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By Sarah Hansen
January 10, 2022
Aerial view of the homes and buildings near the Elizabeth River in Portsmouth Virginia
Portsmouth, Virginia
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Homes are often just too expensive in many cities for people trying to buy their first house in today's red hot market. But if you're hoping to buy for your first home this year, don't despair: There are still places out there that are "hidden gems" — with affordable listings (and plenty of them on the market), plus good job opportunities and other amenities.

New research from Realtor.com evaluates more than 1,000 cities to find best markets for first-time homebuyers in 2022. The firm says its picks have affordable prices, good job markets, short commutes, plentiful food and drink options, younger residents and a large inventory of available homes in real estate markets that are expected to grow.

Meanwhile, many real estate experts are predicting that mortgage rates will inch higher in 2022, but will still likely be near historic lows in the months ahead.

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Magna, Utah, took the top spot thanks to its affordable prices, close proximity to Salt Lake City and plentiful dining options. The median home price in Magna is $367,900, according to Realtor.com.

Salt Lake City, with its relatively low cost of living, easily accessible skiing and hiking, good schools and strong local tech industry, also took the top spot on Realtor.com’s list of the hottest housing markets for 2022. Two other Utah towns in the outskirts of Salt Lake City, Syracuse and South Jordan, made it to Money's list of the Best Places to Live in 2021.

Best markets for first-time homebuyers

Here are the top 10 best markets for first-time homebuyers, according to Realtor.com:

  1. Magna, Utah
  2. Chalco, Nebraska
  3. Mauldin, South Carolina
  4. Beech Grove, Indiana
  5. Portsmouth, Virginia
  6. Cottage Grove, Wisconsin
  7. Grimes, Iowa
  8. Kuna, Idaho
  9. Ferndale, Michigan
  10. Maitland, Florida

Realtor.com says the cities on the list have a forecasted unemployment rate of 2.7%, compared to the national forecasted rate of 3.6%. They also had significantly more active listings than the national average last year (79.2 listings per 1,000 households compared to 44.9 listings per 1,000 households nationally). Home sales in these 10 markets are expected to grow 10.2% in 2022, compared to 6.6% across the entire country.

“It’s always a challenge to buy your first home, and it’s been especially challenging the last couple of years because the housing market has been so competitive,” said Danielle Hale, Realtor.com’s chief economist. “Despite that, there are pockets and neighborhoods across the country where it’s a little easier for first-timers to get their foot in the door—and where they’d want to live, too.”

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