As millennials have come of age, they've been hailed as a generation of renters – largely due to the fact that home prices have outpaced wage growth in much of the country.

But as the cost of living slows to better meet job and wage growth, younger Americans are entering the housing market at a greater pace.

In 2016, nearly half of homebuyers were first-time buyers, made up primarily of millennials – those age 18 to 35 – according to real estate information company Zillow.

Zillow predicts the share of millennial homebuyers will continue to grow in 2017, driving up the overall U.S. homeownership rate. The U.S. Census Bureau reports homeownership was 63.5 percent in the third quarter of 2016, a slight uptick from the second quarter, which at 62.9 percent was a 51-year low.

And with a new majority buyer demographic, the real estate industry is working to meet the needs and expectations of a generation for whom using technology is natural, relationships are key and innovation is necessary to bring the field on par with other industries that have had a significant base of millennial consumers for many years.

David Walker, CEO of TripleMint, a full-service real estate brokerage, says he expects millennials entering the market to begin making an impact on how the industry operates in the immediate future.

[See: 10 Ways Millennials Are Changing Homebuying.]

“There’s going to be a huge swing where that’s going to change as millennials enter the housing market and sort of demand a higher level of services and platforms and a different type of brand that has been successful in the past [in other industries],” Walker says.

Here are four things millennials may encounter when searching for their next home.

More amenities. Added perks are not just for apartment buildings, as condominium associations, planned communities and even existing neighborhoods are striving to attract the millennial generation as it comes of age with features and services to make living more convenient and enjoyable. Individually owned communities can learn from rental communities that have found their niche market and cater to millennial residents' needs.

One example in the District of Columbia is a newly redeveloped apartment building by Varsity Investment Group that's embracing its neighborhood’s high concentration of students and recent college graduates from George Washington University.

Varsity on K in the District of Columbia's Foggy Bottom neighborhood.

Varsity on K in the District of Columbia's Foggy Bottom neighborhood. (Eric Kieley Photography)

Varsity on K, which opens to residents of the Foggy Bottom neighborhood on Feb. 1, was designed by architect Fernando Bonilla-Verdesoto, founder of Soto Architecture and Urban Design, to meet the needs and expectations of the ever-growing millennial demographic.

“Technology is embedded in the millennial culture; they are constantly connected to social media and stream videos and music over any number of devices,” Bonilla-Verdesoto said in a press release. “As architects, we need to make sure that our designs provide the infrastructure required for a larger digital bandwidth.”

With that in mind, the Varsity on K community offers all-inclusive rent, looping in electric and gas utility costs as well as Wi-Fi and TV. Programmable thermostats, built-in USB outlets and a digital concierge package system packs new technology into residents’ homes.

Varsity on K in the District of Columbia's Foggy Bottom neighborhood.

Varsity on K, an apartment development designed by architect Fernando Bonilla-Verdesoto. (Eric Kieley Photography)

[See: 8 Apartment Amenities You Didn't Know You Needed.]

More technology in the search. Tech offerings aren’t only inside the home itself. As the first generation to grow up with the internet and ever-evolving tech gadgets readily available, a level of automation and ease is expected in any decision-making process – and finding a new home is no exception.

“Today’s modern buyer starts the process online – that’s the new normal,” Walker explains. As millennials become a larger share of the homebuyer market, multiple forms of communication with real estate agents, easy access to information online and virtual document-signing are growing necessities in real estate.

For Matt Silver, a Realtor at Urban Real Estate in Chicago and board president of the Chicago Association of Realtors, automated processes like DocuSign keep the process moving. “I can put together a contract in my car and send it off” without having to go back to the office, he says.

Rather than forcing young buyers to adapt to existing real estate processes, the industry is developing to meet the needs and expectations of millennials who are used to multiple communication options, whether it's texting and video chat, or using Snapchat or Instagram to see available properties. Alternative forms of communication extend to finding information with ease online or on an app, and a quick and secure way to negotiate and sign documents remotely.

“On so many levels, technology has taken over and lent itself to the success of the real estate market,” Silver says.

More full-service offerings. While easy access to property records and listings online provides homebuyers with more information than ever before, the role of a real estate agent has begun to evolve.

Silver explains that the unprecedented amount of information consumers have at their fingertips typically gives them a more thorough foundation, but it’s the agent’s role to provide the expertise beyond that. “Information is one thing, but aggregating it is another,” he says.

Many brokerages have begun reworking their offerings to focus on providing a full service to the client – not just helping find or sell a home, but connecting the client with the necessary contractors, managing the moving process and easing the transition for everyone.

“What’s driven a lot of our growth has been [Triplemint's] focus on the buyer and seller experience, and making that the best we can,” Walker says.

[Read: 5 Ways the Housing Market Could Change in 2017.]

