PulteGroup recently ran a series of focus groups on the topic of home buying and ownership aimed at Gen. Y, "the largest age demographic in the country's history." The company took away some valuable insights into the demographic's needs and desires, what they wanted and what they could live without. "Eighty-eight percent said they still want to be homeowners," notes Burney, despite witnessing the struggle that their parents faced during the recession.
For a generation able to design their own Nikes and t-shirts online, perhaps it's not surprising that a desire for customizability was one of PulteGroup's key discoveries. Another item on the list of Gen Y housing demands? Plenty of hook-ups for their bevy of smart phones and flat screen TVs.
Armed with an understanding of this demographic's thirst for immediate gratification, PulteGroup created a service that gives house shoppers "iPads that allow them to customize the floor plans and immediately see how their choices impact the bottom line cost. After leaving the sales center, agents e-mail the shoppers all the floor plans they custom configured along with the price of each so they can continue to contemplate the purchase. They also made it easy for shoppers to upload the information onto Facebook so they can share it with their friends."
"It's real important to get people comfortable before they commit to buying a home," says Fred Ehle, vice-president of marketing for PulteGroup. Though this group may not be ready or able to purchase a home in the next few years, "the demographic will eventually bring new household levels up to what they were from 1995 to 2002, between 1 million and 1.2 million a year."