- Gen Zers make up the largest generation, and they’re graduating college now. Learning their values and how to communicate best will increase your chances of doing business with them in the future.
Generation Z, also known as the iGeneration, is even larger than Gen Y. Born after 1995, the oldest members are just beginning to enter the real estate market and will fundamentally transform how we conduct business.
In 2014, Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate conducted the first major study on Gen Z attitudes toward real estate. The research was done as Gen Z was hitting college age in 2014, but it’s relevant now as the generation inches toward homeownership.
Subsequent research from Wright State University has revealed additional insights into how this generation will transform our business. The bottom line? The future looks bright.
First, I’ll take you through both studies’ findings, and then I’ll explain how you can use this information to be a better agent for Gen Z buyers.
The Better Homes and Gardens study
The following were key takeaways from this ground-breaking study:
- Gen Z is very traditional in its views toward homeownership.
- 97 percent believe they will own a home, and 82 percent report that homeownership is the most important factor in achieving the American dream.
- 53 percent would be willing to give up social media for a year if it meant getting their ideal home in the future.
- 95 percent will take key steps in the homebuying process online, although 81 percent would work with a real estate agent rather than buying a house online.
- Even though all the survey respondents were still teenagers at the time of this survey, they plan on purchasing their first home by the time they are age 28. They are also realistic about the costs they will pay. (They believed their first home on average would cost $274,323; the median home price was $273,500 at the time of the study).
- They are savers — 61 percent have already started saving money, and 57 percent believe mom and dad will help them buy their first home.
- Unlike the millennials who like to move, on average, Gen Zers plan on only owning two homes in their lifetimes.
The Wright State University research
Key findings from Corey Seemiller and Meghan Grace of Wright State University include:
- Gen Z views the world as a scary, post-9/11 place where shootings are common and good people who do everything right can lose their jobs and their homes. Because of that, security and safety are important to them.
- They tend to be more “we” instead of “me.”
- They are highly entrepreneurial.
- They are the most diverse generation in history and have positive attitudes toward diversity.
- They are cautious with finances, always looking for the best deals and the best value.
- They seek to impact the broader community of issues such as education, employment and the environment.
- They care about social issues such as support for marriage equality and civil rights. They tend to lean left on social issues and center to right on financial issues.
- They are multi-taskers who consume information in snippets.
How to apply this to your real estate business
Given that the oldest members of Gen Z are 22 and are eager to become homeowners by age 28, how can you capitalize on this trend now to build your business for decades to come?
1. Take advantage of your relationships with Gen Z parents
The best way to reach Gen Zers today is through their parents because they like and trust them. Go through your client list, and identify which of your clients have children ages 7 to 22.
For parents with young children, meet with them to explain how purchasing an investment condo or a two- to four-unit building can pay for their child’s college education as well as generating income for their retirement.
The secret is to purchase a property with positive cash flow and to pay if off within 10-15 years.
For parents whose children are in college or who have already entered the workplace, share resources that can help their child achieve homeownership as soon as possible.
Items to include are how to build a strong credit score, sources for down payment assistance and grants (see Down Payment Resource), as well as information from a local CPA or attorney that explains how to set up the ownership to best capitalize on current tax law.
2. Remember that security and safety matter
A big issue for Gen Z is safety and security. You can use tools such as HomeDisclosure to identify the neighborhoods with the best combination of schools, low crime rate and healthy environments that are free from radon and located away from brownfields, toxic sites or other types of environmental risks.
3. Help them shop for the best deal
Provide them with the next generation of artificial intelligence (AI) tools that allow them to compare which houses are the best fit for their lifestyle as well as the new predictive analytics tools that will allow them to see which properties are most likely to gain or retain their value. (Resources include House Canary, TLCengine and Weiss Analytics.)
You will also want to demonstrate how to use an amortization calculator so that they can understand the financial consequences of obtaining various types of loans, especially if they can qualify for a 15-year rather than a 30-year mortgage.
4. Focus on value
To attract Gen Zers, shift from your unique selling proposition (USP) to a unique value proposition (UVP). Your UVP must reach beyond just the services you provide.
Gen Zers care deeply about making the world a better place. You can often meet them at charity fundraising walks, working on a Habitat house or traveling outside the U.S. to help others in need. Get involved, and get acquainted.
5. Keep it simple
Gen Zers love to do research, but they have a text-messaging, Instagram mindset. Educate them with images, videos and short snippets of content.
6. Have fun
When you’re transparent, when their parents like you and when everyone knows that you’re working hard to put your Gen Z buyers in their first home, you are laying the groundwork for attracting Gen Z clients for many years to come.
Bernice Ross, CEO of RealEstateCoach.com, is a national speaker, author and trainer with over 1,000 published articles and two best-selling real estate books. Learn about her training programs at www.RealEstateCoach.com/