Zillow Names the 10 Best Metros for First-time Home Buyers in 2023

Staff Report

Thursday, December 8th, 2022

As the share of buyers purchasing a home for the first time rebounds to pre-pandemic levels amid a changing market, a new Zillow analysis rates Wichita, Kansas, as the top area in America for potential first-time home buyers.

Zillow ranked U.S. metros based on factors that included mortgage and rent affordability for first-time home buyers, available homes for sale and the share of listings with a price cut.

"Although housing affordability is extremely challenging these days, some markets will be more hospitable than others for first-time home buyers," said Zillow senior economist Orphe Divounguy. "These metros are potential hotbeds for those looking to buy their first home. Not only will shoppers find more affordable monthly mortgage costs and have an easier time qualifying for a smaller loan, but rent also is more affordable than elsewhere in the country, shortening the time it takes to save for a down payment."

Top 10 best metros for first-time home buyers

Wichita, KS
Toledo, OH
Syracuse, NY
Akron, OH
Cleveland, OH
Tulsa, OK
Detroit, MI
Pittsburgh, PA
St. Louis, MO
Little Rock, AR

Wichita, the largest metro in Kansas, landed the top spot largely because of its relative affordability — it's among the top metros where people spend the smallest share of their income on rent and mortgage costs. And it has a higher share of for-sale listings relative to active shoppers, which means more options and bargaining power for potential home buyers. Wichita home shoppers can also find a number of deals popping up, with 22% of listings seeing a price cut in October.

Three Ohio metros — Toledo, Akron and Cleveland — are also among the top 10. Detroit is the largest metro in the top 10, ranking as the nation's 12th largest. St. Louis (18th) and Pittsburgh (22nd) also are on the list and are among the nation's 30 largest metros.

Wichita rose to the top for similar reasons earlier this year when Zillow analyzed the best metros for single renters. Areas with more affordable housing, such as in the Midwest and Great Lakes regions, should see relatively healthier markets and stronger sales in 2023 when compared to other U.S. markets.

"Affordability remains the No. 1 challenge for first-time home buyers," said Amanda Pendleton, Zillow's home trends expert. "If they can overcome that significant hurdle, aspiring buyers have a better chance of landing a home than they've had in several years. They have more options, more time to decide and more negotiating power, meaning they may be able to land their dream home at a discount."

As the market continues to change amid a high-interest-rate environment, Zillow has gathered tools on one easy-to-navigate web page that can help aspiring first-time buyers make the leap to homeownership.