Women make most big home-buying decisions, so what they want speaks volumes about what counts.
A seven-bedroom home built by Middlefork Development at 1872 North Howe Street.
Whether single or married, US women make home-buying decisions 91 percent of the time, according to the Boston Consulting Group. That makes their wants and needs enormously important, but stage of life dictates their requisites. To find out why, we turned to three big-ticket brokers who are authorities on their respective generations—Millennial Brittany Shapiro of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices KoenigRubloff’s Brad Lippitz Group (312-498-5399), Gen X-er Deborah Ballis Hirt of Coldwell Banker (312-286- 0300), and Baby Boomer Pamela Sage of Baird & Warner (312-318-8008).
How do stage-of-life issues influence women’s choices? Brittany Shapiro: Millennials [born 1981 to 1997] are usually buying their first places, so they aren’t going for single-family homes. But they don’t just want an apartment—they want a lifestyle with all the amenities they need.
Deborah Ballis Hirt: It’s a broad spectrum for Gen X-ers [born 1965 to 1980]: Some had kids early and are downsizing now, others had kids late and are just buying larger homes, and many are single. Each has very different needs but very specific wishes.
Pamela Sage: In the luxury market, Boomers [born 1946 to 1964] are downsizing to smaller but still sizable places or buying pied-à-terres and keeping suburban homes to be near their kids. But in both cases, that means certain types of amenities.
The lofts at 1800 West Grace Street are right by a Trader Joe’s, the Brown line, the Southport Corridor, and three great schools.
Let’s talk amenities. BS: By lifestyle, we mean full-amenity, new-construction buildings with a great lobby, a gym, party room, free Wi-Fi, doormen, a great location, and a concierge, if possible. Women want to be able to walk to main transit lines, restaurants, good grocery stores, and entertainment. And the [units] themselves must have high-end finishes, well-appointed kitchens with luxury appliances, and a full bath. A separate shower and tub is a home run, but even better is a half-bath in one-bedrooms for guests.
DBH: Single Gen X-ers want all of the above. But those with families are also factoring in a litany of other things. Women want three or four bedrooms on one level with at least two en suite bathrooms and one shared; outside spaces with wider lots; and at least two-car parking. But location, good neighborhood schools, and playgrounds are also critical. They’d rather sink more money into the right new-construction residence than private schools.
PS: Boomer women are less focused on new construction, but more focused on ease, location, and amenities. The older you get, the easier you want things to be, and that means one-level living, the ability to walk out your door and have it all, and a doorman to unload your car. So the Gold Coast or Streeterville are most popular.
A condo in the Palmolive Building.
What one thing counts most? BS: The young women I work with have no interest in sacrificing.
What is your ideal listing for each generation? BS: 1800 West Grace: A two-bed, two-bath, super-spacious, ultra-sexy loft with top-of-the-line finishes in North Center. It’s $995,000 through the Brad Lippitz Group.
DBH: We represent Middlefork Development, which does single-family homes that exemplify everything I mentioned. They just broke ground on a classic limestone home in East Lincoln Park at 1734 North Mohawk.
PS: Our office is handling a four-bed, five-bath condo at One Mag Mile (950 N. Michigan Ave.) that has it all—shopping, restaurants, culture, the lake, and even medical institutions within minutes of your front door.