Zillow Research Shows that More Gen Z Adults are Moving into Rental Homes

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FREMONT, CA: Rental concessions, such as a free month's rent, appear to be luring Gen Z out of their parents' basements and back into the rental market. New Zillow research finds more Gen Z adults, ages 18 to 25, who had been living with family or friends say they're now renting, and most say they got a better deal on their new rental.

A Zillow survey finds more than 34 percent of Gen Z renters who moved in the past year say they moved from the home of a family member or friend. That's up from 20 percent who reported the same in an April survey.

As for renters who moved from a previous rental within the past year, most aren't saving money. More than 51 percent report paying more than before, and 14 percent report paying the same. Nationwide, the typical monthly rent was up 0.9 percent in September, but lower than last year in seven major metro areas, including Austin and Chicago. Still, 57 percent of Gen Z renters cite finding a better deal on rent as a reason for their move, suggesting they're trading up.

"What we're seeing is that renters who might have been in a small apartment are instead looking at larger units maybe a two-bedroom instead of a one-bedroom," said Zillow Premier Agent Kenny Truong, founder of Fast Real Estate in the San Francisco Bay Area. "Some others are moving to a rental with a view or a yard for a similar price."

Nearly half of Gen Z renters, 49 percent, indicated they were motivated to move because their new rental offered promotions or concessions, like a free month of rent, free parking, or a reduced security deposit.

Rental concessions climbed from 16 percent to 30 percent between January and August. Since then, the share of rentals offering concessions has stabilized at around 34 percent nationally in October, with notable exceptions. More than half of rental listings in Washington, D.C., Charlotte, and San Jose offered some kind of concession in October.

Concessions Often Add Up to Significant Savings for Renters

Concessions offered in six large markets (Boston, Chicago, Indianapolis, New York, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C.) amounted to savings equal to two months free rent assuming a year-long lease (16.7 percent off total rent). In all 50 of the largest markets, the minimum median savings rate was 8.3 percent or higher.

"The effective savings rate is what renters would save on their typical housing costs over the course of their lease because of both lower rent prices and concessions," said Zillow economist Joshua Clark. "Those savings could be enough to cover the cost difference between a one-bedroom and a two-bedroom unit. Plus, if these Gen Z renters who moved home retained their jobs through the pandemic, they've likely saved enough to afford a larger or more desirable apartment."

The return of tech-savvy Gen Z renters to the market is also reflected in the rise in demand for digital rental tools, like Zillow 3D home tours. Zillow's recent survey found renters were more likely to agree that 3D and unassisted technology would help with their home search, compared to Zillow's findings in April 2020. More than six out of 10 of Gen Z renters who moved in the past year say they wished more listings offered a 3D tour, and agree that 3D tours would help give them a better feel for a space than static photos 64 percent.

This survey data shows positive momentum for Gen Z renters, but young adults continue to face higher unemployment rates and an uncertain future.

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