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It’s no secret that the pandemic has inspired many people to ditch compact apartments in major cities in favor of sprawling suburban homes. (In fact, over the past year, the average square footage people are searching for has jumped from 1,700 square feet to 2,400, according to one report.) With most of our days spent at home, we’re searching for spaces that can do it all, but what it “all” means varies from generation to generation—particularly when it comes to these three things.

RELATED: 6 Improvements That Will Get You Top Dollar for Your Home (& 1 That’s the Kiss of Death), According to a Real Estate Expert

millennial homebuying trends office
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1. Home Offices

While many people predicted the death of the open concept floor plan out of a desire for more privacy at home (hey, we’re all searching for quiet nooks to have a Zoom call, get homework done or just have a second to ourselves), a full 51 percent of millennials and Gen X consider it a top priority when buying a house, according to Opendoor’s 2021 Real Estate Trends Report. That figure drops to 37 percent for baby boomers, but the bigger rift was the desire for a home office: It’s a major perk for 64 percent of millennials and just 42 percent of baby boomers. The divide makes sense, given the primary reason for moving for most baby boomers was retirement, whereas millennials cited lifestyle changes as a result of COVID-19.

Psst: If you’re selling your house, it may be worth staging a guest room to look like an office. One real estate agent we spoke to said that most people can imagine what a spare bedroom would look like (“bed goes here, nightstands there”), but staging the extra room to look like an office can help them envision a whole new realm of possibilities for that space.

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2. Pools & Hot Tubs

A desire for homes with a hot tub or pool is particularly popular among millennials and Gen X (43 and 39 percent, respectively), though it’s one of the least important features for baby boomers right now (19 percent).

“One of the biggest reasons baby boomers may be less interested in hot tubs and pools is because of the required upkeep,” says Beatrice de Jong, consumer trends expert at Opendoor. (There’s also the cost of maintenance, which can be challenging for retirees on a fixed income.)

“In my experience as a realtor in Los Angeles, I’ve seen that millennials are starting to be very family-focused, and having a pool is a great way to entertain kids at home,” she adds. “I’ve noticed that millennials, particularly in Los Angeles, prefer newer homes—including condos and townhouses—which are typically built on smaller lots. The ability to fit a hot tub or a pool can be a huge plus.”

millennial homebuying trends gym
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3. Home Gyms

Another key difference? Almost half of millennials ranked a home gym as one of the most appealing features of a new home (49 percent). That figure drops to 42 percent among Gen X and 19 percent for baby boomers. This is likely due to millennials’ tendency to exercise more often than other age groups, leading them to be known as the “wellness generation,” de Jong notes.

“While many baby boomers are active, our data shows that home gyms simply aren’t a top priority when they’re looking for a new home,” she says. “We’ve found that instead, they’re more likely to look for homes with high-quality kitchens and outdoor space. These amenities are ideal for activities like cooking, gardening and entertaining.”

It’s too soon to say whether these changes in preferences will have long-term appeal, particularly as more of the world becomes vaccinated against COVID-19. If you’re going to focus home improvements in any one area, your best bet remains the kitchen and curb appeal; those have historically had the best ROI, and despite our lifestyle changes, they endure. If you have the budget for other improvements, it may be worth zeroing in on these three areas (especially if they’re things you can enjoy before you put your house on the market).

RELATED: The Smartest Updates You Can Make to Your Kitchen in 2021 (Plus, 2 to Avoid)

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