This story was originally published in Builder.

As some have suspected and some known all along, some 72 million 22-to-37 year-olds consume things, like food, differently.

  • They don't tend to eat at home as much.
  • Fast-food is a more likely choice each week.
  • They don't step foot in a food store as often as adults of other generations.
  • Fresh, uncooked groceries? Not much.
  • If you want to find millennials in a grocery store, best odds are the prepared meal section.

And, the USDA finds, "millennials assign the largest share of their grocery store (food at home) budget to pasta ... Among households earning between $22,500 and $28,332 per household member, Millennials devoted 3.7 percent of their 2014 food-at-home dollars to pasta purchase."

They are young adults, after all. However, per capita, it may surprise you--especially in light of the above facts--that millennials eat as much fruit as older Americans, who spend the most on fruit. And as millennials income goes up, so too, does their consumption of vegetables.

Another thing that may surprise you about millennials.

Two out of three consider it as gratifying to save for the future as to live and spend like there's no tomorrow. They know what's good for them, and they behave that way too.

And, quietly, millennials are taking to homeownership, albeit after checking out all plausible alternatives.

Here, National Association of Home Builders senior economist Na Zhao unpacks third quarter 2018 Census Bureau’s Housing Vacancy Survey (HVS), which subtly detects that homeownership rates in the U.S. have probably bottomed.

Further, Na Zhao notes:

Millennial households, mostly first-time homebuyers, registered the largest gains among all households, a 1.2 percentage point increase from a year ago. Millennials are gradually returning to the for-sale housing market, where gains in home price are slowing down.

Millennials, it appears, are willing to do their part to reinvigorate housing's recovery, and they have plenty--at least 10--good , pragmatic reasons to be in a position to do so. What's more, it feels for all the world as if they've figured out how to flex their collective muscle--i.e. "we've got demand or we've got pent-up demand, ... which would you prefer?"--to bring prices closer within reach of attainability, even if they have to sacrifice some square footage or a posh zip code to do it.

So, what comes to mind as the top 10 data-supported reasons Millennials--not aging Boomers opting for nouveau 55+ lifestyle communities--could be builders' last best hope for a needed blast of adrenaline to keep a now 6-year-old recovery on a path of improvement? Here they are:

  1. Sheer Numbers: They'll be America's biggest generation--aged 23 to 38--in 2019, at 73 million.
  2. Jobs: They're the largest generational cohort in the workforce right now.
  3. Wages: Vanguard Millennials graduated into the Recession where jobs of any kind were hard to come by, and have subsequently labored through a distended low-wage growth recovery ... until recently. Overall wage growth, when you take out an accelerated retirement pace of higher-earning Baby Boomers, will increasingly reflect disproportionately faster and more dramatic growth for younger workers.
  4. Wages 2: Although mortgage rate increases have outpaced household incomes, monthly payment household buying power has been hurt less than meets the eye. Here, First American chief economics Mark Fleming, shows that the ratios that go into household buying power lean favorably from a historical perspective, and will continue to do so if wage growth stays in relative lock-step with interest rate increases.
  5. Household formation: NAHB's analysis of the latest Housing Vacancy Survey provides, senior economist Zhao says, a "timely measure of household formations .... [revealing] that the number of households increased to 121.4 million in the third quarter of 2018, 1.6 million higher than a year ago. The gains are largely due to strong owner household formation. Indeed, the number of homeowner households has been rising since the third quarter 2016, while the number of renter households has been on the downward trend. In the third quarter 2018, the number of homeowners increased by 1.5 million."
  6. Family formation: More than a million millennials are becoming moms each year. That means at any given moment, about a million millennial women recognize that they're going to become mom's within the next year. That means that at any given moment, a million or so millennial women intend to become a mom, and so on...
  7. Economic growth outlook: Tax benefits, deregulation, and relatively low-cost capital, and growing consumer spending and absolute demand all weigh in favor of macro economic momentum continuing for more than a handful more quarters, albeit at a more muted rate. In turn, consumer confidence and sentiment about the outlook remains in a historically positive state.
  8. Lending: Underwriting criteria are easing, new ownership models are emerging, and more homes are adaptable for revenue units or multi-generational use, an economic boon to millennial ownership.
  9. Data:Understanding of the millennial "buyer's journey" improves daily, and so too does the strategic and tactical use of tools to engage, dialog, expand a value-oriented relationship, and remove friction from the process, a funnel seemingly made in heaven to land millennial home buying prospects.
  10. Housing as a service and an experience: Connectivity, well-being, privacy, security, nimble adaptability, room comfort, indoor-outdoor experience, cadencing to circadian rhythms, sanctuary, and the ability to prosper--all of these features, functionalities, and essential ingredients figure prominently as priorities, necessities, and non-negotiables among millennial buyers. Fortunately, more builders have developed product lines that recognized these intellectual property and user experience values as the new square foot.

So, that's how Millennials are prepared to do their part to kick-start recovery back into gear. Now, for builders, their developer, investor, manufacturer, and trade partners, there's this little issue of price.

This story was originally published in Builder.