What Gen Z buyers want

Buying Fall House Hunt
. AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File

Move over millennials, the next generation is on its way to adulthood and more diverse and tech-savvy.

Financial institutions, data analysts, and housing experts are already surveying the preferences of this next generation, nicknamed “Gen Z’’ and variously defined as those born after either 1995, 1996, or 1997. Gen Z adults currently range from 18 to 24.

“Fifty-eight percent of the Gen Z adults we surveyed said they would prefer to live in a diverse community,’’ said David Mele, president of, a property search website headquartered in Norfolk, Va. “Only 12 percent said they want to live in a homogeneous neighborhood.’’

Nearly half (48 percent) of people in Gen Z are nonwhite, according to a 2018 Pew Research Center report; 25 percent are Hispanic, 14 percent black, 6 percent Asian, and 4 percent other, which often refers to mixed-race individuals. Pew also found that most Gen Z adults live in urban areas.

“We think that people will increasingly value diverse neighborhoods, which could have policy implications,’’ said Mele. “It’s encouraging to hear that young people aren’t just willing to live in a diverse community, but they actually prefer it.’’

Proximity to work is the most important consideration when deciding where to live, followed by proximity to friends and family, according to

“Only 25 percent said an urban location was a priority, which means that this generation is agnostic about where they live just as long as it meets their needs,’’ said Mele. “They may embrace suburban living more than millennials.’’

The majority (86 percent) of Gen Zers want to own rather than rent, according to’s survey. The majority (59 percent) of Gen Zers surveyed for Bank of America’s Homebuyer Insights Report said they want to buy a home within the next five years, meaning they would become homeowners before turning 30.

Financially responsible

Millennials were hit by the great recession, which stalled their careers, said Eric Wagatha, head of GfK Consumer Life, North America, a research and analytics company based in New York City.

“As Gen Zers graduate and start their careers, they’re beginning in a time with a relatively strong economy and low unemployment, which may kick-start their earnings quicker than the millennial generation that preceded them,’’ Wagatha said.

That financial boost could mean that Gen Zers will be ready to buy soon.

Bank of America’s survey indicated that more than half (52 percent) of Gen Zers already are saving to buy a home.

“There are some misconceptions about homeownership that persist, such as the idea that you need a 20 percent down payment,’’ said Kathy Cummings, senior vice president of homeownership solutions for Bank of America in Charlotte, N.C. “The good news is that they’re saving and that they don’t need to save as much as they think. There are plenty of loans that only need 3 percent down, and homeowner assistance programs are available for down payment funds and closing costs.’’

While more than half (61 percent) of the respondents to the Bank of America survey said they’ll receive financial help from their parents to buy, the survey found that about half are willing to get a second job and 32 percent are willing to move in with their parents or in-laws to save for a house.

Tech-savvy shoppers

The Gen Z generation in anticipated to be even more tech-savvy than millennials, which could change the way they shop for homes.

Voice-controlled automation and virtual tours are expectations of the Gen Z generation, and 49 percent already own at least one smart home device, according to GfK’s research.

“Gen Z grew up with flawless 4G video streaming on their smartphone,’’ said Tim Costello, founder and CEO of both Builder Homesite and BDX, owner of and, in Austin, Texas. “Gen Z will expect a perfectly realized virtual reality tour that they experience on their phone. The VR tour will contain key information and insights on the home that are intuitively embedded and easily discoverable — creating an immersive experience Gen Z will view as inherently better than touring a physical model home.’’

The aspiration and preparation for homeownership doesn’t mean that Gen Zers aren’t aware of the challenges ahead. They, too, are concerned about affordability, yet they want to own “a place to call home,’’ make an investment in their future — and have a good home for their pets, too.

Michele Lerner can be reached at [email protected] Subscribe to the Globe’s free real estate newsletter — our weekly digest on buying, selling, and design — at Follow us on Facebook and Twitter @globehomes.