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If you think young people are less focused on the housing market than previous generations, you haven’t been paying attention. Generation Z, which roughly encompasses everyone born in 1997 or later, is poised to have a massive impact on real estate, in Calgary and beyond.

“Gen Z enters the real estate market as the largest demographic cohort we have ever experienced,” said Elton Ash, regional executive vice-president for RE/MAX Western Canada.

Generation Z’s impact might not be felt immediately, but it’s just a matter of time. Meanwhile, REALTORS® must keep up with this hard-charging group or be left in the dust.

“Members of Gen Z are digital natives, especially when it comes to homebuying,” said Ash.

“They live, eat and breathe technology. As a Realtor, you must realize that by the time you sit down with them, they have gone online, done their research and know as much or more about the properties available as you do.”

“Calgary and the rest of the province are undergoing a shift from a resource-based economy to one that hinges on knowledge, and Gen Z will receive a huge benefit from that.” – Elton Ash, RE/MAX Western Canada

Agents must be on top of their digital knowledge and understand that Gen Z will be more skeptical than their millennial counterparts. They will demand a seamless and transparent homebuying experience, where they can view their purchase and complete the entire process on a single platform.

Though members of Gen Z are actually more attuned to the idea of owning a home than millennials, the short-term challenge is affordability, and the impact of that challenge can be seen in the Calgary skyline.

“A number of projects originally planned as condos in downtown Calgary switched to rentals, partly in response to the demand from Gen Z,” said Kimberly Poffenroth, vice-president of business development and market analysts (Alberta) for Urban Analytics.

“With the stress test limiting their ability to qualify for a mortgage, they are opting for these cool, purpose-built rentals and biding their time.”

There are currently 20,000 of these rental units in the planning stages in Calgary, with most projects filling up in a matter of months.

While rules and circumstances might force Gen Z to put off that first home purchase, they will make up for lost time in a hurry.

“Gen Zs are highly educated, entrepreneurial and more equipped to snare better-paying jobs down the road,” said Ash.

“Calgary and the rest of the province are undergoing a shift from a resource-based economy to one that hinges on knowledge, and Gen Z will receive a huge benefit from that.”