According to Zillow's 2018 Best Markets for First-Time Buyers Analysis, first-time buyers in the U.S. looking for an affordable home without much competition may have the best luck in the State of Florida, with both Tampa and Orlando ranked high in the Top 10 best cities for first-time home buyers in 2018. Texas also had 3 cities ranked high on the same list.
Zillow ranked the 35 largest U.S. housing markets based on where first-time buyers have the best chance to find an affordable home with little buyer competition and strong forecasted home value appreciation. First-time buyers make up 42 percent of all buyers, according to the 2017 Zillow Group Report on Consumer Housing Trends.
The U.S. housing market is competitive for all buyers, as there are not enough homes for sale to meet today's strong buyer demand. In January, inventory of the least expensive homes was down 17.1 percent annually, compared to a 9.7 percent decrease for all homes. In 2017, nearly a quarter of home sales were above the listed price. This puts first-time buyers at a disadvantage this home shopping season because they won't have the capital from a previous home sale to help fund a down payment or keep up with bidding wars. Saving up for a down payment is the most commonly cited barrier to homeownership.
New buyers will have it easiest in the Southeast, especially Texas and Florida. Five of the top 10 markets for first-time buyers are in those two states. Homes in those markets require a smaller down payment, and buyers are more likely to encounter price cuts.
First-time buyers are likely to face the most difficulty in pricy West Coast markets, especially California metros. Not only are homes expensive, but inventory is especially limited, and it takes longer to break even on a home purchase.
Ten Best Markets for First-Time Homebuyers in 2018
1. Tampa, FL 2. Indianapolis, IN 3. Houston, TX 4. Orlando, FL 5. San Antonio, TX 6. Saint Louis, MO 7. Philadelphia, PA 8. Atlanta, GA 9. Las Vegas, NV 10. Dallas, TX
"More and more millennials are reaching the point in their lives where they are ready to buy a home, but they are entering a highly competitive housing market that has been plagued by low inventory, especially among entry-level homes," said Zillow Senior Economist Aaron Terrazas. "Southeastern markets will be easiest for new buyers, where homes are more affordable and there's less competition. People planning to buy for the first time in some of the tougher markets should be prepared to face a more competitive environment, but that doesn't mean they should count out buying entirely."
Zillow's list of the best markets for first-time buyers is based on five metrics:
Low median home value that requires a smaller down payment
Strong forecasted home value appreciation
High inventory-to-household ratio, to indicate available supply
Short Breakeven Horizon, which is the time it takes for buying to be financially advantageous compared to renting