In the wake of the housing crisis last decade, homeownership rates declined markedly. In 2005, more than 69 percent of American households owned the home they lived in. Today that rate is just 64 percent. The decline has been especially steep among young homeowners. At the end of 2015, less than 35 percent of adults under the age of 35 owned their home.
It isn't just mistrust of a volatile market that has driven young adults away from home buying. Mortgage lending practices have been tightened since the crisis, which means young people with shorter credit histories may find it harder to get a mortgage.
Another problem is affordability. Prices have now rebounded beyond their pre-recession peaks, while wages in much of the country have not shown the same growth. That can make it hard for some would-be homeowners to afford an adequate down-payment or monthly mortgage payments.
These problems are more pronounced in some areas than others. For example, the most expensive housing markets can be found in clusters on the West Coast and in the Northeast. Likewise, mortgage accessibility varies greatly depending on location.
To find the best cities for first-time homebuyers, SmartAsset looked at data on the affordability, mortgage availability and the stability of the housing market in every U.S. city with a population of more than 300,000. We considered metrics such as the number of HUD-approved lenders, the price per square foot of residential real estate and the volatility of price changes over the past five years. (Read more about the methodology.)
Two Oklahoma cities claimed top spots on the list.
No. 1 Oklahoma City
The largest city in the Sooner State, Oklahoma City rated especially well for its affordability and market stability. According to data from Zillow, the average price per square foot of residential real estate in Oklahoma City is just $77.67, 10th lowest among the 66 U.S. cities with a population of at least 300,000. That means first-time homebuyers may have an easier time finding a home that is within their budget.
At the same time, the market in Oklahoma City has been among the most stabile over the past four years. The quarterly FHFA home price index for Oklahoma City has declined (on a year-over-year basis) on just four occasions since 2010, the fifth-lowest number of any city in SmartAsset's analysis.
No. 2 Tulsa
Tulsa is a smaller and somewhat more affordable market than Oklahoma City. While it has fewer mortgage lenders than the Oklahoma capital (54 as compared with 75) the price of property is lower. The price per square foot in Tulsa is $71.83, fifth lowest of America's largest cities.
3. Indianapolis, Indiana
4. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
5. Houston, Texas
6. Omaha, Nebraska
7. Wichita, Kansas
8. San Antonio, Texas
9. Louisville, Kentucky
10. Dallas, Texas and Fort Worth, Texas