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The cost of living can have a big impact on how your income actually stretches. Therefore, adjusting wages for living costs can provide a better glimpse at how much people actually make, suggests a study by Jose Lobo of Arizona State University. Lobo crunched data from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis to find the "real average wage per job," taking into account cost of living and real per-capita personal incomes.

"Knowledge hubs and energy centers — those that have both very high wages and generally fair high costs of living, especially along the coasts — dominate the list," The Atlantic CityLab reports. Also, energy metros rose to the top due to a natural gas boom that is rapidly increasing wages in some areas of the country, while cost of living has remained lower than their big-city counterparts, the study notes.

Workers in higher-cost places still tend to do better than most, even when taking into account the higher costs for housing and other expenses, the study suggests. "Their higher wages more than compensate," the article notes. "This takes some of the wind out of the sails of the arguments that people are better off moving from higher-cost to lower-cost places. The underlying factors that improve productivity and increase wages in the first place help workers do better in these high-cost metros."
According to Lobo's study, the following are the metros with the highest real average wages:
  1. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif.: $75,288
  2. Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, Conn.: $64,321
  3. San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, Calif.: $60,562
  4. California-Lexington Park, Md.: $59,130
  5. Durham-Chapel Hill, N.C.: $58,166
  6. Midland, Texas: $58,153
  7. Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, Texas: $57,461
  8. Midland, Mich.: $57,328
  9. Trenton, N.J.: $55,317
  10. Boston-Cambridge-Newton, Mass.-N.H.: $55,306

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Young people are starting to leave their parent’s home and move out on their own. The Current Population Survey for 2013 showed a drop in the percentage of 20-somethings living with parents, marking the first decline since 2005.

As of now, the percentage drop appears minimal: Those aged 18 to 24 living with parents or a related subgroup dropped from 56 percent to 55 percent in one year. However, Brad Hunter, chief economist at Metrostudy, that the one-percentage-point decline represents 300,000 people who are now looking for a household of their own that who were previously living with their parents.

First-time buyers usually make up about 40 percent of home buyers. However, lately, the share has been in the 35 percent to 38 percent range, Hunter says. For existing-home sales, first-time buyers’ share is less than one-third of all buyers, at 27 percent in May.

The delay in millennials branching out on their own has greatly reduced household formation in recent years. Household formation rates usually average 1.4 million per year. Lately, the rate has been a fraction of that, about 500,000 to 700,000 a year.
“We are seeing some evidence that young people who had moved in with their parents or relatives are now finding the means and the motivation to move out and get their own place,” Hunter notes. “While most of these newly-emerging twenty-somethings will be going into rentals, the movement out of the parental home is nonetheless expected to support a series of positive steps from rentals to entry-level re-sales to entry-level new homes, and on up the ladder.”

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So what are these amenities that home buyers want so badly? Fifty-one percent surveyed say they want their next home to be larger than their current residence, and 64 percent say they prefer a move-in ready home.
Among the most important features home buyers identified:
  • "His and her closets" in the master bedroom (31%) and spa-like master bathrooms (23%)
  • A large eat-in kitchen area (23%) and a kitchen island (22%)
  • At least one bathtub in a home (54%)
Home buyers are showing some willingness to pay more for certain amenities in a home, according to the latest PulteGroup Home Index Survey of more than 1,000 adults ages 25 to 65.
What's surprising is that buyers say they'd give up some pretty alluring draws about a property for certain amenities: Forty-four percent surveyed say they're willing to give up a location near public transportation in exchange for certain amenities, and 35 percent say they'd give up better schools and proximity to entertainment and shopping.
"In addition to the more common home options, we're starting to see regional trends emerging among home buyer preferences," says Ryan Marshall , PulteGroup Inc.'s executive vice president of homebuilding operations, marketing and sales. "From outdoor kitchens in Florida, to spice kitchens in California, shoppers are increasingly discerning when it comes to home features that could be the deciding factor in their next move."
Folding, accordion-style glass doors are popular in the Southwest, while multi-generation floor plans and screened-in porches are popular in the Southeast, according to the survey. In the Northeast, balconies off the kitchen and rooftop terraces are sought-after, while "Jack 'n' Jill" bedrooms are in high demand in the Midwest.
The most important areas to home buyers when choosing a new home: kitchen (29%), bedroom (22%), and living room (18%).
"Consumers today aren't just looking for the biggest house on the block. They're looking for more efficient use of space and a greater area allocated to 'workhorse' spaces, like the kitchen," says Marshall.  "Home buyers want unique features and amenities and will do what it takes to find the home they truly want, even if they have to pay more for a move-in ready home."

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Student housing is getting more attention from the real estate industry as more developers take their projects upscale and bring them on campus.
“This is an industry that is ripe with opportunity,” Bill Bayless, CEO of American Campus Communities, the largest student-housing REIT in the country, told CNBC. “If you look at the student housing sector, it was ignored by the mainstream real estate industry for more than 40 years.”
Budget constraints have forced major universities to allow private investors onto campus for real estate developments, investors that once mostly had to center their student housing development off-campus.
The millennial generation is reshaping student housing too, with a demand for dorms that offer private suites with full kitchens and baths opposed to the traditional double rooms and communal spaces. The buildings also include extras like large physical fitness centers, movie theaters, and virtual driving ranges.
Housing experts say more attention needs to be devoted to the student housing sector. Aging dormitories built for the baby boom generation need to be replaced, and the student population in colleges is growing. Student housing’s growth is also being driven by international interest. Foreign student enrollment is estimated to jump to 12 percent by 2021, compared to about 5 percent in 2006. Also, more baby boomers are retiring in college towns that are drying up vacancies in nearby apartments and are limiting off-campus options for students, CNBC reports.

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