According to a new report that identifies the Top 10 states to which Gen Zers are moving, Texas was the runaway winner. Photo via Getty Images

A new population analysis by real estate marketplace Zillow has pegged the Lone Star State as the No. 1 destination for adults born between 1996 and 2004 – also known as Gen Z.

Using data from the 2022 U.S. Census Bureau, the report identifies the Top 10 states to which Gen Zers are moving, and Texas was the runaway winner – far outranking No. 2 destination, California, with 76,805 Gen Z movers, versus California's 43,913.

Reasons for moving vary, but the report says young adults from 18 to 24 years old may prefer to live in states with high performing job markets, especially in a place like San Antonio where one of the nation's top employers resides. San Antonio is also a great place for remote work, according to estimations by Forbes.

Favorable weather also may play a factor in the high migration of Gen Z'ers, the report suggests. Texas' mostly year-round sunshine makes it more attractive to younger crowds who are looking for fun activities around the state, not to mention the advantageous impact on dating opportunities.

Other top states with high influx of Gen Z movers include Washington (No. 5), which added over 33,500 Gen Z movers in 2022, and Colorado (No. 6) with less than 31,000 new Gen Z residents.

Their least favorite destination was Michigan, and the Northeast also ranked poorly, with four New England states – Vermont, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, and Maine – all in the bottom 10.

State with a high cost-of-living like Washington, Colorado, and Virginia (No. 7) are places where young adults are more likely to have a bachelor's degree, work in tech, or serve in the military, according to Zillow principal population scientist Edward Berchick.

However, becoming a homeowner is much more difficult, as the report found 77 percent of the Gen Z workers in these states are renters.

"Gen Z movers are likely drawn to the job opportunities in these states, despite the higher costs of housing," Berchick explains. "They may also be in a stage of life where they're willing and able to be flexible in their standards of living while starting their careers."

The top 10 states for Gen Z movers are:

  • No. 1 – Texas
  • No. 2 – California
  • No. 3 – Florida
  • No. 4 – North Carolina
  • No. 5 – Washington
  • No. 6 – Colorado
  • No. 7 – Virginia
  • No. 8 – Illinois
  • No. 9 – Georgia
  • No. 10 – Arizona

The full report can be found on zillow.mediaroom.com.

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

Pandemic or not, homeownership in Houston has broken some records recently.Photo by Ariel Skelley/Getty

Report: Houston homeownership rate reaches 15-year high

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Propelled in large part by rock-bottom interest rates for mortgages, the homeownership rate in Houston is knocking on the door of its highest level in at least 10 years.

An August 12 report from the Texas A&M Real Estate Center shows that in the second quarter of 2020, the Houston metro area experienced its highest homeownership rate since the center started recording the regional rate in 2005. The area's homeownership rate was 68.2 percent in the second quarter of this year, up from 65.5 percent in the previous quarter and up from a low of 57.6 percent in the fourth quarter of 2017.

The upward trend mirrors what's happening statewide. In June, Texas' homeownership rate hit a new high mark.

According to the report, a record 67.5 percent of Texans owned their homes in the second quarter of this year, up from 64.5 percent in the first quarter and from the record low of 60.8 percent in the fourth quarter of 1997.

"Despite falling sales in April and May, Texas' second-quarter homeownership rate was the highest since recordkeeping began in 1996. Texas now lags the national rate by only half a percent, the smallest in eight years," James Gaines, the center's chief economist, says in an August 12 release.

Here's how the numbers break down in the state's other large cities:

Among the state's four major metro areas, Austin saw the steepest climb in the homeownership rate. The rate jumped to 65.3 percent during the second quarter of 2020 from 59.4 percent in the previous quarter. Since the real estate center began tracking Austin's homeownership rate in 1996, the highest rate was 69.3 percent in the third quarter of 2006 and the lowest rate was 49.2 percent in the fourth quarter of 1996.

The homeownership rate in DFW hit 64.7 percent in the second quarter of this year. That's up from 62.7 percent in the first quarter of 2020 and slightly below the high mark of 65 percent in the first quarter of 2010. The real estate center started tracking DFW's homeownership rate in 2005.

In the San Antonio area, the second-quarter homeownership rate was sandwiched between its highest-ever and lowest-ever rates since 1996. The rate for this year's second quarter stood at 66.2 percent, up from 66 percent in the previous quarter. Since 1996, the highest rate was 76 percent the fourth quarter of 2004 and the lowest rate was 56.3 percent in the first quarter of 1996.

Spikes in homeownership rates across the state's four major metro areas came despite a recent jump in median sale prices. Real estate platform Zillow reports that as of the end of June, the median sale price of a single-family home was:

  • $256,400 in Houston, up 1.7 percent from the same time a year ago.
  • $246,753 in San Antonio, up 3.8 percent from the same time a year ago.
  • $289,000 in DFW, up 2.3 percent from the same time a year ago.
  • $342,345 in Austin, up 3.7 percent from the same time a year ago.

