The 10 worst US cities for first-time homebuyers

Where there are good options, there are also options that are not as ideal. So, while there are highly ranked U.S. cities for first-time homebuyers, there are also those at the bottom of the list.

That list is Bankrate’s best metro areas for first-time homebuyers study, which looks at 50 metro areas, scoring each on affordability, wellness, job market, market tightness and safety. The scores were then combined to create a final ranking, with affordability counting for 30%, wellness and culture counting for 10%, and housing market tightness, safety and employment factors each counting for 20%.

Unsurprisingly, Los Angeles ranks No. 50 overall for first-time homebuyers, due largely to its expensive real estate and low median income. L.A.’s median income is similar to that of Pittsburgh — the No. 1 city on the list — but it has a much tighter housing market.

Here are the 10 worst metro areas for first-time homebuyers, according to Bankrate: 

  1. Los Angeles- Long Beach- Anaheim
  2. Las Vegas- Henderson- Paradise 
  3. Seattle- Tacoma- Bellevue
  4. Riverside- San Bernardino- Ontario, California  
  5. San Jose- Sunnyvale- Santa Clara, California  
  6. Denver- Aurora- Lakewood
  7. Houston- The Woodlands- Sugarland 
  8. San Francisco- Oakland- Hayward
  9. Orlando, Florida
  10. San Diego-Carlsbad 

One thing that sticks out: About half of the lowest-ranked cities are in California. And those areas almost entirely make up the bottom five affordability rankings. In terms of affordability, Riverside ranks at No. 42, San Diego at No. 47, San Francisco at No. 48, Los Angeles at No. 49 and San Jose at No. 50.

Los Angeles may have ranked low for affordability and job market, but the area holds the No. 3 spot for wellness and culture. Although this category only makes up 10% of Bankrate’s final ranking, it may outweigh other factors for certain individual buyers.

Similarly, while these 10 areas might not be the most affordable for new homeowners, that doesn’t mean they don’t have other bright spots. For instance, San Jose has an excellent job market, and residents earn a median salary of $150,000 a year. San Francisco boasts a wellness and culture ranking of No. 1 out of all 50 metro areas.

While these areas may not be the best choice for a first-time homebuyer looking for an affordable home, they may make sense for some buyers. It all comes down to each person’s priorities.

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