Homebuyers looking to live outside of the bustling big city should turn their attention 70 miles north of Austin: Killeen has the best housing market in the country for first-time buyers, according to a new study by SmartAsset.
Killeen provides the three qualities potential homeowners prioritize the most: affordability, low competition, and growth potential, the report says. Median home prices there were sitting under $253,000 at the end of May, and the city has a one-year growth forecast of 7.4 percent.
"A home purchase can serve as a building block for the homeowner’s financial life – and the circumstances of the local market can make or break the deal," the report's author says. "First-time homebuyers may look for a less competitive market to have a better chance of getting a realistic offer accepted. They also need affordability to position themselves to grow their equity and a community within which to build a network."
Killeen is best known for its close proximity to Fort Cavazos (formerly Fort Hood), the third-largest military base in the country. SmartAsset says the Killeen-Temple-Fort Cavazos metro area also boasts a "reasonably young population," and cites the median income of a resident at $63,458.
Killeen's No. 1 ranking in 2023 is a major improvement over its No. 89 ranking in SmartAsset's 2022 report.
Texas cities dominated the top 10 in the report, with Waco, about 60 miles northeast of Killeen, earning No. 6 (Waco did not appear in the 2022 report). Other Texas housing markets that earned high-ranking spots include Wichita Falls (No. 2) in North Texas, and two Rio Grande Valley cities: McAllen (No. 3), and Brownsville (No. 8).
The top 10 best places for first time homebuyers are:
- No. 1 – Killeen, Texas
- No. 2 – Wichita Falls, Texas
- No. 3 – McAllen, Texas
- No. 4 – St. Joseph, Missouri
- No. 5 – Cape Coral, Florida
- No. 6 – Waco, Texas
- No. 7 – Huntsville, Alabama
- No. 8 – Brownsville, Texas
- No. 9 – Green Bay, Wisconsin
- No. 10 – Jackson, Tennessee
SmartAsset's study ranked 185 metro areas based on their affordability, growth potential, housing competition, and population.