Attract Millennial Buyers with These Staging Tips
By Andrew Strauch
A few months ago when I wrote about ways to advertise properties in order to target millennial buyers, I mentioned that what they want most is to live in “College 2.0”—meaning they want all the social aspects of living on a campus but with a bit more privacy and autonomy than they’ve ever had before. I’ve heard a few staging tips from agents who frequently work with younger buyers and are trying to achieve this with their listings so I’d like to share them here. Most of them come from agents with listings in multi-family buildings, but they can also apply to town homes or small detached houses too.
Emphasize social spaces
Since entertaining friends is of high priority to this demographic, the more places in the home that are conducive to socializing, the more attractive it is to younger buyers. For example, a closet near the living room can be turned into a bar by adding a small table with a few shelves above it. Make it visible during an open house by serving lemonade or hot chocolate, depending on the season. The kitchen can have a taller-than-usual table with bar chairs to give the impression of being a good place for a crowd to place their drinks during a cocktail party. Also, if the unit has a balcony, try to fit a grill out there if it is allowed, even if it is the smallest grill in the store. It may seem tiny to older buyers, but if it’s the first grill someone has ever owned it represents freedom and adulthood more than most other pieces of furniture.
While millennials like to entertain at home, they also appreciate meeting up with friends at local establishments. Local amenities to emphasize are places with free WiFi, coffee shops, bars, affordable restaurants where others in the building gather, and the best streets for their friends to find a parking space when they come over to visit.
Highlight millennial-preferred amenities
Access to superior technology is important to this demographic, so take the time to research options available for high-speed Internet service and cellphone coverage. If certain cellphone service provider signals are weak in the area, it may preclude a potential buyer from considering a property. In many cases, purchasing a signal booster can quickly remedy this issue.
A tiny but crucial type of storage millennials want is a place to charge all of their gadgets. As I tour more and more new construction condos I’m seeing developers build in shelves right next to electrical outlets as designated charging stations, but existing homes can convey the same idea with the right sized table or bookshelf next to an outlet. Keep a phone or tablet plugged in while potential buyers are touring the property so they see there’s an easy solution to one of their frequent requests.
Agents tell me that many first-time buyers consider the option to own a dog as important and sometimes mandatory. If the listing is a condo and allows dogs then agents can get millennials’ attention by putting pictures of the nearby dog park in the photos (ideally with a few adorable dogs in the shot); having a list or a map of other nearby pet amenities (such as vet offices, pet stores, walking routes with low car traffic); and staging a dog bed near a low window so the dog can look outside when the owner is at work.
In urban areas most millennials don’t want to or can’t afford to own a car, so their biggest burden is what to do with their bike. In small condos there isn't usually room to store them so they end up taking up space in the living room. One of the most ingenious solutions I’ve seen is to mount a bike vertically in the wall space that the entry door would touch if opened all the way. You do sacrifice being able to open the door a full 180 degrees when the bike is hanging, but that rarely causes a problem since that space is not useful for much of anything else.
With this year’s changes to downpayment requirements for Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae it should get easier for younger buyers to purchase a home, even so many of them still aren’t sure they’ll be able to find a place they like that is in their price range. With just a few staging tactics we can all help dispel that myth helping them purchase their first home.
Andrew Strauch, Vice-President of Product Innovation and Marketing with MRIS, has more than 20 years’ experience in product management, product marketing and engineering.