Looking for a First Home as Mortgage Rates Rise? Consider Relocating to 10 Metro Areas Deemed Best by Zillow

Happy young couple holding keys to their new house while moving and looking at the camera smiling.
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The U.S. housing market has cooled in recent months following an extended stretch that saw average home prices rise to their highest point ever, but they’re still not cheap. The combination of historically high prices and rising mortgage rates means many potential home buyers are still priced out of the market — especially first-time buyers with limited funds.

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Luckily, not all housing markets are created equal. You need a sizeable income to afford even the cheapest homes in cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, San Diego, San Jose and Seattle — all of which have median home values above $825,000, according to data from Rocket Mortgage.

But some cities are reasonably affordable based on everything from average rental prices to available inventory. A recent analysis from Zillow looked at four key metrics that can help determine a city’s suitability for first-time buyers: mortgage affordability, rent affordability, inventory-to-buyer ratio (an indication of available supply) and share of listings with a price cut.

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Based on those metrics, Zillow determined the 10 best metro areas for first-time home buyers — nine of which are located in or near the Midwest. If you are in the market for a first home and work a flexible job that gives you the opportunity to relocate, here are 10 metro areas to consider:

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Metro Area Typical Rent Payment as % of Income (as of Oct. 2022) Typical Mortgage Payment as % of Income (as of Oct. 2022) Years Needed To Save for 8%-10% Down Payment (at 2.4% Saving Rate) Estimated Inventory-to-Buyer Ratio Pct. of Listings With Price Cut
Wichita, Kansas 27% 32% 19 22 to 1 22%
Toledo, Ohio 29% 26% 15 5 to 1 23%
Syracuse, New York 36% 30% 17 4 to 1 19%
Akron, Ohio 25% 28% 16 5 to 1 29%
Cleveland, Ohio 31% 30% 17 6 to 1 27%
Tulsa, Oklahoma 31% 31% 18 7 to 1 24%
Detroit, Michigan 31% 31% 18 6 to 1 28%
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 33% 30% 17 6 to 1 28%
St. Louis, Missouri 27% 31% 18 4 to 1 25%
Little Rock, Arkansas 30% 32% 19 6 to 1 20%

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About the Author

Vance Cariaga is a London-based writer, editor and journalist who previously held staff positions at Investor’s Business Daily, The Charlotte Business Journal and The Charlotte Observer. His work also appeared in Charlotte Magazine, Street & Smith’s Sports Business Journal and Business North Carolina magazine. He holds a B.A. in English from Appalachian State University and studied journalism at the University of South Carolina. His reporting earned awards from the North Carolina Press Association, the Green Eyeshade Awards and AlterNet. In addition to journalism, he has worked in banking, accounting and restaurant management. A native of North Carolina who also writes fiction, Vance’s short story, “Saint Christopher,” placed second in the 2019 Writer’s Digest Short Short Story Competition. Two of his short stories appear in With One Eye on the Cows, an anthology published by Ad Hoc Fiction in 2019. His debut novel, Voodoo Hideaway, was published in 2021 by Atmosphere Press.
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