Understanding their needs, from A to (Gen) Z.
When you think of a first-time homebuyer, the word “millennial” probably comes to mind. And for good reason. Millennials are, after all, America’s largest generation, and they represent the majority of today’s homebuyers. But what about the homebuyers of tomorrow … or two years from now? Generation Z is an up-and-coming group of buyers that’s getting ready to take center stage in the housing market. Are you ready for them?
Generation Z includes those born between 1997 and 2012 (aka “Zoomers”). While Gen Z represented only 2% of homebuyers in 2022, it is an emerging cohort that deserves attention. According to a Homes.com survey, 85% of Gen Zers want to buy a home, and the majority want to do so by age 25-29. Considering that the oldest Gen Zers are already at age 26, that time is coming soon, if not already here!
Adapting your business to the needs of Gen Z buyers requires a different approach than that of millennials. Unlike millennials, Gen Zers are true digital natives who have never lived in a world without technology, internet access, and constant convenience. This has shaped their expectations as consumers, and the homebuying experience won’t be any exception. Here’s what you’ll need to capture and convert the Gen Z homebuyer:
A strong online presence. For Zoomers, daily life takes place on the internet as much as it does IRL (in real life). Being online is a core element of their culture and lifestyle, and they expect brands to meet them there. That means having a well-designed website that’s optimized for SEO (search engine optimization) and an established social media presence. If your online presence needs a boost, here’s a helpful guide for auditing your digital footprint. Remember that building your online presence isn’t a one-and-done activity; regularly publishing content on your website and social pages will keep them fresh and relevant and provide opportunities for Gen Z clients to engage with you.
A focus on education. Many Gen Zers face financial hurdles to homeownership due to mounting student debt, a lack of credit and savings, and rising home prices. For first-time buyers, knowing where to begin can feel daunting. But keep in mind, their digital savviness makes them excellent researchers, so you can bet that they’ll start by doing their homework online. To fill in the gaps, empower Gen Z clients with educational materials, such as info on building credit and savings. Walk them through the homebuying process, introducing them to key terms and milestones. We can also work together to educate Gen Zers on loan programs and dispel any financial misconceptions, like how much is needed for a down payment. This educational service not only helps prepare Gen Z clients to enter the market in a few years, but it also builds your reputation as a trustworthy partner in the process.
A tech-integrated customer experience. A recent survey found that, when choosing a real estate company, 52% of Gen Zers say the overall customer experience is the most important factor, followed by technology at 33%. Gen Z has high expectations for their customer experience, and technology is essential to meeting those expectations. In fact, 67% of Gen Zers said they would consider using an online service or app to buy a home, compared to just 39% of millennials. Leverage tech to deliver speed and convenience (think mobile apps, virtual home tours, and automated communications), and remain accessible and responsive when they have questions. Prioritize transparency and communication, and be specific about what to expect at each stage of the process.
An inclusive culture. According to Pew Research, Gen Z is the most racially and ethnically diverse generation. Nearly half of Gen Z falls into a racial or ethnic minority group (25% Hispanic, 14% Black, 6% Asian, 5% two or more races), while a slim majority (52%) is white. They’re also more likely to be children of immigrants and are on track to be the best-educated generation yet. It should come as no surprise, then, that Gen Z wants to work with brands that address diversity, equity, and inclusion. Authenticity is important above all else, so be sure to clearly communicate your values and highlight where they align with theirs, such as any involvement in social responsibility or social justice initiatives.