In the COVID-fueled real estate boom, home prices continue hitting new highs. Soaring values are a windfall for homeowners but a headache for first-time homebuyers, who can be forgiven for feeling as though homeownership moves further out of reach by the week.
For frustrated home shoppers, moving to a cheaper housing market offers one solution to the affordability conundrum. Some metropolitan areas offer an enticing combination of affordable real estate, a robust job market and high marks for safety, public health and cultural amenities.
The 2022 Bankrate Best Metros for First-Time Homebuyers study crunched 11 data points for the nation’s 50 largest metro areas. We found that Pittsburgh ranks as the most attractive place for first-time buyers, followed by other inland cities that offer a combination of affordable homes, strong local economies and housing markets that aren’t too frothy.
At the opposite end of the scale, the least attractive region is the Los Angeles metro area. Eye-watering prices in California overall give first-time buyers pause: Golden State metro areas accounted for three of the bottom five on our list, and five of the bottom 10. No California metro area ranked higher than 39th.
Best metro areas for first-time buyers in 2022
Bankrate ranked metro areas across five broad categories: housing prices in relation to local wages, the tightness of the local housing market, crime rates, the employment picture and health and wellness. Based on that scoring, the top areas are:
- Pittsburgh: This metro area scored near the top in affordability, tightness of the housing market and safety. The Pittsburgh area was a laggard in just one area: Its employment score was dragged down by a comparatively high unemployment rate. However, most 25- to 44-year-olds in the metro area have plenty of income to qualify for a mortgage.
- Minneapolis: The Twin Cities region placed sixth in the labor market category, thanks to a low unemployment rate. While it didn’t dominate in any other category, the metro area performed well, posting top 15 finishes in wellness and culture and safety.
- Cincinnati: This metro area did well in affordability, placing fourth, and in the safety category, landing seventh overall.
- Kansas City: The Kansas City metro area ranked No. 1 in market tightness, or lack thereof. In this category, Bankrate graded metro areas by how many homes were for sale compared to a year ago, and how quickly those homes sell. In an intense seller’s market nationwide, Kansas City stood out as the least insanely skewed market.
- Buffalo: This metro area placed in the top 10 in affordability and housing market tightness.
Pittsburgh’s housing costs: ‘Very …….