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Optimism is in the air for first-time home buyers. According to a recent survey from, 61% said now is a good time to buy. These first-time home buyers may have the best luck in unexpected places like three off-the-radar New York towns included on the Best Markets for First-Time Homebuyers in 2024.

The 2024 report crowns Irondequoit, New York; Benton, Arkansas; and Winterset, Iowa, as the top three markets, according to The analysis found that a collection of small to midsize towns and cities are hidden gems for first-time buyers who can find affordability, healthy inventory, and more.

“Buying a first home can be a daunting task. Couple high interest rates with historically low inventory of homes available for sale in 2023, and hopeful buyers have faced a particularly challenging market,” says Danielle Hale, chief economist,

“While affordability will remain an issue in 2024, a recent survey showed that 95% of prospective first-time home buyers overwhelmingly feel that they’ll be able to afford a home within their lifetime, with 40% saying they’ll be able to afford it within the next year.”

Considering affordability, the analysis considered gross household incomes of 25- to 34-year-olds in a city for the past 12 months. The lower a ratio, the more affordable a place is to live. This year’s top markets had an average 2023 listing price to income ratio of 3.1 compared with the national rate of 5.4. Homes in these towns or cities had a median listing price of $382,000, which is 42% lower than the national average.

The top 10 includes:

  1. Irondequoit, New York
  2. Benton, Arkansas
  3. Winterset, Iowa
  4. Newington, Connecticut
  5. Council Bluffs, Iowa
  6. Cheektowaga, New York
  7. Grand Rapids, Michigan
  8. Moore, Oklahoma
  9. Mattydale, New York
  10. Riviera Beach, Maryland

First-time buyers are looking for homes that fit everything they want while also providing opportunities for their investment to grow. The top markets are located within metros that have an average forecasted 2024 home price growth rate of 6.1%, which is higher than the national expected decline of -1.7%, reports. Irondequoit has the highest expected median sale price growth at 10.4%.

The top markets for 2024 also had an average count of 40.2 active listings per 1,000 existing households in 2023, and, one area in particular, Riviera Beach, had the most active listings per household (59.3 per 1,000) across the top 10. Additionally, the average expected 2024 commute time for the top cities is 24 minutes, which is less than the city/town average of 30 minutes and the national rate of 29 minutes. Mattydale has the lowest average at 20 minutes.

Searching for a sense of belonging, first-time home buyers want to be close to people in a similar life stage. In this year’s top markets, the share of homeowners between the ages of 25 and 34 is 8.1% compared with the national average of 5.4%. Among the top 10 cities and towns, Riviera Beach is expected to have the largest share of young adult homeowners (10.9%).

In keeping with lifestyle, the top places on the list offer restaurants, cafes, shopping, entertainment, and more per point of interest data provided by Yelp. The top 10 have 16.6 of these businesses per 1,000 households, while the overall city/town average is 15.6. With ratios higher than 19 per 1,000 households, Cheektowaga, Grand Rapids, and Newington are considered havens for things to do.