Donald W. Reynolds National Center For Business Journalism

Two Minute Tips

Five tips for covering real estate and economic development

July 6, 2015

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Covering real estate and economic development can seem intimidating, particularly from a money angle. There is a lot of math involved and almost everyone in the community is actively interested in how the market looks. Readers, business owners and most in-between have a roof over their head and your stories will affect them. Here are our top five tips for reporting on real estate and economic development:

1. Check out model homes and open houses.

One of the best ways to understand a business is to immerse yourself into it. Real estate is no exception. Find model homes and attend open houses to find out who is buying, what they’re buying and other valuable story tips.

2. Do your homework and read the reports.

They may be long and possibly boring, but one of your biggest assets as a real estate reporter is the never-ending supply of reports. In them you can find how the market is doing, what the schedule of upcoming meetings looks like and other valuable resources. Read through them to find large-scale national stories that you can narrow done to your readers’ location.

3. Pay attention to trends, but don’t get caught up in them.

It’s been said before: real estate is a cyclical business, wait for the market to come back around, etc. etc. However true this may be some of the time, it’s not always a fact. Study trends and ask your sources for historical context. You can even look to your own reporting to find patterns or discrepancies.

4. Renters matter, too.

Though renting seems less glamorous or hard-hitting as home ownership, it is a growing trend that deserves attention. Jonathan Lansner, a reporter at The Orange County Register, estimates 40 percent of Americans live in rentals and it’s been predicted that number will grow.

5. Get into the specifics.

Your readers deserve to know as much about their options as possible. Buying a home is a huge investment and they look to you for a specific and third-party look into the market. Include things like insurance, flight patterns, surrounding shopping areas, schools and road developments.

Want more? Download our “Guide to Business Beat Basics” for tips on covering money in real estate, economic development and other beats.

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