Zillow Reveals the 10 Best Cities for First-Time Home Buyers in 2024

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Home may be where the heart is, but if you’re buying for the first time, you’ll need to factor the logistics, too. Are you pre-approved for a loan? Is there an abundance of properties that fit comfortably within your budget? And, of course, where should you live? If that list of questions has you feeling a bit overwhelmed, we have good news: Zillow did all the research to find the 10 best cities for first-time home buyers to check out in 2024.

In order to find the hottest markets for real-estate rookies, Zillow considered four factors: rent affordability; available inventory on Zillow that the average household could comfortably afford; the ratio of affordable for-sale inventory to renter homes; and the share of households aged 29 to 43 years, which creates a higher score in Zillow’s rankings. (While all this talk about rent might seem irrelevant, Zillow argues that low rent will decrease the time it’ll take to save up for a down payment.)

So what’s the top contender for first-time home buyers? Believe it or not, it’s St. Louis, Missouri. “St. Louis, and the Midwest as a whole, stands out as an attractive region for aspiring homeowners because affordable housing is more accessible, and it’s scarce almost everywhere else,” says Skylar Olsen, Zillow’s chief economist. “Lower rents in St. Louis make it easier for prospective buyers to save up for the down payment needed to break into homeownership and buy down debt. A larger number of affordable listings and less potential competition over those listings helps St. Louis shine in this ranking.”

st louis zillow study

Courtesy of Zillow

The midwest continues to make its mark as Detroit, Minneapolis, and Indianapolis rank second, third, and fourth, respectively. (Meanwhile, Kansas City, Missouri, holds the ninth place spot on this list.) If harsh, Midwestern winters aren’t your thing, you might want to consider heading down south. Fortunately, Austin is considered the fifth best market for first-time home buyers, while San Antonio, Texas, takes seventh place and Birmingham, Alabama, clocks in at number eight.

The east coast may not provide that many options for first-time home buyers, but Zillow says there are some options—with Pittsburgh in sixth place and Baltimore ranking 10th.

But regardless of where you choose to call home, one thing’s for sure: Now’s a good time to buy. “The increase in new listings this spring, due both to new construction and to more homeowners choosing to sell, will give buyers more options and help to ease price growth,” says Orphe Divounguy, senior economist at Zillow. “The housing train is slowing down just enough to give more first-time buyers an opportunity to hop on board.”

That said, Divounguy notes that “attractive homes are moving fast,” so it’s a good idea to organize your finances and get pre-approved for a home loan. If you’re looking for more real-estate tips, we have you covered.


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