Nearly three-quarters of Gen Z prefers home buying over renting long-term, with a significant number of these aspiring homeowners planning to enter the housing market within the next five years. However, as many Gen Zers are either in their college years or just starting their careers in the face of the pandemic’s economic uncertainties, job stability is their No. 1 barrier to buying, according to a new Realtor.com® survey released .
Between the ages of 18 and 25, the oldest members of Gen Z are in the phase of life where they are beginning to plan for the future and homeownership is a top priority, according to a Realtor.com®‘s survey of more than 700 members of Generation Z who have never purchased a home, via HarrisX. Nearly two-thirds (64%) of Gen Zers said their COVID experience has not impacted their homeownership plans. More than one-quarter of those surveyed feel even more strongly about buying a home as a result of the pandemic.
“Gen Z values homeownership. However, the oldest members of this generation are just entering the professional stage of life and not yet in a financial position to make a big play as first-time buyers – especially in the current housing market, which is challenging even older generations who have had many more years to save for a down payment,” said George Ratiu, Senior Economist, Realtor.com®. “With nearly three-quarters of those surveyed preferring to buy versus renting long-term, the housing industry should be prepared for millions of Gen Z buyers to bring a new wave of demand along a similar stage-of-life timeline as the millennial generation before them.”
What Gen Z desires from homeownership
Among surveyed Gen Zers who prefer buying versus renting long-term, half say owning a home is important to ensuring their family has room to grow into. However, with the vast majority not yet in an established relationship, 40% said now isn’t the right time to buy because they don’t know exactly what their future housing needs will be.
In terms of when aspiring Gen Z homeowners think they’ll be ready to buy, 43% say within the next five years. Roughly the same amount (44%) expect to enter the housing market within the next five to 10 years.
Long-term, nearly half (49%) of future Gen Z homebuyers see themselves living in the suburbs and 19% plan to live in a rural area, both of which typically offer more spacious abodes. The remaining one-in-three surveyed prefer urban city life.
Gen Z is currently career- and finances-focused
Given more than one-third of Gen Z is still in their college years, Realtor.com®‘s survey shows their current priorities are building their careers and the financial foundation needed to purchase a home. When asked what is preventing Gen Z from buying now, half of future homeowners said the No. 1 barrier is job stability. Among those who prefer buying over renting long-term, just under two-thirds said they would be searching for a home right now if they had enough money for a down payment.
Aspiring Gen Z homeowners are taking action to address these barriers. While only 43% are currently employed, nearly half (45%) of those surveyed are already saving toward buying a home. At the same time, the vast majority (75%) of Gen Z did not move home during the pandemic to save on rent. Among those who did move home, just 17% saved money to put toward a down payment.
“When it comes to where Gen Z homebuyers are deciding to live now and in the future, affordability is key,” said Rachel Stults, deputy editor of Realtor.com®. “From exploring metros that offer both jobs and more affordable housing, to saving for a down payment, Gen Z homebuyers know how crucial it is to have a financial leg up when it comes time to buy. If they can learn anything from the experience of the millennial generation before them, it’s the importance of laying the groundwork so that they can act quickly on a home in their budget. Prospective buyers should also plan for what they’ll do if mortgage rates increase or other housing market conditions change quickly, particularly coming out of the pandemic. In short, whether they plan to buy in two years or 10 years, prospective Gen Z homeowners should be thinking several steps ahead.”
Future homebuyers can get a head start by using Realtor.com® resources like its News & Insights site and Home Made blog. The Realtor.com® Mortgage Calculator can also help home shoppers stay on top of financial factors like mortgage rates and associated costs of buying a home.
Methodology: Realtor.com® commissioned HarrisX to conduct a national survey of consumers. This survey was conducted online within the United States from March 26 – April 7, 2021. The survey was conducted among 3,998 adults by HarrisX. The sampling margin of error of this poll is plus or minus 1.6 percentage points. The results reflect a nationally representative sample of adults. Results were weighted for age, gender, region, race/ethnicity, and income where necessary to align them with their actual proportions in the population. In addition to the general population, an oversample was collected for Gen Z not yet in the housing market. The oversample was weighted to align with the original sample. There are 708 Gen Z respondents, defined as those aged 25 and under who have never bought a home and are not planning to in 2021, with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.