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More Gen Zers Than Millennials Will Own Homes, Experts Say

The preference to own rather than rent and student loan burdens are expected to be the determining factors either way

- The U.S. homeownership rate for 35- to 44-year-olds has fallen from 66% to 60% since 2009

- In a survey of 110 economists and real estate experts conducted by Pulsenomics and Zillow, panelists most often expect the homeownership rate among this age group to increase by 2035, when the oldest Gen Z members will turn 40

- Panelists often agree that preference to own instead of rent and student loan burdens will be important factors, but disagree about how they will trend in the next 15 years

- On average, panelists expect home values to grow 2.8% next year, up from 2.5% expected growth for 2020 when surveyed a year ago

Dec 16, 2019

SEATTLE, Dec. 16, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- The oldest Millennials, who will turn 40 in 2020, have lived through a turbulent decade of housing marked first by the initial recovery from the Great Recession, then the extraordinary home value growth of recent years. Due in large part to a variety of affordability challenges delaying all sorts of major life milestones, the homeownership rate among young people has fallen significantly over the decade. However, fifteen years from now, Gen Z will age into a more favorable market, according to a panel of economists and real estate experts.

The Zillow® Home Price Expectations Surveyi, sponsored by Zillow and conducted quarterly by Pulsenomics LLC, asks more than 100 economists, investment strategists and real estate experts for their predictions about the U.S. housing market. The Q4 survey also asked panelists about their expectations for future homeownership rates.

The U.S. homeownership rate has climbed to 64.8%ii, matching highs from recent years after bottoming out at 62.9% in 2016. Still, this is a far cry from all-time highs near 70% that were last reached in 2004 when the housing bubble was in full swing.

When home values were in their trough, younger would-be buyers were suffering from having graduated into a recession with record levels of student debt. Down payment assistance some of their parents may have otherwise offered by drawing from their home's equity had been seriously eroded by crashing prices. Then as home values exploded over 2017 and 2018, this generation had trouble affording a down payment – especially buyers looking to get into their first home – and stayed in the rental market. Largely for these reasons, the homeownership rate for 35- to 44-year-olds has fallen from 66% to 60% in the past decade.

Experts surveyed by Zillow most often expect the homeownership rate among 35- to 44-year-olds to be somewhat higher in 2035 – 38% said so, while 31% said it will be somewhat lower than the current rate and 20% said it will be about the same. Only a small share of experts expects a dramatic swing in either direction – 4% said the homeownership rate among this age group will be much lower 15 years from now, and 7% said it will be much higher.

Experts tend to agree that the preference to own instead of rent and student loan burdens will be major factors in how the homeownership rate trends, but they disagree on the direction they will move. Of those who expect the homeownership rate to increase, more people preferring to own instead of rent and the home supply being less constrained were tied for the most-cited reason for the jump, closely followed by an expectation that student loan burdens will diminish. Those who predict the homeownership rate will decrease most often cited the opposite – a smaller share of households will want to own their home and student loan burdens will be greater.

"The uncertainty of housing experts is tied up in the fact that this past decade has been anything but normal," said Zillow Director of Economic Research Skylar Olsen. "When experiencing unfamiliar dynamics, we must ask whether we will eventually revert to historic patterns or if pillars like preferences, affordability, policy and technology have shifted sufficiently to make this the new normal. Some of the reasons cited by experts as drivers of the future homeownership rate are big and exciting bets, including a belief by many that the home supply will be less constrained. Will more jurisdictions up-zone suburban neighborhoods to allow for smaller units and greater density? Will pre-fab construction take off? Will more big companies relocate headquarters or open satellites in more affordable metros? Time will ultimately have to tell. But in the meantime, it's fun to speculate."

The experts project that U.S. home prices will increase by an average of 2.8% during 2020. This is a slightly more optimistic outlook than the 2.5% rate the panel projected for 2020 both last quarter and one year ago, but lower than the 3.6% growth expected for 2019.

