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This is America's best city for first-time homebuyers

Interest rates hit homebuyers’ wallets
Homebuyers feel pinch as interest rates rise 03:39

With the dream of buying a home increasingly out of reach for many Americans, aspiring property owners may want to consider Pittsburgh. The Pennsylvania city is the best metro area in the country for first-time buyers, according to a new study.

The Steel City offers a healthy mix of affordable housing and good neighborhoods, with a steady flow of properties coming onto the market, Bankrate found. The personal finance website examined the nation's 50 largest metro areas and ranked their attractiveness for first-time homebuyers based on 11 different metrics, including access to cultural centers and the local job market.

The median home price in Pittsburgh in the first quarter of 2022 was $169,000, according to ATTOM Data Solutions, compared with the national median of $320,500. And those lower prices have become very attractive in today's competitive housing market, one Pittsburgh realtor told CBS MoneyWatch. 

"For newcomers to the area, especially if they're from a larger metro area, our housing values are a pleasant surprise," said John Petrack, executive vice president for the Realtors Association of Metropolitan Pittsburgh. "We tend to have a very stable housing market. We don't experience the large ups or downs of other major cities, although the last two years have seen unusually high appreciation for us."

Florida is the least affordable state to live in 01:27

Rounding out Bankrate's top five cities for first-time house-hunters are Minneapolis, Minnesota; Cincinnati, Ohio; Kansas City, Missouri; and Buffalo, New York.

Minneapolis ranks second in part because of its unemployment rate, which placed sixth in the study's labor market category. Housing inventory in the Twin Cities is low and prices are rising, "but the area's great schools, health care, job opportunities, and the variety of arts and entertainment options make living here a fantastic value," said Minneapolis Area Realtors President Denise Mazone.

Tough markets

The worst places for first-time homebuyers were Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Seattle because of their low housing inventory, high-priced homes and higher unemployment, according to Bankrate study,

The median home price in Los Angeles in April was $1 million, up 13% from last year, according to Redfin data. Las Vegas' median home price for the same period was $435,000, up 30% from a year ago, and Seattle's median home price was $889,000, up 11% from a year ago. 

A million-dollar price tag is one thing, but families looking to buy in L.A. also have to generate enough funds to compete with cash buyers and institutional buyers, said Anthony Vulin, president of Greater Los Angeles Realtors. The competition is steep when there's a shortage of available homes for sale in the first place, he said. 

"Big picture, we need to solve L.A.'s housing production problem to truly make the region more friendly to first-time buyers," Vulin told CBS MoneyWatch.

Home prices have soared this year, largely because housing demand has outstripped supply after construction companies cut back on building new homes during the coronavirus pandemic. Home prices have also climbed because some longtime homeowners chose to delay selling and stay put as the pandemic swept across the nation.

The rise in prices has been widespread, with Florida cities Miami, Orlando and Tampa seeing some of the sharpest increases. High prices have snatched the dream of homeownership away from some middle-class Americans — many of whom have opted to bail on the market in recent weeks. Others have decided to stay the course and search for cheaper priced homes in other cities.

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