The Real Deal Chicago

Generation Z is bullish on homeownership, despite weight of college debt

A survey found 83 percent of Americans ages 18-23 expect to buy a home within 5 years
By Alex Nitkin | September 12, 2018 03:00PM

(Credit: iStock)

Millennials might be scaling back their hopes for homeownership, but the generation behind them is dreaming big.

More than eight in 10 adult members of Generation Z, the oldest of whom were born in 1995, said they expect to buy a home within the next five years, according to new survey results from PropertyShark.

Survey respondents between ages 18 and 23 also said on average they expect to pay $37,000 for their next down payment, and their ideal home would be 2,081 square feet. Millennials who were surveyed — defined here as those born between 1981 and 1994 — were less hopeful, expecting to lay down $41,000 and idealizing homes around 1,883 square feet.

PropertyShark cites a MarketWatch estimate that about 100,000 members of Gen Z already own homes, and of those only 1.2 percent are more than 60 days late on their mortgage payments. That’s compared to 1.6 percent of Millennial homeowners and 2.3 percent of Generation X.

Nearly a third of Gen Z survey respondents said student debt is their biggest obstacle to homeownership, but only 11 percent expect to spend between five and 10 years saving up for a down payment. About one in five surveyed said they have no money saved whatsoever.

The youngest group also disproportionately said space and amenities were among their highest priorities in looking for a home, while storage and energy efficiency get higher marks from Millennials and Gen Xers.

A majority of respondents younger than 37 listed Los Angeles among their “dream destinations” to buy a home, while members of Generation X leaned more toward Chicago. All three age groups listed New York and Miami as ideal future home cities.

A July report by Inman found just 22 percent of Millennials see real estate as an “ideal investment,” as mounting debt puts homeownership further out of reach.

But Census data last year showed the country’s homeownership rate climbing to 63.9 percent, a potential sign young adults are finally venturing into the housing market.