How To Attract Millennial Home Buyers to Haymarket and Gainesville

What will bring twenty- and thirty-something millennial home buyers to Haymarket and Gainesville VA as first-time home buyers?

By Jamie Shalvey, guest contributor

millennial home buyers

With all the chatter about the Millennial Generation emerging as the largest percentage of first-time home buyers, it might be interesting to consider what will attract them to our area. Many area residents have been here long enough to raise families, send their kids off to college (either in-state or out-of-state) and now have twenty-somethings who fall into this generational status.

Will these millennials eventually come home to Gainesville and Haymarket and settle in one of our suburban communities? Furthermore, what will attract twenty- and thirty-somethings to homes for sale in our area and other suburban areas across the country? What are the trends in affordable housing for millennial first-time home buyers and what features will they look for in both a home and a community?

Understanding the wants and needs of this generation may prompt more local involvement in our community as it applies to planning our towns, businesses and infrastructure. It can also help homeowners plan for upgrades and home buying as they look to the future for resale value.

We spoke to Jamie Shalvey, a 2016 graduate of University of Virginia and 2012 graduate of Battlefield High School. Jamie moved to Boston, MA after graduation and currently works as a Community Planning Assistant with JM Goldson Community Preservation + Planning Consulting Group. Based on her knowledge, research and personal experience, Jamie contributing the following insights.

A recent survey commissioned by American Express and the National Trust for Historic Preservation revealed that millennials tend to value a mix of old buildings and new ones, somewhat disproving the widely held belief that the millennial generation will be drawn to all things shiny and new. According to this survey, 52 percent of millennials view historic preservation as important to engaging in authentic experience and preserving a sense of community.

In the Boston area, where historic preservation is always on the mind of planners, the revitalization of historic buildings into apartments or multi-family affordable units has been a popular means of efficiently using space and resources to create affordable units that will be desirable to residents both young and old.

Along with the trend towards living, shopping, and dining in historically preserved areas, millennials are increasingly drawn to smaller units with less yard space, seeking functionality and minimalism over sprawling space inside and out. In densely populated areas, such as downtown centers of towns similar to Haymarket, more and more large and often old homes are being converted to multi-family, with two or three apartments making way for more families or young couples to enjoy the space. Accessory apartments above garages or in the yards of homes are being used as well, as a way for young couples or elderly relatives to live inexpensively and in a smaller space.

Furthermore, the millennial generation seeks the ability to walk or bike to stores, restaurants, and town centers. Walking paths and bike infrastructure are important to many active young people when looking at buying a home, and a close proximity to town centers is desirable. Top-of-shop housing, like one might see in many town centers, is increasingly attractive to young couples and renters who hope to be able to walk to the grocery store or to a local coffee shop.

Affordability, lastly, is a key factor that most young adults look for in a potential ownership unit. With housing prices rising across the country, it is becoming increasingly difficult for young people to make the move to buy a home. As one of the US’s wealthiest counties, Prince Williams County has limited affordable options, making it sometimes impossible for millennials to find reasonably priced housing. However, an increase in apartments, multi-family housing, town houses, and accessory apartments in towns like Haymarket and Gainesville that have access to bustling, historical town centers could draw in millennials and help create a diverse, vibrant community that people of all ages and backgrounds can be a part of.

RELATED: See all home for sale under $400,000 in Haymarket and Gainesville VA

See this article in the Fall 2017 print issue of Haymarket Homeowner

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