These California Markets Are Tough for First-Time Buyers in 2017

California has some of the worst housing markets for first-time home buyers, according to a recent report. Orlando and Tampa, on the other hand, are two of the best markets for those buying their first home.

First-time buyers in Florida are enjoying favorable market conditions right now, with relative affordability and low competition. But in California, not so much.

A recent analysis by the real estate data company Zillow found that California is home to some of the worst housing markets for first-time home buyers. San Diego, Los Angeles, San Jose and San Francisco were all at the bottom of the list.

Related: 10 markets with inventory shortages

Best and Worst Housing Markets for First-Time Buyers

On May 12, 2017, Zillow published a report that listed some of the best (and worst) real estate markets for first-time buyers. The “best” locations where defined as those with an abundance of affordable homes to choose from, and a lower level of competition.

The company also considered the so-called “break-even horizon,” which is the number of years a person would need to live in a home before buying made more financial sense than renting it.

Here are some highlights from their report:

  • The Southeast and Midwest offer some of the best housing markets for first-time home buyers, as of spring 2017.
  • Two Florida cities, Orland and Tampa, topped the rankings as best cities for those purchasing their first house. These cities have comparatively low home prices, plenty of inventory, and a relatively short break-even horizon.
  • The four worst housing markets for first-time home buyers were all located in California. These cities have much higher prices (on average), severe inventory shortages in some cases, and fierce competition.
  • California’s San Francisco Bay Area is one of the toughest areas for first-timers. In terms of dollar amount, a 5% down payment in the Bay Area is larger than a 20% down payment in most of the best markets for first-time home buyers.

California Markets Are Tough to Break Into

At the bottom of Zillow’s list of tough markets for first-time buyers, we find the following California metro areas:

San Diego — According to the report, San Diego had a median home price of $532,000. That was the lowest of the four “worst” housing markets for first-time buyers. But the break-even horizon in San Diego was 4 years, 6 months. Theoretically, that’s how long a buyer would need to stay in a home before it made more sense financially than renting. The economists at Zillow expect home prices in the area to rise by 0.9% between now and spring 2018.

Los Angeles — The median home value in Los Angeles was $601,900, as of May 2017. The break-even point (where buying becomes a better value than renting) was similar to San Diego’s. The company’s one-year forecast for Los Angeles home prices called for a modest gain of 0.8% over the next 12 months.

San Jose — With a median price of $986,000, San Jose is one of the most expensive real estate markets in California, and one of the toughest for first-time home buyers to break into. The break-even horizon there is longer than five years. Tight inventory and high demand make San Jose a highly competitive housing market for first-time buyers in 2017.

San Francisco — This metro area’s median home price was $843,200, according to Zillow. Within the city itself, the median value has risen above $1 million. The company’s analysts expect home prices in the area to remain more or less flat over the next year, so buyers probably shouldn’t expect much equity growth. The San Francisco real estate market has some serious affordability issues in 2017, so home prices there are basically bumping into a ceiling right now.

Now Florida, on the Other Hand…

At the other end of the spectrum, we find housing markets with less competition and lower prices. These metro areas are much more accessible for those buying a first house.

The best real estate markets for first-time buyers in 2017 include the following:

  1. Orlando, Fla.
  2. Tampa, Fla.
  3. Indianapolis, Ind.
  4. Las Vegas, Nev.
  5. San Antonio, Texas
  6. Pittsburgh, Pa.
  7. Atlanta, Ga.
  8. Detroit, Mich.
  9. Dallas, Texas
  10. Cleveland, Ohio

The real estate markets shown above are generally less competitive, with plenty of affordable properties for sale. Additionally, the company’s forecasts suggest that first-time home buyers in these cities will see strong price growth over the next year, allowing them to accumulate equity.