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Gen Z is in the real estate business — and has thoughts on its future

Technological advancements in social media marketing, artificial intelligence and online listings will drive the future of real estate, but making in-person connections will remain integral to the industry, according to Las Vegas-area Generation Z real estate agents getting started in the business.

“I think there is going to be a big step forward in terms of technology and a lot will become virtual,” said Bryan Cornejo, a 21-year-old agent with Realty One Group. “Counter to that argument, I still think it’s very important for people to physically go into a house and see it and feel if it’s something they like. So things like how you look for houses and how you make offers might change, but I think things like touring will still be in person.”

Cornejo is one of four Las Vegas-area Gen Z real estate agents (two residential and two commercial) who spoke to the Las Vegas Review-Journal about where their generation, those born in the late 1990s or early 2000s, will take the industry in a wildly uncertain future with higher mortgage and interest rates to start and potential changes to the industry as a whole following class-action lawsuits against the National Association of Realtors regarding its commission structure.

Both the residential and commercial real estate industries face challenges heading into the future, and with the advancement of technology disrupting virtually every industry, the four said this will be their biggest hurdle, and opportunity moving forward.

Online real estate brokerage Redfin estimates only 6 percent of its agents across the country are under 30 years old, as opposed to 94 percent who are 31 years and older. Nearly half of Redfin’s agents fall between the ages of 51 and 70, meaning the bulk of the industry right now is largely made up of baby boomers (ages 60 to 77) without a viable replacement demographic for the industry.

But part of being a Gen Z real estate agent is taking lessons from the previous generations and incorporating their own ideas into a mix of tactics, said Megan McInerney, 27, an associate vice president for Thill, Dillon & McInerney at Colliers International in Las Vegas.

“I do think in order to be successful in this industry, you do have to adopt some of those older habits. Such as coming into the office every day, being hands on with your clients, I feel like that is still an important part of the role and why I’ve been successful and why a lot of younger brokers don’t last very long in the industry because they don’t want to be hands on.”

McInerney’s colleague Areeba Moten, 28, a senior associate with Colliers, said that there is a flipside to this coin and that older real estate agents risk irrelevancy by not adapting to the times.

“You need to adapt to Gen Z and the likes of technology and get on social media and post on TikTok, LinkedIn and Instagram and incorporate some of those newer generational ways of marketing or you will fall behind,” she said.

Moten added as Gen Z continues to make up more of America’s workforce and transition into management roles, they will get the chance to incorporate more of their ideals into the industry.

“I think the whole idea of work-life balance has changed a lot,” she said. “My generation, we don’t want to be locked into the 9 to 5, we want to have that flexibility and work on the weekends, or work at 8 p.m. and then start later that day, and I think our work will have to accommodate that more moving forward.”

And when it comes to buying homes themselves, Gen Z appears to have gotten a slight jump on homeownership compared with millennials, according to Redfin data. In 2022, a third of 25-year-olds owned homes, compared with 28 percent of millennials when they were 25.

Khloe Hammond, a 22-year-old real estate agent with Platinum Real Estate, said every year their generation will have more buying power and become a bigger piece of the homebuying demographic.

“I definitely see younger Realtors using technology to their advantage as well,” she said. “For things like marketing, and free marketing like TikTok, Instagram and YouTube shorts rather than having to pay to get their names out there, a lot of it is free and available if you know how to use it.”

Hammond, who is mentoring under the guidance of Cami Lincowski, who works with professional athletes in the Las Vegas Valley, said there is most definitely an old school, human element to real estate that is not going anywhere anytime soon.

“It is still really important to have that face-to-face element in the business, and I still don’t think anything beats actually walking through a house, photos are great, but actually seeing the house and getting the feel for it, I don’t think that part of it will ever go away.”

All four agents said they have been able to work with some great mentors within the game, and Cornejo said one of the things he’s learned from being around Merri Perry with Realty One Group, who is president of Las Vegas Realtors, is that the industry is more than just making money and selling homes, and the future of real estate needs to be a sustainable one, which is very important to Gen Z.

“Being involved in the community is very important, you want to support your community,” he said. “And one place I would like to see us take another step is more affordable housing for people and allowing more people to obtain the dream of home ownership. I want to help take real estate in that direction.”

Contact Patrick Blennerhassett at pblennerhassett@reviewjournal.com.

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