They’re the new kids on the block, but the housing habits of Generation Z have remained a mystery. Until recently.
As more members of the generation reach adulthood, researchers are beginning to get an insight into the property preferences of Australia’s newest renters and homeowners.
Who are they?
Born between 1995 and 2009, Generation Z is the first generation born into a world where technology is omnipresent, with the internet, smartphones and social media an indispensable part of everyday life.
Currently aged between nine and 23, there are more than two billion members of Generation Z on the planet, with 4.5 million in Australia.
Generation Z has been “shaped in the era that society started looking at screens more than at faces”, according to Sydney-based research firm McCrindle.
They’re tech-savvy, digitally connected, social, and also more formally educated than other generations before them.
A ‘highly mobile generation’
Generation Z will be a “highly mobile generation”, moving through up to five careers, 17 jobs and 15 homes in their lifetime, McCrindle social researcher Ashley Fell says.
“They are and will continue to be constantly on the go, moving from place to place,” she says.
After watching their older siblings struggle to find work in a world where the ‘gig economy’ became mainstream Generation Zs are entrepreneurial and used to a world of flexible, freelance work.
The housing habits of Gen Z
Generation Zs eschew traditional media like newspapers and TV, so searching property listings online and conducting their own research into the market will be second nature.
“The real estate industry will certainly have to adapt and be responsive to this emerging generation’s needs,” Ms Fell says.
Potential innovations include the replacement of traditional payments with cryptocurrencies, and the widespread use of virtual reality as a tool for buying and selling properties.
According to a new report by Melbourne-based buyer’s agency Secret Agent, the rise of the generation could signal major changes for real estate agents, as digitally savvy youngsters gravitate towards online tools available at their fingertips.
“Their skepticism of the industry at large may mean they look for other more direct ways to buy and sell property without third-party agents,” Secret Agent says.
Generation Rent Mk. 2
In a departure from previous generations, Generation Z will prioritise work and lifestyle over real estate, seeking out properties in “well connected areas” close to where they work.
According to a 2015 Neilson poll, 52 per cent of Generation Z respondents wanted to live in a big city.
Millennials – Australia’s so-called “generation rent” – are currently struggling with housing affordability, with would-be first-home buyers unable to break into the property market, and rental stress common across the nation.
A dearth of affordable homes will continue to be a fundamental issue for Generation Z, with many living with parents for longer, renting rather than buying, and occupying smaller homes.
“They are more likely to rent than own a home, and are more likely to be living in vertical communities in apartments than detached homes,” Ms Fell says.
Yet the true impact of Generation Z on the housing market remains to be seen, Secret Agent says.
“At the moment it seems that they may compete with the downsizing market for apartment stock, however many won’t have the resources to compete with them.”