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Research reflects millennials' attitudes toward homes

I would be remiss if I didn't take some time to talk about the annual Better Homes and Gardens survey of consumers' attitudes about their homes.

I would be remiss if I didn't take some time to talk about the annual Better Homes and Gardens survey of consumers' attitudes about their homes.

The results come from brand executive editor Jill Waage, who reports on the surveys at the National Association of Home Builders shows every January in places much warmer than Philadelphia.

The latest research focused on the millennial generation and its preferences regarding customization and smart technology in home design.

In October 2015, more than 1,600 U.S. female owners of single-family homes shared their thoughts on home-improvement spending, the importance of functional design, and value in home technology.

"Our research shows that women 35 and under feel strongly that their homes are a reflection of their own personalities," Waage said. These women look at technology as a way to customize living spaces to fit their needs.

"Year over year, millennials are increasingly adopting a positive outlook on the incorporation of smart technology into their homes, and are using it to personalize the homeowner experience," she said.

The survey found millennials place greater importance on maintaining a home that is more personalized to their preferences than the previous generation did.

Almost two-thirds of the women surveyed said that having a home customized to their tastes and needs is a top priority.

Similarly, six in 10 millennial respondents said that having a home that is "a reflection of me" is more important to them than to their parents' generation, Waage said.

Millennials also have a more positive outlook on smart technology in the home, the responses showed.

I need to explain smart technology only because a few weeks back I wrote foodie in an article, and one reader apparently hadn't seen the 35 million references to it in Google.

Smart means "equipped with, using or containing electronic control devices," such as your smartphone.

It can mean being able to program your burglar alarm in Hi-Nella from your hotel room in Ocean City, or raise the furnace temperature so that the house will be toasty when you get home from work.

In the 2015 survey, 68 percent of respondents said smart home technology is a good investment, compared with only 57 percent in 2014.

In 2015, 73 percent said smart home technology made their homes safer, compared with 64 percent in 2014.

Millennials in 2015 (64 percent) said smart technology made their homes healthier, compared with 55 percent in 2014.

Waage said the most recent survey focused on home-improvement spending, as well. Compared with older generations, millennials said they are willing to pay more for high-quality products.

Of those surveyed, one in five respondents said she was in the process of planning or working on an interior project - led by those ages 35 and younger.

While millennial homeowners are similar to older homeowners with regard to the many types of projects they are working on and planning, survey responses found a higher interest in creating office space and adding storage.

One in three millennials said exterior makeovers are expensive and not worth the investment, Waage said. Compared with traditional curb-appeal projects such as new doors, paint or roofing, landscaping ranked as the top priority (44 percent) for millennials looking to enhance the exterior attractiveness of their homes, Waage said.

"The places where millennials choose to spend their money are very telling of the values within this generation," she said.