First-Time Home Buyer? Consider These 5 Cities

The Great Recession has come and gone, leaving economic disparity in its wake. The result is an America in which certain cities are supreme for mortgage newbies looking for a home, while others are not so hot. Read on for our roundup of the friendliest locales for first-time home buyers. (See also: The 5 Best Cities for Starting Over)

1. Colorado Springs, Colorado

This city at the foot of the Rockies ranks number one in WalletHub's rating of the best big cities for first-time home buyers. With a gorgeous natural living environment, the median home value in Colorado Springs is just under $222,000, and experts say it's on the rise, making it a seller's market.

But don't let the fact that the market isn't tilting toward buyers scare you off.

The city's resale market is recovering after taking a big hit during the recession. More buyers are looking, and what they're finding has a lot of promise: In 2014, the Colorado Springs area added nearly 4,900 jobs, almost tripling the expectations of many experts. Another perk: 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages have stayed below 4% since late 2015. Low rates make home-buying more affordable for newbie buyers, while the rosy jobs market bolsters consumer confidence — a combination that's fueling the market. Prices are on the rise, but that bodes well for resale opportunity in the future.

2. Austin, Texas

With a loan funding rate of 68% and 148 mortgage lenders to choose from, Austin is in the thick of a housing boom. The area's median housing price settles around $264,000, marking an 8.8% jump in the annual median sales price. Here's why that's good for first-time buyers: Housing prices are rising, but compared to the rest of the nation, they're still fairly cheap. There's also a population growth surge and a housing supply shortage, which means prices are likely to continue to rise. The three-year home price growth projection for Austin is 27%.

With a strong year-over-year job growth of 3.3%, Austin is a great market to buy into now before it becomes too hot to touch. "As long as people continue to move here, we're going to continue with a robust economy," says Austin area real estate agent Grant Whittenberger. "Texas is becoming a destination for people in states facing difficult economic times."

3. Virginia Beach, Virginia

With a median home sales price of $235,000, Virginia Beach's housing market is seeing big signs of recovery. It's also riding high on a forecast of slow but steady economic improvement. These factors have earned this city of boardwalks, beaches, low crime, and good schools a spot on's top 10 ranking of real estate markets to watch in 2016. Virginia Beach also just so happens to be one of the best places to grow up.

4. Charlotte, North Carolina

Homes are quickly moving off the market in this North Carolina city known for its funky neighborhoods, celebrated health care system, and close proximity to both the beach and mountains. Trulia Housing Economist Ralph McLaughlin ranked the Charlotte area number two in his roundup of 10 markets to watch in 2016 based on a healthy combination of affordability, job growth, and online search activity. With a median home value just under $166,000, now is a great time to buy in. Bonus: The Charlotte area also has a large share of Millennials.

5. Tampa Bay, Florida

With coastal beauty, wonderful weather, top notch entertainment, a prized casual lifestyle, and loads of Millennials, Tampa is an undervalued, under-the-radar real estate market that's well-suited to entry-level home buyers. The median listing price in greater Tampa, which includes the vibrant St. Petersburg area, is just under $170,000, which is more than $50,000 below the national average. With more than 21,000 listings to choose from, data shows that 18% of all Tampa Bay homes lost value in the year ending in August 2015, which means it's a good time to snap up a good price on a home here. Despite recent value loses, the housing market continues to recover from the recession, and that bodes well for future resale.

Where are you looking to buy a first home?

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Guest's picture

Is this correct? We just sold our home in Tampa, FL for 150% more than we paid for it a couple years ago, as it is a hot sellers' market for homes under $200k right now. There were news articles about how the prices have been rising drastically in Tampa the the past couple years - 20% just in the month before we decided to sell our home..

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Jasmine Dsouza

Philadelphia should have been on the list. It is very affordable too!