The 5 Most Affordable Cities For First-Time Home Buyers. With home prices soaring across the country, first-time home buyers have been priced out of most markets. It’s now more important than ever that those entering the housing market for the first time know where to find the best deals.
First-time home buyers may not be able to compete in the country’s largest cities. However, there are a number of emerging metropolitan areas that offer affordable housing and homes that are still appreciating in value.
The 5 Most Affordable Cities For First-Time Home Buyers
Given how volatile the market has been over the last year since the pandemic, first-time home buyers may need additional help finding the best cities to meet their needs. Rocket Homes® has teamed up with BestPlaces.net to identify the 10 most affordable cities for first-time home buyers. These locations are exhibiting strong growth but have yet to reach their full potential, making them ideal for those buyers looking to score deals in housing markets that are up and coming.
The researchers at BestPlaces.net used the following metrics to determine the rankings for the most affordable cities for first-time home buyers:
- Cost per square foot
- Recent home appreciation
- Current home price
- First-time home buyer programs and grants
- Real estate taxes
- Price-to-rent ratio
- Cost of living
- Ratio of home price to median household income
A filter was also applied to the results to ensure that our final choices have shown significant home price appreciation over the last year (indicating increasing demand) while excluding those metros with the very highest appreciation (indicating that those places may now be overpriced). To do this, we homed in on those metro areas with a home appreciation rate between 10% and 20% over the last 12 months.
The 5 Most Affordable Cities For First-Time Home Buyers
1. Scranton, Pennsylvania
- Metro population: 553,885
- Median home price: $137,800
- Median square feet: 1,852
- Recent home appreciation: 13.6%
Although the collapse of coal mining caused the city to decline in the 1950s, Scranton is now welcoming in a new crowd, as trendy lofts take the place of vacant industrial buildings and the local art scene flourishes. The revitalized metropolitan area is affordable and made even more attractive to those looking to put down roots thanks to the closing cost and down payment assistance Pennsylvania offers new buyers. With nine different initiatives to choose from, the state ranks in the top 10% of the country for its first-time home buyer programs and grants.
2. Owensboro, Kentucky
- Metro population: 119,440
- Median home price: $138,000
- Median square feet: 1,702
- Recent home appreciation: 13.8%
Owensboro is a city that has been transformed by the development of its riverfront. Located on the Ohio River, Smothers Park is just one of the area’s 25 parks that make up nearly 8% of the city’s 19 acres. Not only does the metropolitan area offer first-time home buyers plenty of green space (and exciting new playgrounds), but it also provides housing that ranks in the top 15% of the country for its affordability. The median home price in Owensboro is 45.5% below the U.S. metro average of $253,384.
3. Brownsville, Texas
- Metro population: 423,163
- Median home price: $120,900
- Median square feet: 1,993
- Recent home appreciation: 14.5%
With cost of living 26.3% below the national average, Brownsville is more affordable than 98% of the country. The city’s home price-to-rent ratio is just 10.3, meaning that it’s a place where it makes more sense to buy a home than it does to rent. While the median rent is 26.9% below the U.S. metro average, the median price of a home is actually 52.3% below the average. Therefore, more residents can afford homeownership and reap the benefits of living near the Gulf of Mexico, in a place that enjoys an average of 223 sunny days a year.
4. Decatur, Alabama
- Metro population: 152,603
- Median home price: $153,200
- Median square feet: 2,283
- Recent home appreciation: 13.7%
Decatur, Alabama is a place where first-time potential homeowners can get the most bang for their buck. With homes selling for just $67 per square foot, the area ranks in the top 10% of the country when it comes to offering buyers the opportunity to make the most of their housing budget. With unemployment at just 2.5%, Decatur has a lower unemployment rate than 99% of the country. The city ranks in the top 5% of the country for job growth, and the presence of strong job opportunities suggests that home prices are likely to continue appreciating.
5. South Bend, Indiana
- Metro population: 323,613
- Median home price: $158,900
- Median square feet: 1,727
- Recent home appreciation: 13.8%
A 2017 redevelopment of downtown South Bend reimagined the streetscapes and pedestrian areas, making the city more walkable. The $21 million initiative not only brought more foot traffic to the urban area but also encouraged private investors to pump another $90 million into revitalization efforts. Rundown properties were demolished to make way for new developments and what was salvageable underwent major renovation. Thanks to the remarkable efforts, the area has seen significant appreciation in home values, which have increased 25% over the last 3 years and 44.4% over the last 5.
Partial source: https://www.rockethomes.com/
Thinking about living in Massachusetts? As one of the top five most expensive states in the U.S., finding affordable housing in the Bay State can be tricky. But if you’re willing to look outside of the Boston metro, finding an affordable place to live gets a lot easier. Whether you’re hoping to rent or buy a home, check out these cheapest places to live in Massachusetts!
- Population: 5,412
- Home Price: $148,200 median purchase price; $628 median monthly rent
- Crime Rate: Safer than 52% of cities in the U.S.
- Unemployment Rate: 5.5%
Tucked away in the northwest corner of the state, Adams is one of the best places to live in Massachusetts for nature lovers! This small suburb of Pittsfield has endless outdoor activities like fishing, hiking, swimming, and more. Plus, art museums, farm-to-table dining, and hospitality jobs await in neighboring North Adams, which has recently become a hot spot for New England tourism. If you’re looking for a breathtaking mountain town with some of the cheapest places to rent in Massachusetts or a location where you can buy an affordable Victorian house, Adams is the place to be!
- Population: 16,042
- Home Price: $242,200 median purchase price; $909 median monthly rent
- Crime Rate: Safer than 54% of cities in the U.S.
- Unemployment Rate: 5.0%
If you’re looking for modest homes with large yards in a city with an affordable cost of living, Easthampton might just be the best place in Massachusetts for you! Safe neighborhoods and great schools like Maple Elementary School, Hilltown Cooperative Charter Public School, and Easthampton High School make Easthampton one of the best places to raise a family in Massachusetts. Not to mention, having the University of Massachusetts Amherst and other small private colleges nearby draws a younger crowd to the city that helps keep the local dining and entertainment scene fresh.
- Population: 94,988
- Home Price: $204,100 median purchase price; $777 median monthly rent
- Crime Rate: Safer than 12% of cities in the U.S.
- Unemployment Rate: 6.4%
Looking for an affordable city in Massachusetts that’s close to Boston? Check out New Bedford! Not only is this mid-size city within an hour of Boston, but it offers plenty to do within its boundaries as well. Because of its waterfront location and the Port of New Bedford, the city is home to top commercial fishing, maritime, and marine technology jobs—and it’s great for recreational fishing, boating, and sailing, too! In addition, New Bedford is brimming with Colonial history and architecture, cultural diversity, and quaint New England coastal charm.
- Population: 5,790
- Home Price: $202,200 median purchase price; $706 median monthly rent
- Crime Rate: Safer than 73% of cities in the U.S.
- Unemployment Rate: 4.2%
Settle down in one of the safest cities in Massachusetts! Spencer has a small-town feel perfect for anyone looking to live a slower pace of life at a lower price point. Not only does the town’s largely agricultural focus mean you can find a home with more spacious grounds, but Spencer and its surrounding area are also heavily-forested, making it one of the most beautiful places in Massachusetts. But despite its quieter feel, you won’t be lacking things to do! The charming Spencer Town Center Historic District is home to a variety of local cafes, restaurants, and shops.
…Let us join your journey of getting your dream house!
Ana speaks 3 languages (Portuguese, English, Spanish), Wife, Stepmom, Journalist, Event Director for the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals (NAHREP) Central MA Chapter.