San Diego is only for affluent buyers now:

Best metro areas for first-time buyers in 2023

Bankrate ranked 50 metro areas across four broad categories: housing prices in relation to local wages; the tightness of the local housing market; the employment picture; and wellness and culture. Based on that scoring, the top areas are:

1. Austin: This metro area’s job market is booming, and it ranks first in that category. Austin also placed second in market tightness and near the top in wellness and culture. It lags in just one area: affordability. With a median home price of $565,000 as of September, according to Redfin, Austin can be a challenging market for young buyers looking for a starter home.

2. Kansas City: The Kansas City metro area ranked No. 3 in affordability and No. 11 in market tightness. However, its ranking was pulled down by middle-of-the-pack showings in job market and wellness and culture.

3. Raleigh: Raleigh ranks No. 1 in market tightness, or lack thereof. In this category, Bankrate graded metro areas by how many homes were for sale compared to a year ago, and how quickly those homes sell. In the other three categories, the Research Triangle region (which includes nearby Durham and Chapel Hill) ranked outside the top 10, but still above average.

4. Minneapolis: The Twin Cities region placed fifth in the labor market category, thanks to a low unemployment rate, strong job growth and short commutes. While it didn’t dominate in any other category, the metro area performed well overall, posting top 20 finishes in wellness and affordability.

5. Jacksonville: This northern Florida metro area placed in the top 10 in both the job market category and in housing market tightness.

Worst metro areas for first-time buyers in 2023

At the bottom are a group of five metro areas with steep home prices and tight housing markets:

46. Riverside: California homebuyers who are willing to move inland can get a house for hundreds of thousands of dollars less than they’d spend in a beachside city like San Diego. One trade-off is long commute times, which pulled Riverside down in our rankings. Lower incomes compared to coastal Southern California also make affordability a challenge.

47. San Diego: San Diego ranked 49th out of 50 in affordability, easily offsetting its No. 4 ranking in wellness and culture.

48. New York City: The largest metro area in the U.S. had back-of-the-pack showings in Bankrate’s job market and affordability categories. The lone bright spot was a No. 3 showing in wellness and culture.

49. Boston: Boston came in 46th in affordability, and its rankings in the other three categories were in the middle of the pack.

50. Washington, D.C.: The nation’s capital ranks 44th in job market, a result of weak job growth and long commutes. In another poor showing, D.C. ranks 39th in market tightness. Its only top 10 finish came in wellness and culture.

All 50 metros ranked here:

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Jim the Realtor
Jim is a long-time local realtor who comments daily here on his blog, which began in September, 2005. Stick around!

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