Gaines says pent-up demand and record-low mortgage rates pushed statewide home sales up 29.4 percent in June.

"Texas homes are selling at a record pace. A dwindling supply of active listings and a resurgence in home sales pulled Texas' months of inventory down to an all-time low of 2.8 months," according to the real estate center's report.

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

In Houston, you can get the most house for the buck among the country's biggest metro areas. Photo by TK Images

Houston boasts the best home values among major U.S. metros, according to new report

The price is right

In Houston, you can get the most house for the buck among the country's biggest metro areas, a new study shows.

The study, recently published by Austin-based online insurance marketplace The Zebra, indicates you can purchase a 1,935-square-foot home in the Houston metro area at the U.S. median sale price. In 2019, that price was $239,900, according to Zillow data analyzed by The Zebra.

The study calculated how much square footage you can afford in the 10 largest metros in the U.S., based on Zillow's calculations for median home price per square foot.

In 2019, the median price of a single-family home in the Houston area was $245,800, up from $238,800 in 2018, according to the National Association of Realtors. A record 86,205 single-family homes were sold across the Houston area in 2019, up 4.8 percent from the previous record of 82,229 in 2018, the Houston Association of Realtors says.

"It's great to see Houston at the top of this study, as the Bayou City has been one of the most of the most affordable cities in the United States," says Paige Martin, leader of the Houston Properties Team at Keller Williams Realty. "The Houston metro area is adding more residents each year than the entire population of Pittsburgh. A big reason for that is the cost of living is so much lower than other major cities in the U.S."

In terms of large houses, Martin continues to see high demand for bigger properties from a lot of homebuyers, particularly millennials and Generation Y members.

"These homebuyers typically grew up in smaller homes than what they're seeking now," she says, "and they're drawn to the benefits of every child having their own bedroom, designated play areas, and large and expansive kitchens for family gatherings and entertainment."

"Fortunately, Houston can accommodate this," Martin adds, "as the city is blessed with so many top-ranked suburbs that have low land costs."

Meanwhile, Dallas is No. 3 on the list. In 2019, the median price of a single-family home in Dallas-Fort Worth was $268,000, up from $260,000 the previous year, according to the National Association of Realtors. In a report covering January 2020, the MetroTex Association of Realtors said year-over-year sales of single-family homes were up 21 percent, while the total dollar volume climbed 32 percent to nearly $1.98 billion.

In December, Realtor.com predicted home prices in Dallas-Fort Worth would decline 0.5 percent this year compared with 2019.

"The North Texas housing market has come off of several record-breaking years," Cathy Mitchell, 2019 president of the MetroTex Association of Realtors, said in December. "A slight self-correction in the market compared to what we have experienced the last few years was expected and could prove to be beneficial in balancing our market with more quality inventory."

In The Zebra's study, here's how the mega-metros stack up in terms of how much square footage you can purchase at the U.S. median home price:

1. Houston, 1,935 square feet
2. Atlanta, 1,817 square feet
3. Dallas-Fort Worth, 1,726 square feet
4. Philadelphia, 1,589 square feet
5. Chicago, 1,463 square feet
6. Miami, 1,043 square feet
7. Washington, D.C., 1,012 square feet
8. Boston, 789 square feet
9. Los Angeles, 540 square feet
10. New York City, 361 square feet

"New York, L.A., and Boston may not be enough elbow room for you, but Houston, Atlanta, and Dallas will get you the most bang for your buck," The Zebra says.

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

A new service from Zillow helps Houston sellers get cash fast. Photo courtesy of HAR

Houston homeowners first in Texas to showcase Zillow's new cash offer homebuying program

Selling solution

Local car owners looking to rid themselves of their ride know the no-hassle ease that CarMax and TrueAuto offer. But what about those looking to quickly unload their home? Fortunately, a new service has made it easier for homeowners to score some fast funds from their domiciles.

Houstonians can now use a new program from real estate marketplace Zillow to sell their home. With Zillow Offers, local sellers can request a free, no-obligation cash offer. Once the seller accepts, they can pick a close date that works best for them.

The idea is to give consumers more control and certainty in the home-selling process and allows sellers the opportunity to sell their house on their own timeline, according to a statement. Zillow notes that timing the sale of a home with the purchase of a new one is a top concern for sellers and that 61 percent of sellers are buying a new home at the same time, which adds significant stress and financial complexity to the process.

Houston is the first Texas market and the seventh market nationwide where Zillow directly buys homes, prepares them for showings, and quickly lists them for resale.

