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Hoping to lure millennial buyers, Toll Bros. introduces entry-level homes

Attempting to capture the ever-elusive millennial home buyer, Horsham-based Toll Bros. Inc. is launching a new line of lower-priced homes in January geared toward first-time buyers.

Dubbed the "T-Select" line, the homes will be rolled out — for now — in the Houston market, with an eye to possible expansion into other major markets in the future, Toll's Houston division president, David Assid, said Thursday. Though the Philadelphia metro area was not named specifically, Assid said T-Select "is not going to be necessarily limited to a market or two or three."

Perpetually pegged as debt-burdened renters who have delayed buying homes more than any other generation, millennials — those born between 1982 and the early 2000s — have become increasingly sought after by developers and builders. Recent surveys and studies suggest that as millennials age, many will more seriously consider purchasing homes. According to Harvard University's 2016 State of the Nation's Housing Survey, the number of millennial households is expected to increase from 16 million in 2015 to a projected 40 million by 2025.

"We have an opportunity to introduce a slightly smaller home at a slightly smaller price point," Assid said.

The idea, he said, is to build new homes for this age group rapidly — averaging six months from agreement to settlement. Aiming to target younger buyers who "don't necessarily want to go through the home-building process," the T-Select line will offer fewer structural design options but will provide brand-name products inside. T-Select also will have plenty of inventory on the market, he said.

Still, a T-Select home from Toll Bros. will come at a price: Offerings ranging from 2,600 to 3,400 square feet will sell from the higher end of the $300,000s to $450,000.

"In this market, to be at a price point of under $450,000 for a new home" is a price segment that is very competitive, Assid said. "The quality we deliver is top-notch."

With construction in three Toll communities in the Houston area, the T-Select line could include more than 350 homes over time, located near schools, hospitals, and employment centers. Toll already offers housing similar to T-Select in places such as Jacksonville, Fla., and Boise, Idaho, Assid said.

Toll Bros. is not the first major builder with entry-level housing targeted to the millennial generation. Meritage Homes, headquartered in Scottsdale, Ariz., has introduced a line called "Live.Now," aimed at first-time buyers. According to an October news release, the homes will generally range from 1,800 to 2,500 square feet, with prices starting in the low $200,000s in markets including Phoenix and Houston.