Members of Generation Y, those born between 1981 and 1999, are coming to your housing market, and what they want in a home is redefining the way architects, designers, and builders go about with planning residential spaces. That's the conclusion reached in "New Design DNA," an article in August's edition of Multifamily Executive, a sister publication of ProSales that focuses on apartment housing.

"If you're even considering apartment development ... then you'd better be designing for a resident who eats standing up, doesn't care to look out the bedroom window at night, and has traded in traditional concepts of privacy for exciting communal spaces," says the article by former ProSales senior editor Chris Wood.

It noted that developers are creating smaller units; one Houston-based developer's standard has dropped from 950 square feet three years ago to just 820 square feet now. Gen Y buyers are less concerned about halls and walls that separate living from sleeping areas, as well as the idea of dining rooms or alcoves–the assumption is that they'll eat anywhere they want.

At the same time, builders are constructing smaller bedrooms because flat-screen TVs can be hung on the wall, unlike the old cathode-ray sets that were put on a piece of furniture. Bedrooms also are being placed in spaces that don't feature a window to the outside.

Privacy is a design feature that's pretty much limited to the bathroom. "This generation has been raised in a world where it's OK to talk about your love life with your Twitter followers, and, as a result, they have no problem with guests seeing their dirty laundry," Wood writes.

But Gen Y renters also expect higher-quality amenities than earlier generations of renters because they grew up watching design shows. "It's created a vision in the mind of the apartment dweller that he or she is automatically going to get granite countertops because everything on the market looked like that," says Daniel Gehman, a principal at California-based architecture and design firm TCA.