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12 top housing markets for first-time home buyers

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Home price growth has slowed to a crawl and the supply of housing is beginning to gain traction. Is this the moment when the market finally opens up for potential homebuyers?

While it’s probably too early to call a change in the cycle, there are markets where the conditions are turning better for bidders, on both a relative basis (think media values) and absolute basis (sellers have begun to cut prices in meaningful numbers).

“The shortage of starter homes across the country is finally starting to ease, and that’s good news for would-be first-time buyers who have been saving up to make the leap into homeownership,” Skylar Olsen, Zillow’s director of economic research, said in a press release. “Unfortunately, prices of homes in the lower third of the market have risen so much in recent years that for many households’ budgets they no longer qualify as affordable. But markets like Tampa and Las Vegas still provide plenty of bargains.”

Last year saw the most first-time buyers purchase a home since the housing crisis. Overall, 43% of first-time buyers went to the suburbs in 2018, while 40% chose an urban setting and 17% bought in a rural locale. The suburbs also retained the largest share of consumers as 52% of repeat buyers decided to stay there.

From the desert of the Southwest to all across Florida, here’s a look at the 12 housing markets deemed best for first-time home purchasers.

Zillow based its list of best markets for first-time homebuyers on a combination of four metrics: Low median home value, forecasted home value appreciation, high inventory-to-household ratio, and a high share of listings with a price cut.

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