Culturemap Austin shares, "It's not easy to buy a home anywhere, but folks in Austin are doing way better than average, according to Zillow. Texas' capital ranked No. 5 among the top 10 U.S. cities for buying a first home.

In 2023, new homebuyers occupied the largest slice of the market since the report started in 2018, making up about half of all buyers. The demographic was only 37 percent in 2021. It cites the "rate lock" effect for keeping "repeat buyers" from moving on too quickly and abandoning their lower mortgage rates. Hopefully strength in numbers gives newcomers a little more power against flippers and developers.

The new Zillow report further helps follow purchasing power, identifying places with a larger selection of homes and more bang for each buck. That meant measuring how affordable rent is (considering that most first-time homebuyers are still renting), how many current for-sale listings a typical household can realistically afford, how much competition Zillow expects for those listings, and how many households exist in a similar age range for first-timers.

Here's how Austin stacked up:

  • Share of households aged 29-43: 34 percent
  • How much a median income household would spend on rent: 20 percent
  • Share of listings that are affordable: 23 percent
  • Competition: 1.3 listings per 100 renters

"More affordable rent shortens the time it takes to save for a down payment," explains the report, "and a higher number of active for-sale listings relative to the potential homebuyer population means more options – and more bargaining power – for potential first-time home buyers in those markets."

The only other Texas city that made the list was San Antonio, which scored No. 7. Metrics were extremely similar between the two Central Texas cities.

The biggest difference was the competition ratio. Whereas San Antonians have 2.6 listings per 100 renters, Austinites have only 1.3. Austin also had the highest occurrence out of any city of households in the 29- to 43-year-old age range. Zillow points this out that this means those who do buy their first homes have a strong chance of finding community together.

The top city on the list was St. Louis, Missouri, which had a staggering 67 percent of available homes falling within the "affordable" range. Houses were about as affordable as they are for Austinites — with 20 percent of a St. Louis household's income going to rent — but there were certainly more of them. Zillow did not rank or share data on cities outside of its top 10.

"Affording a home is a tough hill to climb, and it's especially steep for those buying their first home. Headwinds like mortgage rates, low inventory and rising rents are still strong, but easing," said Zillow Senior Economist Orphe Divounguy in a press release.

"Attractive homes are moving fast, so those looking to buy this spring should get their finances in order now, including getting pre-approved for a home loan," Divounguy continued. "The increase in new listings this spring, due both to new construction and to more homeowners choosing to sell, will give buyers more options and help to ease price growth. The housing train is slowing down just enough to give more first-time buyers an opportunity to hop on board."

If all these numbers feel like a lot to keep track of, consider letting a computer do the work. Zillow uses this opportunity to promote its first-time homebuyer's tools including an affordability calculator, loan advice, and recommendations for down payment assistance programs."

Source: Culturemap Austin 

Written by: Brianna Caleri

Published: April 10, 2024

Posted by Grossman & Jones Group on


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