Scranton, Pa: highest potential first-time homebuyer share

What matters more for first-time homebuyers, affordability or jobs? Actually, both are crucial. CoreLogic’s recent data shows that first-time buyers made up a larger portion of potential buyers in affordable Midwest and Texas markets, as well as cities with high-paying tech jobs.

Using potential first-time buyer shares, the real estate analysis firm ranked the top 100 U.S. metros by population. The study included all mortgage applications from January 2019 to December 2022, regardless of approval status.

Scranton, Pennsylvania, ranked first at 54%, with New Haven, Connecticut, close behind at 52% as the only two cities with over half of applications from first-time buyers. Surprisingly, despite high home prices, New York City was third (49%), followed by three New England cities providing cheaper alternatives to Boston and New York: Worcester, Massachusetts (49%); Springfield, Massachusetts (48%); and Hartford, Connecticut (47%).

The Great Lakes region also had several cities where first-time buyer shares surpassed 36%, including Chicago, Detroit, Cincinnati, and Columbus, Ohio, offering more affordability than coastal cities. Interestingly, CoreLogic discovered a connection between high-tech job rates and changes in first-time buyer shares over three years.

San Francisco and San Jose, despite their pricey homes, experienced the largest increase in first-time buyer shares from 2019 to 2022, likely due to the plentiful, high-paying tech jobs in the Bay Area. Austin, Seattle, and Boston also witnessed above-average growth in first-time buyer shares and ranked highly among cities with significant high-tech employment.

San Jose, San Francisco, and Boston first-time buyers had the highest average credit scores, incomes, and down payments, probably resulting from higher tech industry wages attracting these buyers.

The lowest percentages of first-time buyers were mainly in Florida and Arizona metros. North Port, Florida, had the smallest share at 15%, followed by Boise City, Oklahoma (19%); Palm Bay, Florida (23%); Deltona, Florida (23%); Cape Coral, Florida (23%); and Phoenix (24%).