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2016’s Best & Worst Cities for First-Time Home Buyers

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Buying a home for the first time is an exciting and important milestone in the lives of most consumers. But the collapse of the housing bubble nearly a decade ago remains fresh in the minds of many potential home buyers, especially given the different levels of economic recovery among U.S. cities.

In 2015, the National Association of Realtors reported that among buyers of primary residences, 32 percent were first-timers, whereas the historical average has been 40 percent for this group. And according to a recent Gallup poll, 38 percent of non-homeowners in 2016 don’t plan to buy a home in the foreseeable future, compared with 31 percent three years ago.

But many consumers’ zeal for home buying hasn’t waned. To determine the attractiveness of first-time home-buyer markets across the U.S., WalletHub’s analysts compared 300 cities of varying sizes across 19 key metrics. Our data set ranges from housing affordability to real-estate taxes to property-crime rates. Continue reading below for our findings, expert commentary and a full description of our methodology.

With July being one of the top months for home sales and a third of all home buyers also being first-timers, the personal-finance website WalletHub took an in-depth look at 2016’s Best & Worst Cities for First-Time Home Buyers.

To determine the most favorable housing markets for first-time buyers, WalletHub’s analysts took the pulse of real estate in 300 cities of varying sizes. The data set ranges from housing affordability to real-estate tax rate to property-crime rate.


Best Cities for First-Time Home Buyers Worst Cities for First-Time Home Buyers
1 Overland Park, KS 291 Inglewood, CA
2 Greeley, CO 292 Paterson, NJ
3 Thornton, CO 293 New York, NY
4 Cedar Rapids, IA 294 Miami, FL
5 Westminster, CO 295 Compton, CA
6 Longmont, CO 296 Santa Barbara, CA
7 Boise, ID 297 Berkeley, CA
8 Lincoln, NE 298 Oakland, CA
9 Centennial, CO 299 Miami Beach, FL
10 Lexington, KY 300 Newark, NJ


Best vs. Worst

  • Santa Monica, Calif., has the lowest housing affordability, 6.6 percent, which is 12 times lower than in Detroit, the city with the highest, 76.5 percent.
  • Honolulu has the lowest real-estate tax rate, 0.29 percent, which is 12 times lower than in Waukegan, Ill., the city with the highest, 3.49 percent.
  • Detroit has the highest rent-to-price ratio, 23.17 percent, which is six times higher than in Sunnyvale, Calif., the city with the lowest, 3.64 percent.
  • Laredo, Texas, has the lowest cost-of-living index, which is three times lower than in New York, the city with the highest.
  • Mission Viejo, Calif., has the lowest number of property crimes per 1, 000 residents, 8.9, which is 12 times lower than in Miami Beach, Fla., the city with the highest, 102.7.
  • Shreveport, La., has the lowest average energy cost per household, $127.60, which is four times lower than in Honolulu, the city with the highest, $504.30.




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