Zillow Offers is currently available in Phoenix; Las Vegas; Atlanta; Denver; Charlotte, North Carolina; and Raleigh, North Carolina. Zillow Offers has also announced plans to launch in Dallas; Miami; Minneapolis; Orlando, Florida; Portland, Oregon; Nashville, Tennessee; Riverside, California by fall 2019.

"Texas is home to some of the largest and most vibrant housing markets in the country, and we're thrilled to bring Zillow Offers to Houston today," says Zillow brand president, Jeremy Wacksman, in a statement. "In just nine months, Zillow Offers has already helped thousands of homeowners sell their home in a simple and stress-free way."

While direct-sell in theory, local real estate agents are still very much part of the Zillow Offers process. The service works with local agents and brokers on every transaction and pays commission to agents when it buys and sells each home, according a Zillow release.

"What we've overwhelmingly heard from these consumers is that they love the control we give them over the entire process," Wacksman says. "Starting today, Houston-area homeowners are able to use this innovative, consumer-first service for one of the largest financial transactions of their lives."

The program also gives local brokerages and premier agents the opportunity to acquire new listings by connecting them with motivated sellers who have taken a direct action to sell their home, according to Zillow. These motivated sellers who request a Zillow Offer, but opt instead sell their house traditionally with an agent or do not receive a Zillow Offer, will still be connected with a local brokerage or agent.

In a city where certain neighborhoods are moving a blistering pace, this new program could be an easy sell for savvy homeowners.

More and more real estate companies are using technology for the homebuying and selling process. Houston-based Entera uses machine learning, for instance, in the process, and Offerpad, an ibuyer, recently announced its expansion to Houston.

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

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Houston tech platform raises series C round backed by Mastercard

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Hello Alice, a fintech platform that supports 1.5 million small businesses across the country, has announced its series C round.

The amount raised was not disclosed, but Hello Alice reported that the fresh funding has brought the company's valuation to $130 million. Alexandria, Virginia-based QED Investors led the round, and investors included Mastercard, Backstage Capital, Guy Fieri, Golden Seeds, Harbert Growth Partners Fund, How Women Invest I, LP, Lovell Limited Partnership, Tyler “Ninja” and Jessica Blevins, and Tamera Mowry and Adam Housley, per a news release from the company.

“We are thrilled to hit the milestone of 1.5 million small businesses utilizing Hello Alice to elevate the American dream. There are more entrepreneurs launching this year than in the history of our country, and we will continue to ensure they get the capital needed to grow,” Elizabeth Gore and Carolyn Rodz, co-founders of Hello Alice, say in a news release. “In closing our Series C, we welcome Mastercard to our family of investors and continue to be grateful to QED, How Women Invest, and our advocates such as Guy Fieri.”

The funding will go toward expanding capital offerings and AI-driven tools for its small business membership.

“Our team focuses on finding and investing in companies that are obsessed with reducing friction and providing superior financial services solutions to their customers,” QED Investors Co-Founder Frank Rotman says in the release. “Hello Alice has proven time and time again that they are on the leading edge of providing equitable access to capital and banking services to the small business ecosystem."

Hello Alice, which closed its series B in 2021 at $21 million, has collaborated with Mastercard prior to the series C, offering small business owners the Hello Alice Small Business Mastercard in 2022 and a free financial wellness tool, Business Health Score, last year. Mastercard also teamed up with other partners for the the Equitable Access Fund in 2023.

“With Hello Alice, we’re investing to provide support to small business owners as they look to access capital, helping to address one of the most cited business challenges they face,” Ginger Siegel, Mastercard's North America Small Business Lead, adds. “By working together to simplify access to the products and services they need when building and growing their business, we’re helping make a meaningful impact on the individuals who run their businesses, the customers they serve, and our communities and economy at large.”

While Hello Alice's founders' mission is to help small businesses, their own company was threatened by a lawsuit from America First Legal. The organization, founded by former Trump Administration adviser Stephen Miller and features a handful of other former White House officials on its board, is suing Hello Alice and its partner, Progressive Insurance. The lawsuit alleges that their program to award10 $25,000 grants to Black-owned small businesses constitutes racial discrimination. Gore calls the lawsuit frivolous in an interview on the Houston Innovators Podcast. The legal battle is ongoing.

Inspired by the lawsuit, Hello Alice launched the Elevate the American Dream, a grant program that's highlighting small businesses living out their American dreams. The first 14 grants have already been distributed, and Hello Alice plans to award more grants over the next several weeks, putting their grant funding at over $40 million.


NASA awards $30M to Houston space tech company to develop lunar rover

moon rider

Houston-based space technology company Intuitive Machines has landed a $30 million NASA contract for the initial phase of developing a rover for U.S. astronauts to traverse the moon’s surface.

Intuitive Machines is one of three companies chosen by NASA to perform preliminary work on building a lunar terrain vehicle that would enable astronauts to travel on the moon’s surface so they can conduct scientific research and prepare for human missions to Mars.

