Strong competition in today’s pricey housing market has ruled out some first-time buyers, especially in major metropolitan areas. These buyers usually make up approx. 40% of the market, but now it is less than a third according to the National Association of Realtors. Most are millennials aged 25-34 years.
However, there is still hope for home ownership. While the pandemic has spurred a strong demand for housing, it has also allowed for more flexibility in where people can live, benefiting the same first-time buyers.
So where are the best bets for them in 2021
Four of the top 10 best markets for first-time buyers, as determined by Realtor.com, are in the Midwest. Bloomington, Illinois, leads the list. Iowa City, Iowa, number two, followed by Kalamazoo, Michigan; Great Falls, Montana; Eau Claire, Wisconsin; Savannah, Georgia; Schenectady, New York; Taylorville, Utah; Harrisonburg, Virginia; and Rapid City, South Dakota.
All of the top markets have median housing prices below the current national median of $ 370,000. Kalamazoo, Michigan, has the lowest average house price of $ 155,000, while Taylorsville, Utah, has the highest of $ 350,000.
But it’s not just about price and affordability. To determine the best cities, Realtor.com looked at housing prices relative to local incomes, the proportion of 25- to 34-year-olds living in the market, the availability of houses for sale, job opportunities, distance to work and facilities such as bars and restaurants. It also limited the location to one city per. State.
“With 50% fewer homes on the market this year than last year, the U.S. housing market is competitive for all buyers,” said Danielle Hale, chief economist at Realtor.com. “First-time buyers have a major disadvantage, as they do not have the funds from a previous home sale to help with their payout or compete with bidding wars.”
Another survey of potential first-time buyers by Realtor.com showed that 44% of millennials said they did not have enough for a payout. Part of that, though, may be that they are not aware of programs designed to help them.
“There are some great loan programs available only to first-time home buyers that allow for as little as 5% down without mortgage insurance,” said Jennifer Myers, a real estate agent at Dwell who often works with millennials and is himself one. “There are programs like this all over the country, and many first-time buyers qualify, but just do not know about these amazing ways to make their first home more affordable.”
If buying is not out of the question, the best cities to find affordable, luxury rental apartments are mostly in the south, according to another survey conducted by RENTCafe, a site with housing lists. Georgia, especially the Atlanta area, caught the top spots. Cities in Alabama and South Carolina followed the list.