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According to the National Association of Realtors, existing-homes sales surged in February to the highest level in 11 months, jumping more than 11.8 percent to 5.51 million units sold.
The numbers even surprised many analysts who predicted a rate of 5.1 million units.
And, to top it off, with Manhattan real estate reporting its longest losing streak in 30 years, and its worst first quarter since the financial crisis, according to Douglas Elliman, it could be an especially good time to buy, particularly for first-timers.
But if you're a new kid on the real estate buying block, a new survey finds that prospective first-time homebuyers on a budget should probably avoid the West Coast and the Rocky Mountains and opt for cheaper metro areas.
To determine the list of best cities for first-time homebuyers, GoBankingRates ranked a number of key factors, including median list price, required down payment information and each city's foreclosure rate along with the salary needed to afford a home in the area.
Here are the top five areas that ranked the highest.
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Downtown Indianapolis skyline with the Depew Memorial Fountain, obelisk, park, and the Indiana World War Memorial in the foreground.
Median list price: $221,990
Down payment required: $44,398
Salary needed to afford a home: $46,520
Foreclosure rate: 0.293%
Housing opportunity index: 86.1
Panoramic view of Pittsburgh and the 3 rivers, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA
Median list price: $169,900
Down payment required: $33,980
Salary needed to afford a home: $36,400
Foreclosure rate: 0.0497%
Housing opportunity index: 81.1
3. Virginia Beach, Virginia
Virginia Beach Town Center skyline. Virginia Beach Town Center is in the central business district of Virginia Beach and functions as it’s downtown. Virginia Beach is part of the Hampton Roads area.
Median list price: $272,985
Down payment required: $54,597
Salary needed to afford a home: $67,080
Foreclosure rate: 0.0354%
Housing opportunity index: 73.8
4. St. Louis
The St. Louis city skyline with Gateway Arch photographed at sunset.
Median list price: $189,900
Down payment required: $37,980
Salary needed to afford a home: $40,380
Foreclosure rate: 0.0408%
Housing opportunity index: 79.7
5. Buffalo, New York
Downtown Buffalo skyline along the banks of Lake Erie at night. Buffalo is a city in the U.S. state of New York and the seat of Erie County located in Western New York on the eastern shores of Lake Erie. Buffalo is known for its close proximity to Ni
Median list price: $161,450
Down payment required: $32,290
Salary needed to afford a home: $34,760
Foreclosure rate: 0.0499%
Housing opportunity index: 81.7