Wichita, Kansas: Top Market for First-Time Home Buyers

Wichita, Kansas© Denis Tangney Jr / Getty Images Signature / Canva

As the share of buyers purchasing a home for the first time rebounds to pre-pandemic levels amid a changing market, a new Zillow analysis rates Wichita, Kansas, as the top area in America for potential first-time home buyers.

Zillow ranked U.S. metros based on factors that included mortgage and rent affordability for first-time home buyers, available homes for sale and the share of listings with a price cut.

“Although housing affordability is extremely challenging these days, some markets will be more hospitable than others for first-time home buyers,” said Zillow senior economist Orphe Divounguy. “These metros are potential hotbeds for those looking to buy their first home. Not only will shoppers find more affordable monthly mortgage costs and have an easier time qualifying for a smaller loan, but rent also is more affordable than elsewhere in the country, shortening the time it takes to save for a down payment.”

Top 10 best metros for first-time home buyers

  1. Wichita, KS
  2. Toledo, OH
  3. Syracuse, NY
  4. Akron, OH
  5. Cleveland, OH
  6. Tulsa, OK
  7. Detroit, MI
  8. Pittsburgh, PA
  9. St. Louis, MO
  10. Little Rock, AR

Wichita, the largest metro in Kansas, landed the top spot largely because of its relative affordability — it’s among the top metros where people spend the smallest share of their income on rent and mortgage costs. And it has a higher share of for-sale listings relative to active shoppers, which means more options and bargaining power for potential home buyers. Wichita home shoppers can also find a number of deals popping up, with 22% of listings seeing a price cut in October.

Three Ohio metros — Toledo, Akron and Cleveland — are also among the top 10. Detroit is the largest metro in the top 10, ranking as the nation’s 12th largest. St. Louis (18th) and Pittsburgh (22nd) also are on the list and are among the nation’s 30 largest metros.

Wichita rose to the top for similar reasons earlier this year when Zillow analyzed the best metros for single renters. Areas with more affordable housing, such as in the Midwest and Great Lakes regions, should see relatively healthier markets and stronger sales in 2023 when compared to other U.S. markets.

“Affordability remains the No. 1 challenge for first-time home buyers,” said Amanda Pendleton, Zillow’s home trends expert. “If they can overcome that significant hurdle, aspiring buyers have a better chance of landing a home than they’ve had in several years. They have more options, more time to decide and more negotiating power, meaning they may be able to land their dream home at a discount.”

As the market continues to change amid a high-interest-rate environment, Zillow has gathered tools on one easy-to-navigate web page that can help aspiring first-time buyers make the leap to homeownership.

Zillow’s top 10 best metros for first-time home buyers1
Area(Ranked in
order of best
places for first-
time home
of income
spent on
rent(Based on
the typical
income in
each metro)
of income
spent on
mortgage(Based on
the typical
income in
each metro)
Share of
with a price
United States 44 % 47 % $358,423 27 % 6-to-1
Wichita, KS 27 % 32 % $199,461 22 % 22-to-1
Toledo, OH 29 % 26 % $172,710 23 % 5-to-1
Syracuse, NY 36 % 30 % $204,890 19 % 4-to-1
Akron, OH 25 % 28 % $211,069 29 % 5-to-1
Cleveland, OH 31 % 30 % $218,775 27 % 6-to-1
Tulsa, OK 31 % 31 % $219,513 24 % 7-to-1
Detroit, MI 31 % 31 % $239,846 28 % 6-to-1
Pittsburgh, PA 33 % 30 % $209,041 28 % 6- to- 1
St Louis, MO 27 % 31 % $246,369 25 % 4- to- 1
Little Rock, AR 30 % 32 % $202,077 20 % 6-to-1

The Zillow Best Markets for First-Time Home Buyers index captures the extent to which housing market conditions are supportive of home-buying activity, particularly for first-time home buyers. The index employs four variables: mortgage affordability; rent affordability; the inventory-to-buyer ratio, which indicates available supply; and the share of listings with a price cut. Since affordability is the biggest challenge facing the housing market today, the index weighs the affordability metrics more heavily than the other two components. Lower rent shortens the time it takes to save for a down payment. A larger share of listings with a price cut and a higher number of active for-sale listings relative to the number of active shoppers mean more options and greater bargaining power for potential home buyers in those markets.

Based on October 2022 data

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