By Barbara Ballinger
Millennials are buying houses—many for the first time—and in doing so they’re learning that houses require maintenance, which can often be pricey. These days, repairs can also be a challenge if the homeowners are not handy since contractors can be as scarce as the houses in some communities.
Puronics, a Livermore, Calif.-based company that develops pure water solutions, surveyed 1,000 millennials in December 2021, aged 25 to 40, on how they feel about tackling certain tasks.
Of survey respondents, 48% said they are currently homeowners, 48% are renters, and 4% had other living situations—and maintenance costs deterred some of the non-homeowners from buying a home.
Just what were they uncomfortable doing?
- 60% didn’t know to fix a leaky faucet
- 53% claimed to be unable to caulk tile
- 52% didn’t know how to fix a garbage disposal
- 49% were unsure how to clean a dishwasher filter
- 43% didn’t know how to replace a refrigerator water filter or their dishwasher filter
- 29% didn’t know how to clean a showerhead
- 22% didn’t know how to replace an air filter
- 19% didn’t know how to reset a tripped fuse
- 8% didn’t know how to manually flush a toilet
- 6% couldn’t unclog that toilet
But the good news is that some in this group do tackle home maintenance chores, even if they don’t represent a majority. For example, one in four unclog their kitchen drains, and 27% clean their ovens every six months.
As an advisor, real estate salespeople can recommend that anyone buying (or renting) have some of the right tools on hand, and better, know how to use them or where to find help.
In fact, a good closing gift might be some of the most useful home maintenance tools, such as a stud finder, ladder, level, a how-to crash course online, or a book differentiating a flat-head and Phillips-head screwdriver since one in 10 don’t know the difference between them, the survey found.
Many do turn to the internet for help, with 86% asking Google and 85% searching up YouTube videos. Other sources of information are parents, whom 62% consult, while 59% ask a friend or significant other, and 42% ask a professional in the field—that could be you!
Are some of these facts the reason millennials resist buying? Yes, 45% who rent said the thought of home maintenance expenses stopped them. Another reason is that 76% don’t budget for maintenance, and if they do, they set aside an average of $2,869.
When advising this cohort, real estate professionals would be wise to share information with their clients to help them understand what parts and systems of a house need regular care and repair, and how to budget for additional expenses. It’s value-add as their trusted agent and an opportunity to quell buyers’ nerves about potential home maintenance as homeowners.
Barbara Ballinger is a freelance writer and the author of several books on real estate, architecture, and remodeling, including The Kitchen Bible: Designing the Perfect Culinary Space (Images Publishing, 2014). Barbara’s most recent book is The Garden Bible: Designing Your Perfect Outdoor Space, co-authored with Michael Glassman (Images, 2015).