Entertaining, Lifestyle

Why Generation Z Prefers Having a Backyard to Smart Home Technology

If you’re thinking about selling your home, consider what features the next generation of home buyers are looking to get out of their homes. Generation Z may be the first truly technology-driven generation than the millennials, but that doesn’t mean Gen-Zers want to pay extra for homes that think for themselves, manage their security and become obsolete in a few years.

Homes.com’s latest survey found that potential Gen-Z homeowners rank backyards big enough to entertain in, open-concept interior designs, garages, hardwood floors, and eco-friendly appliances above smart homes. Only 17% of Homes.com’s sample of young adults age 18 to 24 who plan to buy homes selected smart home technology as one of their top two most desired features.

Homes.com’s research is not the first to find that Generation Z’s familiarity with cyber technology doesn’t translate into a desire for homes equipped with smart home systems. There’s some evidence that Gen-Z’s cyber expertise makes them less rather than more interested in paying extra for the latest smart home features.

Security vs. Privacy

Virtually every smart home design features such security features as video cams, doorbells triggered by video, electronic locks, remote speakers, emergency response automated thermostats, lighting, and doors, all controlled by Alexa and mobile devices that are accessible 24-hours a day.

It’s not surprising that older homeowners value home security more than Generation-Zers, and millennials. A 2019 survey of four generations by the opinion research site Pollfish found that millennials and Generation Z homeowners are less likely than older generations to have smart security systems in their homes than Baby Boomers and members of Generation X.

The Other Side of the Internet

“Another reason the younger contingent does not seem as interested in installing smart security systems seems to be that they are far more interested in creating a healthy home environment than a “smart” one. They want sustainable and all-natural furnishings; they want construction materials without chemicals; they want LED lighting technology; they want energy-efficient windows. They don’t seem to want to be “cool” and “trendy” as the older segment does,” wrote Andrew Arnold, a consultant on how millennials used media in Forbes last year.

Gen-Z’s relatively negative outlook on smart home technology could also reflect a general distrust of how personal data can be used and misused by marketers, politicians, and digital thieves. Just as the best way to preserve an election’s integrity today is to use paper ballots, perhaps the best way to keep personal data safe is to keep it off the Internet and wireless devices as much as possible.

About one-third of Gen-Z respondents viewed the future of the internet as more negative than positive, compared to 21% of millennials and 28% of Gen-Xers. For younger Gen-Z respondents (those aged 15–18), this number was even higher: 37%, reports the digital consulting firm Cognizant.

Women Are More Concerned About Digital Downsides

The Homes.com survey found that 18.6% of Gen-Z male home buyers choose smart home technology as one of the two most import features compared to 13% of Gen-Z women. A recent study by the international research firm GFK Consumer Life found that just one-third of Gen-Z women feel positive about the impact of technology on society. That’s 15 points below the total U.S. average for women and 16 points under millennial women. They are also less likely than their millennial counterparts (66% versus 71%) to want to be “always reachable.” Almost four out of ten Gen-Z women say they worry about personal data getting into the wrong hands.


“Women and moms of Generation Z depend on apps to juggle their many roles in life – but they also know the downsides of tech too well,” said GFK’s Jola Burnett. “Marketers are focusing on new moms of tomorrow and need to approach digital devices and services with care, to be sure their brands are viewed as solution providers – not problem creators. Respecting women’s busy-ness and need for privacy is essential, and bringing simplicity and clarity to everyday problems could make any brand a standout in Gen-Z’s eyes.”

Backyards are Forever

It’s much easier to understand why a backyard big enough to entertain friends with a barbecue and cocktails would appeal to Generation Zers living with parents or in an apartment where it’s hard to find a large enough space to entertain. Backyards also add to a home’s value, making it easier to finance, and the land beneath will appreciate even when the house in front of it grows old and less valuable.

Perhaps that’s why 50% of Homes.com’s male and 57% of female Gen-Zers picked backyards as one of their two “must-haves.”


Steve Cook
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Steve Cook is the editor of the Down Payment Report and provides public relations consulting services to leading companies and non-profits in residential real estate and housing finance. He has been vice president of public affairs for the National Association of Realtors, senior vice president of Edelman Worldwide and press secretary to two members of Congress.