What would you guess is the most important feature millennials look for when buying or renting a home? A fabulous kitchen? Smart home technology? Lots of storage space? Wrong, wrong, and wrong again.
According to recent research from the National Association of Landscape Professionals, a nice-sized lawn is the No. 1 priority among millennials, even beating out an updated kitchen. A whopping 82% of millennials report that having a lawn is the most important feature when renting or buying a home.
Granted, we can’t help but wonder if the source of this report is a bit biased. Still, if this survey does contain a grain of truth, it overturns everything we thought we knew about millennials. I mean, aren’t they the generation obsessed with all things tech, turned off by anything that reeks of responsibility, like lawn mowing?
“While some may assume that trends toward urbanization or the increased use of electronics and technology have resulted in a decreased interest in lawns among younger Americans, the results of our research found just the opposite,” says Missy Henriksen, vice president of public affairs for NALP. “Overall, the results confirm … Americans have a great appreciation for the value that healthy lawns bring to their lives.”
Why millennials love lawns
Allie and Jared Turley of Hemet, CA, are classic examples of millennials who valued outdoor features over indoor ones when they were looking to buy a home a few years ago. In their late 20s and with one toddler, they bought a fixer-upper with a good-sized yard rather than a brand-new home in a tight-knit housing development.
“You can always redo your kitchen, but you can’t change the size of your yard,” explains Allie.
She believes the millennial trend toward self-sufficiency also influenced their decision.
“We wanted room for a garden, where we can grow our own vegetables, and room for pets and solar panels,” she says. “We also wanted a place where everyone can stretch out and enjoy each other, and where our kids can learn the value of hard work—we don’t want them inside playing computer games all the time.”
Despite the growing popularity of city life and dense urban housing, the survey found that 81% of Americans surveyed have a lawn, and a vast majority of those surveyed—79%—said a lawn is an important feature when renting or buying a home. Older generations like Gen Xers and baby boomers also deemed lawns one of the most important home features, falling behind only a renovated kitchen and well above other popular features, including updated bathrooms, lots of storage space, and the ever-popular hardwood floors.
But do we really use our lawns?
Do most Americans really take advantage of the green space right outside their doors? Apparently so, this survey found. Of those surveyed, 47% said they entertain in their yards at least once a month, while 57% said they use their yards for recreation at least monthly. Who doesn’t love throwing a good barbecue, or sharing a toast under the stars with friends?
Beyond that, a whopping 77% of respondents reported relaxing in their yards at least once a week, and about 1 in 3 Americans (32%) do gardening multiple times a week. Most people who garden on a regular basis find it satisfying, even therapeutic.
In fact, the NALP points to research showing that just looking at plants and trees, even through a window, can reduce stress and lower blood pressure. Also, spending time in a natural environment with plants and trees improves attention and memory. And to top it off, neighborhoods with tree-lined streets and larger yard trees have reduced crime rates.
The take-home lesson for home sellers this summer is clear: If you want to lure millennial buyers—and others—better bump up that curb appeal!
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