Total new-home closings: 4,980
Population: 9,554,598

The good: Increases in starts and closings in the first quarter show a strong start to 2015.
The bad: Builders report slowdowns in buyer activity, as entry-level buyers remain out of the new-home market.
The bottom line: Even with slowdowns reported and first-time buyers out of the picture, a metro area with nearly 10 million in population is going to present builders with big opportunities.

Just as the Chicago area showed signs of leveling out in fall 2014, the Windy City blew in a 15.9% year-over-year increase in new units started in the 12-month period ending the first quarter of 2015, when the annual rate of closings also rose year over year by 6.7%. But Metrostudy reports that boots on the ground give a different perspective, relaying slowdowns in buyer activity and suggesting the possibility of a dip in sales ahead. Decreases among foreclosure related activities aren’t likely to help, as resale properties have picked up the leftovers, leaving share among new-home sales flat at 3%. New-home prices also have leveled out year over year from January 2013 to January 2014, but still miss this market’s biggest potential: its first-time buyers. Any builder who finds their way into that market will strike gold.