Less of a hard sell. That full-service mentality means many real estate agents can focus less on the sale process and more on relationship-building with clients, which Walker says has become a common strategy across multiple industries as the millennial generation comes of age.

At TripleMint, homebuyers and sellers first interact with a member experience manager rather than an agent. The member experience manager answers questions about the market and the homebuying and selling process and gauges the individual's needs for working with an agent. Walker explains this first point of contact allows the buyer or seller to ask questions and get information from an impartial source – without having to be worried about the bottom line right off the bat.

“It’s been hugely successful for us in having a helpful, impartial person who’s really just there to answer the many questions that buyers and sellers have starting the process, without feeling like they’re being sold to,” Walker says.

Tags: real estate, housing market, housing, home prices, renting, millennials

Devon Thorsby is the Real Estate editor at U.S. News & World Report, where she writes consumer-focused articles about the homebuying and selling process, home improvement, tenant rights and the state of the housing market.

She has appeared in media interviews across the U.S. including National Public Radio, WTOP (Washington, D.C.) and KOH (Reno, Nevada) and various print publications, as well as having served on panels discussing real estate development, city planning policy and homebuilding.

Previously, she served as a researcher of commercial real estate transactions and information, and is currently a member of the National Association of Real Estate Editors. Thorsby studied Political Science at the University of Michigan, where she also served as a news reporter and editor for the student newspaper The Michigan Daily. Follow her on Twitter or write to her at

Recommended Articles

How to Write an Offer Letter to a Seller

Tania Isacoff Friedland | Sept. 17, 2020

Connect with home sellers to make them feel good about letting you purchase their home.

The Guide to Understanding Home Value

Devon Thorsby | Sept. 15, 2020

Here's a look at the process of calculating the value of your home and what it means for your home's sale price.

What to Know About Moving to Chicago

Devon Thorsby | Sept. 10, 2020

Chicago can be a great place to live if you can handle the cold winter and cost of living and embrace public transit.

How to Set Up Your Utilities

Devon Thorsby | Sept. 9, 2020

Here's what you need to know about which utility company services your new address, how to set up an account and why you may need to pay a deposit.

What to Know About the Halt on Evictions

Devon Thorsby | Sept. 3, 2020

The CDC has announced a halt on evictions through the end of 2020, but certain criteria keep some renters vulnerable to eviction. And the rent is still due.

How to Declutter Your Home

Devon Thorsby | Sept. 3, 2020

Follow this step-by-step guide to make your home more manageable and organized.

Deed vs. Title: What to Know

Devon Thorsby | Sept. 1, 2020

Learn how the deed and title play into homeownership, and the details you need to know before closing on a home.

Is Fee Simple or Leasehold Better?

Devon Thorsby | Sept. 1, 2020

Learn the different ways you can hold property with fee simple ownership or a leasehold.

How to Factor in a Home's Outdoor Space

Tania Isacoff Friedland | Aug. 27, 2020

While outdoor space has always been considered an appealing feature to homebuyers, there's newfound value in having a private outdoor oasis.

Should You Build a Mother-in-Law Suite?

Devon Thorsby | Aug. 25, 2020

These additional living spaces could give you the guest space or rental income you're looking for.

25 Small Space Decor Ideas for Your Home

Devon Thorsby | Aug. 21, 2020

These tips can make a small room feel bigger and help you master organization with minimal storage.

5 Things to Ignore on a Home Tour

Allison Chiaramonte | Aug. 20, 2020

Don't rule out a potential home for the wrong reasons. Focus on the details that count.

Why Tenants Are Not Safe From Eviction

Devon Thorsby | Aug. 19, 2020

People struggling to pay rent should still be worried about eviction should local eviction moratoriums end.

How to Vet a Neighborhood Before Moving

Devon Thorsby | Aug. 17, 2020

Before signing a lease or buying a house, visit frequently, check neighborhood safety and learn more about the area.

What Is a Duplex?

Devon Thorsby | Aug. 11, 2020

Learn the basics about duplex properties, and how they can be a first step for people looking to invest in real estate.

Should You Live in a Single-Family Home?

Steven Gottlieb | Aug. 11, 2020

Depending on your own priorities, finances and bandwidth, one style of living might be better for you.

Denver Housing Market Forecast

Andrew Fortune | Aug. 6, 2020

Here's what you need to know about the Denver housing market now, and what to expect in the future.

How to Make and Accept an Bid on a Home

Devon Thorsby | Aug. 6, 2020

Here's what you need to know to go under contract and move toward a successful home purchase or sale.

Considerations Before Buying a Vacation Home

Geoff Williams | Aug. 5, 2020

You'll want to think about money, rental challenges and market.

How to Build a Fire Pit in Your Backyard

Devon Thorsby | Aug. 4, 2020

Follow these 10 simple steps to transform your backyard into a rustic retreat.