If millennials are a confusing demographic, wait until Gen Z grows up a little bit. I’ve read a couple of head-scratching studies predicting their intro into the real estate market—one predicted that 83 percent of Gen Z planned to purchase a home within the next five years, and another said that the group is twice as likely to start saving for a home by age 25—even when only about 18 percent are expecting family financial assistance for the big purchase. As someone with a brother six years younger than me, I know firsthand that the kids in college right now are bound to live a very different life than I am now. But these numbers are somewhat baffling to me—considering I am 26 and still don’t think I’ll be able to buy a home in the next five years.
Trying to make sense of this, I turned to the only people I know who bought their first home at 18—Drew and Jonathan Scott, also known as (The Property Brothers)! I caught up with the brothers at an event at Pinterest headquarters in New York City, where they were promoting their new partnership with Chase and the group’s Dream Board tool. We were discussing the foibles of millennial home financing (so-so credit scores!), when I asked them to predict what might be coming up for the up-and-coming generation.
If you’re a fan of the Scotts, you probably know that the pair are not fans of the tiny living phenomenon. A night spent in a tiny home last year only solidified that for the brothers, who have critiqued how the homes are not only ill-designed but also are rarely are up to code. So imagine my surprise when they said that they think this trend will play into a large part of the Gen Z home buying experience.
While the generation won’t be cramming themselves into tiny just for the sake of tiny and might be stepping away from the Airstreams and 250-square-foot trailers, they will be seeking out incredibly well-laid out, smaller spaces that force residents to live more intentionally—a direct contrast to the McMansions of their parents. This goes hand-in-hand with the Realtor.com study that found 61 percent of Gen Z are driven to homeownership because of its customization opportunities.
“It’s more streamlined living instead of giant spaces filled with a bunch of stuff you don’t really need,” Drew said. He also pointed that as technology advances, living in a smaller space becomes easier because it can become multifunctional. So it’s no wonder Gen Z digital natives are looking to test the theory out.
Additionally, the brothers predict that homeownership for Gen Z will also just look entirely different than ever before. For my generation and the ones before me, the single family home was the holy grail. But Gen Z is now more likely to look outside the box for diverse investment opportunities—vacation rentals, multifamily units, or even an accessory dwelling unit in a family member’s back yard.
Drew and Jonathan also think that Gen Zers will likely team up when investing in real estate—just like they did. “We think it’s great to partner with somebody to buy a home whether it’s a family member, spouse, or a friend even,” Jonathan said. “Be open to what opportunities arise and then make the decision.”
Who knows? After speaking with the Pro Bros, partnering with my own bro seems like it may be a good homeownership option!