Pulsenomics Founder Terry Loebs underscored that while the panel's average expectation for home value growth may appear benign, that figure masks a range of predictions that has continued to widen over the past decade. Loebs said, "We're in the eighth year of the supposed housing recovery, but persistent uncertainty about the relative appeal and affordability of homeownership, future housing policies and supply trends leaves the experts far from a consensus." 

The experts' predictions for nationwide home prices in 2020 range from 7.4% growth to 3.0% contraction, and increased divergence in longer-run expectations also confirms that market conditions remain far from settled. "Our most optimistic group of experts expects 31.2% cumulative home value appreciation through 2024, while our most pessimistic group expects a cumulative gain of just 7.8% over the same period," Loebs explained. "In dollar terms, the difference between these equally plausible scenarios is almost $7 trillion in aggregate home equity value. We've been conducting this survey for more than ten years, and this barometer of housing market malaise is now at a record-high level."

In 2035, the homeownership rate among 35- to 44-year-olds will be…

Share of Responses

Much lower


Somewhat lower


About the same


Somewhat higher


Much higher



Reasons most often cited by panelists who expect the 2035 homeownership rate will be HIGHER

Reasons most often cited by panelists who expect the 2035 homeownership rate will be LOWER

The home supply will be less constrained

The preference to own (vs. rent) will be less

The preference to own (vs. rent) will be greater

Student loan burdens will be higher

Student loan burdens will lessen

Policy changes will discourage homeownership

Living and working in less costly areas will be more appealing

Real gains in home prices will outpace incomes

Policies conducive to greater homeownership will be adopted

The home supply will be more constrained

About Zillow
Zillow® is transforming how people buy, sell, rent and finance homes by creating seamless real estate transactions for today's on-demand consumer. Zillow is the leading real estate and rental marketplace and a trusted source for data, inspiration and knowledge among both consumers and real estate professionals. 

Zillow's proprietary data, technology and industry partnerships put Zillow at nearly every major point of the home shopping experience, helping consumers search for and get into their new home faster. Zillow now offers a fully integrated home shopping experience that includes access to for sale and rental listings, Zillow Offers®, which provides a new, hassle-free way to buy and sell eligible homes directly through Zillow; and Zillow Home Loans, Zillow's affiliated lender that provides an easy way to receive mortgage pre-approvals and financing. Zillow Premier Agent instantly connects buyers and sellers with its network of real estate professionals to help guide them through the home shopping process. For renters, Zillow's innovations are streamlining the way people search, tour, apply and pay rent for leased properties. 

In addition to, Zillow operates the most popular suite of mobile real estate apps, with more than two dozen apps across all major platforms. Launched in 2006, Zillow is owned and operated by Zillow Group, Inc. (NASDAQ:Z and ZG) and headquartered in Seattle.

Zillow and Zillow Offers are registered trademarks of Zillow, Inc.

About Pulsenomics
Pulsenomics LLC ( is an independent research firm that specializes in data analytics, opinion research, new product and index development for institutional clients in the financial and real estate arenas. Pulsenomics also designs and manages expert surveys and consumer polls to identify trends and expectations that are relevant to effective business management and monitoring economic health. Pulsenomics LLC is the author of The Home Price Expectations Survey™, The U.S. Housing Confidence Survey, The Housing Confidence Index, and The Transaction Sentiment Index. Pulsenomics® , The Housing Confidence Index™, The Transaction Sentiment Index™, and The Housing Confidence Survey™ are trademarks of Pulsenomics LLC.

i This edition of the Zillow Home Price Expectations Survey surveyed 110 experts between October 30, 2019 and November 14, 2019. The survey was conducted by Pulsenomics LLC on behalf of Zillow, Inc. The Zillow Home Price Expectations Survey and any related materials are available through Zillow and Pulsenomics.
ii Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Survey/Housing Vacancy Survey, October 29, 2019.



For further information: Alex Lacter, Zillow,