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First-time buyers' upswing: Good news on housing

| Friday, May 19, 2017, 11:00 p.m.
Town homes stand under construction last year as a pedestrian walks along the BeltLine in Atlanta. (AP Photo)

There's good news for the housing market, the broader economy and parents whose adult offspring still occupy the family basement: First-time buyers are snatching up homes in droves.

The Wall Street Journal cites abundant supporting evidence. Census Bureau data show new-owner households were more than double new-renter households in 2017's first quarter; online residential real estate site Trulia says it's the first time buyers have outnumbered renters in a decade. Housing research firm Zelman & Associates says major builders, long focused on luxury homes, are constructing more starter homes. And first-timers are 42 percent of buyers this year, up from 38 percent in 2015, according to Fannie Mae.

Despite the housing market's slow recovery, rising rates, shorter credit histories and student debt, millennials are getting mortgages and settling into homeownership. “They're crawling out of their parents' basements, they're forming households and they're looking to buy,” Doug Bauer, CEO of Tri Pointe Group Inc., which builds homes in eight states, told The Journal.

That's heartening for the housing industry; for communities, which benefit from stable and expanding populations and tax bases; for existing homeowners, whose properties' values rise with overall demand; and for millennials, whose slow progress toward homeownership has been the subject of much concern.

Buying one's first home is a milestone toward the American Dream. It's good to know that dream is alive — and being pursued vigorously.

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