Redfin Survey: Millennials Willing to Commute for Single-Family Home

Contrary to the belief that millennials prefer urban amenities to suburban space, more than 90% of millennial homebuyers would choose a single-family home over an equal-priced unit in a triplex with a shorter commute, reported tech-powered brokerage Redfin.

“Even as we’ve seen a revival in many urban neighborhoods, the American ideal of a detached home with a white picket fence and a private lawn doesn’t appear to be changing — at least for the time being,” said Daryl Fairweather, Redfin chief economist. “While some cities and states like Minneapolis and Oregon are aiming to create more affordable multi-family housing options by eliminating single-family zoning, as long as Americans are willing to pay a premium for detached homes, developers are likely to continue building them.”

The August 2019 survey asked more than 1,400 U.S. residents who are thinking of buying or selling a home in the next year to choose a home based on the following hypothetical situation: “You find a single-family home with a backyard for the same price as a unit in a triplex (a building with three attached homes). The triplex is smaller, but meets your space needs, and has a shared backyard and significantly shorter commute. Assume the school quality and safety ratings are identical.” The report breaks down the results both by age and geography.

The survey found that 89% of homebuyers and 93% of millennial respondents would prefer a single-family home with a backyard over a unit in a triplex with a shorter commute. Regardless of where people live within the U.S., more than 85% of homebuyers and sellers prefer single-family homes to a unit in a triplex with a shorter commute.

Homeowners may be adjusting size expectations. Although the research indicates that most homebuyers prefer single-family homes, the size of those homes has recently started trending downward after years of going up. The median home size in the U.S. in 1975 was 1,535 square feet. It peaked at 2,467 square feet for the typical home in 2015 and has dropped since then to 2,386 square feet in 2018.