Buying your first home in the DC area? There’s good and bad news

Young homebuyers in the Washington area are struggling with a limited number of homes on the market and rising costs, but overall the D.C. metro ranks well for first-time buyers, according to Bankrate, at least among big cities.

Out of 50 metro areas Bankrate analyzed, Washington ranked only 26 overall, but it ranks 4th-best among the 10 largest metro areas.

The bad news first: Washington ranks 38th for affordability and 31st for market tightness.

But the D.C.-area’s high score for safety (3) and better than average job market (20) earns it its 4th place among the 10 biggest cities for first-time buyers.

Bankrate’s rankings are based on many factors, including affordability, job market, the number of listings, culture and safety.

Among the 50 largest metros, San Francisco ranks as the worst metro for first-time homebuyers. California is home to 6 of the 10 worst metros.

San Francisco ranks second-to-last for affordability and second-to-last for market tightness. It also scores low for safety.

San Jose ranks last for affordability. Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Jose, San Bernardino and San Diego all rank at the bottom.

San Bernardino has the worst job market of the 50 cities studied.

Seattle is the only city outside of California to rank inside the bottom five, at No. 46.

“Young homebuyers better be ready to compromise,” said Bankrate data analyst Adrian Garcia.

“Affordability and convenience might be the trade off to moving to a major metro with a little less culture or popularity. Buyers have to find the balance that works for them and their financial situation.”

The best city for first-time buyers, according to Bankrate, is Pittsburgh, with first place rankings for both affordability and safety. Pittsburgh also scores well for the number of homes for sale, culture and a good job market.

Raleigh, North Carolina, Oklahoma City, Hartford, Connecticut and St. Louis are the rest of the five best metros for first-time buyers.

Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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