Donald W. Reynolds National Center For Business Journalism

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Millennials are changing the economy of home buying

August 1, 2018

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Millennials are buying houses later and they’re also bypassing smaller “starter” homes in favor of larger, more expensive homes. (Photo via

When the news cycle slows down, business reporters may actually have time to think about reporting personal finance stories that require a little more legwork.

If so, reporters may want to look at one story that doesn’t get enough of the attention it deserves: the personal finance habits and behavior of Millennial readers, who are your news organization’s emerging readership.

Here’s the first of three stories in a possible series focusing on the home buying habits of Millennials that are changing the real estate landscape. Business reporters can develop this story by looking into one or more of the following angles:

What’s the state of home sales in your area?

Start your reporting by nailing down the statistics on home sales in your area. For that information, head to the website of the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and read up.   Also contact your local and state tax department.

Millennials are buying houses later and they’re also bypassing smaller “starter” homes in favor of larger, more expensive homes. Talk to local realtors: What impact are Millennial buyers having on home sales in your local area? Do Millennial sales reflect national trends?

From 2012-2016, nearly a third (33%) of older Millennials (those 33 to 37 years old) bought four-bedroom homes, compared with roughly a quarter who bought similar-sized homes in 1980, 1990, and 2000. Sources to interview include chief economists Lawrence Yun at the NAR, Ralph McLaughlin at Veritas Urbis Economics, and Sam Khater at Freddie Mac.

Why are Millennial homeowners choosing your zip code?

To answer that question, look at this NAR report on generational home buying trends . There are six trends to watch, says the report: Millennials are moving into “surban” areas that combine the best of city living and suburban amenities; “18-hour” cities offering entertainment and activities past 5 o’clock; Midwestern cities with appealing prices; areas that emphasize sustainability; Rust Belt cities from Buffalo to Omaha; and tech “superhubs,” such as Austin, that attract top tech companies. Where does Millennial home buying in your area fit into this picture? Tell this story as a graphic.

How are Millennial homeowners handling the financial details of homeownership?

How are these new homeowners financing down payments, and how are they managing their budgets with a mortgage? The new tax law limits deductions on home mortgage interest to $10,000 in 2018. How do they plan to manage, if they bought more house they now realize they can’t afford, especially if they’re living in a high-property tax state such as New Jersey, New York, Texas, or California? Develop this story by asking six to eight readers to participate in an online panel and video story with a few financial planners, preferably a Certified Financial Planner (CFP).

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