Wichita Kansas

Great deals in the Great Plains: Kansas is tops for first-time buyers 

Wichita was No. 1 among the 10 best metros for first-time buyers, offering a mix of affordable homes, good inventory and a higher share of price cuts.

December 7, 2022
3 minutes

Key points:

  • Six of the top 10 cities in Zillow's analysis were in the Midwest, with others clustered in the Northeast.
  • Buyers looking in any region should consider acting now rather than waiting for big price drops that may never come.

Right now may be the best opportunity some first-time homebuyers will have to get into the market, says Zillow home trends expert Amanda Pendleton.

That's especially true in the markets Zillow identified as the Top 10 best metros for first-time homebuyers, which are largely clustered in the Midwest and Northeast. Wichita, Kansas took the top spot, followed by Toledo, Ohio and Syracuse, New York. 

Zillow top ten first-time buyer markets

All of the markets identified boast lower than typical house values, higher than average selection and a higher share of price cuts.

"Buyers who can afford it have a better chance to buy a home than they have had in years, and will have a much better buying experience today," Pendleton told Real Estate News. But it may not last. "A lot of people are waiting on the sidelines," she says. When those buyers lose patience and start coming back in, competition will cost them some of the bargaining power today's buyers enjoy.

And while remote work has somewhat upended the traditional importance of location in real estate, it still matters. But for most first-time homebuyers, the most attractive quality of any location is its affordability, Pendleton says.

"Buyers are looking to regions where  they can afford to put down roots," she says. "These are places where people can do that still, not just to buy but also to rent. Because if rent is lower, it takes less time to save up for that down payment."

Given that prices are holding steady, Pendleton says buyers won't necessarily benefit from waiting, and should look for a home they want to stay in long term. 

"Obviously the best time to jump into the market is when it's the best time for you and for your family," Pendleton says. But if the time is right, there's no sense in holding out for a bargain, because Zillow economists don't expect to see prices fall anytime soon, according to Pendleton.

"The best hope is falling interest rates, not falling prices," she says. "But waiting for lower mortgage rates is not really a great reason not to buy because you can refinance." 

Of course, prospective buyers don't have to move to one of Zillow's top ten cities to take advantage of the current market, Pendleton added, noting that buyers generally have a greater advantage than they did earlier in the year.

"Buyers across the country, regardless of where you're looking, still have a really good opportunity to have a better buying experience. … You're probably not going to get stuck in a bidding war, you have more time to decide, and you've got bargaining power."

Get the latest real estate news delivered to your inbox.