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Though millennials perceive homeownership as a vital component to the American Dream, they are also accepting of the realities of owning a first home, according to a new survey by Better Homes & Gardens magazine. Eighty-five percent of the first-time millennial homeowners surveyed view homeownership as a sound investment, and many are practical when it comes to home-buying and -renovating.

“These first-time millennial homeowners are focused on building equity, not debt,” says Jill Waage, editorial director of Digital Content and Products at Better Homes & Gardens. “They are strong believers in being able to afford their dreams as they achieve them and not over-stretch themselves.”

Only 50 percent of those surveyed are willing to spend top dollar to get exactly the features and quality they want in a home; just 36 percent are willing to take out a loan in order to do so. First-time millennial homeowners prefer, instead, to complete do-it-yourself projects around the house, or wait until they can afford to make improvements—in fact, 90 percent of those surveyed are “very” or “extremely” interested in learning about home improvement. Fifty percent of those surveyed report that at move-in, their current home’s conditions required some degree or repair or remodel.

The do-it-yourself projects at the top of their list, according to the survey, are installing light fixtures and tile and painting walls.

First-time millennial homeowners maintain a realistic outlook for their future homes, as well: their wish list includes a mid-sized home (approximately 2,000 square feet) with a renovated kitchen and bathroom(s) and deck or patio space.

“Millennials and millennial ‘firsts’ [first-time homeowners] are paving their own paths in homeownership based on their own budgets, timeline and needs,” says Waage. “These ‘firsts’ are replacing big-budget homes and expensive renovations with patience, frugalness and practicality.”

Source: Better Homes & Gardens