The two other companies are Golden, Colorado-based Lunar Outpost and Hawthorne, California-based Astrolab.

NASA plans to initially use the vehicle for its Artemis V lunar mission, which aims to put two astronauts on the moon. It would be the first time since the Apollo 17 mission in 1972 that astronauts would step foot on the lunar surface.

The Artemis V mission, tentatively set for 2029, will be the fifth mission under NASA’s Artemis program.

“This vehicle will greatly increase our astronauts’ ability to explore and conduct science on the lunar surface while also serving as a science platform between crewed missions,” says Vanessa Wyche, director of NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.

Intuitive Machines says the $30 million NASA contract represents its entrance into human spaceflight operations for the space agency’s $4.6 billion moon rover project. The vehicle — which Intuitive Machines has dubbed the Moon Reusable Autonomous Crewed Exploration Rover (RACER) — will be based on the company’s lunar lander.

“Our global team is on a path to provide essential lunar infrastructure services to NASA in a project that would allow [us] to retain ownership of the vehicle for commercial utilization during periods of non-NASA activity over approximately 10 years of lunar surface activity,” says exploration,” says Steve Altemus, CEO of Intuitive Machines.

Intuitive Machines’ partners on the RACER project include AVL, Boeing, Michelin, and Northrop Grumman.

Intuitive Machines plans to bid on the second phase of the rover project after finishing its first-phase feasibility study. The second phase will involve developing, delivering, and operating the rover.

In February, Intuitive Machines became the first private company to land a spacecraft on the moon with no crewmembers aboard. NASA was the key customer for that mission.

Houston expert: How to avoid 'ghost hiring' while attracting top talent

guest column

One of the latest HR terms grabbing attention today is “ghost hiring.” This is a practice where businesses post positions online, even interviewing candidates, with no intention to fill them. In fact, the role may already have been filled or it may not exist.

Usually, an applicant applies for the job, yet never hears back. However, they may be contacted by the recruiter, only to learn the offer is revoked or a recruiter ghosts them after a first-round interview.

Applicants who are scouring job sites for the ideal position can become discouraged by ghost hiring. Employers do not usually have any ill intentions of posting ghost jobs and talking with candidates. Employers may have innocently forgotten to take down the listing after filling the position.

Some employers may leave positions up to expand their talent pool. While others who are open to hiring new employees, even if they do not match the role, may practice ghost hiring when they want a pool of applicants to quickly pull from when the need arises. Finally, some employers post job roles to make it look like the company is experiencing growth.

When employers participate in ghost hiring practices, job candidates can become frustrated, hurting the employer brand and, thus, future recruiting efforts. Even with the tight labor market and employee turnover, it is best not to have an evergreen posting if there is no intention to hire respondents.

There are several ways employers can engage candidates and, likewise, build a talent pool without misleading job seekers.

Network

A recruiter at their core is a professional networker. This is a skill that many have honed through the years, and it continues to evolve through social media channels. While many recruiters lean on social media, you should not discount meeting people face-to-face. There is power in promoting your organization at professional meetings, alumni groups and civic organizations. Through these avenues, many potential candidates will elect for you to keep them in mind for future opportunities.

Employee Referrals

When recruiters want to deepen their talent pool, they cannot discount the employee referral. Simply letting employees know and clearly stating the exploratory nature of the conversation can lead to stellar results. Employees understand the organization, its culture and expectations, so they are more likely to refer the company to someone who would be a good fit and reflect highly on them.

Alternative Candidates

In recent years, organizations and recruiters are more dialed into skills-first recruiting practices. Creating job postings that emphasize the skill sets needed rather than the years of experience, specific college degree or previous job titles, can yield a crop of candidates who may be more agile and innovative than others. Fostering relationships with people who fit unique skills needed within the organization can help you develop a deeper bench of candidates.

Contingent Workforce

Part-time workers, freelancers, and independent contractors are a great way to build connections and the talent pool. These workers and their skills are known entities, plus they know the organization, which makes them valuable candidates for open roles. If their expertise is needed on a regular basis, it is easier to have open conversations about a potential expansion of their duties or offer full-time work.

Internal Talent

Human resources and recruiters need to work with managers and leadership to intimately know what kind of talent lies within their own organization. Current employees may have the strengths, skills, and capabilities to fill new positions or roles. Through conversations with employees and their managers, you can identify who can flex different skills, but even more importantly, the ambition to grow within the company.

In every instance, it is crucial for recruiters and hiring managers to be transparent in their intentions. Communicating within your network that you are always looking for great talent to fill future roles sets the tone. When communicating with candidates, whether there is a pressing job opportunity or not, be clear from the onset regarding your intentions for hire. With a transparent approach to hiring and candidate development, you will keep the employer brand intact and maintain recruiting power.

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Jaune Little is a director of recruiting services with Insperity.