amenities," Buckley said. "On social networks, Pinterest and all the shows on HGTV, there is a focus on the finer things, from the granite countertops to the outdoor kitchens. There is a certain level of expectation, but millennials are also cost-conscious and are willing to give up square footage for some of those things."
Kum & Go finishes property purchase
Kum & Go has finished buying land for its new downtown headquarters. Earlier this month, a subsidiary of the convenience store chain bought six parcels near 14th and Linden streets from a subsidiary of Wellmark for $3.96 million, according to assessment records.
The company now owns all the private property in the block between 14th and 15th streets and Ingersoll and Grand avenues. Next, the company will seek to have the city vacate Linden Street, which dissects the block and dead-ends at 14th Street, according to a Kum & Go spokesperson.
Kum & Go announced plans last year to leave its West Des Moines headquarters and build a $92 million downtown office facing the Pappajohn Sculpture Park. The company's subsidiaries have spent more than $13 million on property in the area.
Population tool shows growth for Des Moines
Earlier this week the Iowa Business Council released its annual report, which identified the state's relatively slow population growth as one of the primary challenges for businesses.
The Des Moines area, however, might not face the same problem. A new report from the Urban Institute, called Mapping America's Futures, said metro Des Moines is expected to grow 41 percent between 2010 and 2030.
That would make Des Moines one of the nation's fastest-growing cities and would top many of the region's cities. Population growth during that period is expected to be 19 percent in Omaha, 15 percent in Kansas City and 20 percent in the Twin Cities, according to the report that was based on census data.
Its interactive mapping tool shows how population growth could change based on birth rates, immigration and other factors.