Three PA cities land in®’s top 10 list for first-time homebuyers

By Kelly Leighton | April 21, 2016 | 4 min. read

Three Pennsylvania cities were recently named to the top ten best cities for first-time homebuyers, according to®.

Allentown, Harrisburg and Philadelphia all landed on the list, thanks to their affordability, inventory, mortgage availability, job growth and livability.

Philadelphia was the highest Pennsylvania city, coming in second place after Portland, ME. With a median home price of $222,000, and an unemployment rate of 4.8 percent, the City of Brotherly Love is an ideal location for first-time homebuyers.® reports that nearly 27,000 people are moving from New York City to Philadelphia each year, partly due to the affordable real estate prices in a big place that still has a big-city feel. Additionally, violent crime has decreased 20 percent from 2009 to 2014, making the city feel safer.

“When you look at the criteria it is readily apparent why Philadelphia got the award. The first two are affordability and inventory. Philadelphia developed a tremendous housing stock during the years when it was an industrial giant. A significant portion of the housing was workforce housing in great neighborhoods. These two- and three-bedroom homes are perfect for first-time homebuyers. Affordability has been enhanced through the city’s tax abatement program, as well as affordable real estate taxes,” said Greater Philadelphia Association of Realtors® President Paul Garvey.

“Another criteria was job growth. Numerous industries in Philadelphia are growing, including energy, telecommunications and life science. Companies like Comcast and Spark Therapeutics are just two examples of growing firms. This growth has contributed to Philadelphia having the largest percentage gain of millennials of the country’s 20 largest cities. Livability and quality of life in Philadelphia has also been recognized around the globe. The only World Heritage City in the United States, number 1 rated city for culture by Travel & Leisure Magazine, a top five walkable/bikeable city are just a few of the plaudits the city has received,” he added. “We are honored to be recognized as a top ten city for new homebuyers and encourage everyone to visit, enjoy our restaurants and cultural scene and see for themselves why.”

Meanwhile, Allentown nabbed fourth place on the list. Thanks to an “aggressive economic redevelopment,” Allentown’s median home price of $188,000 and unemployment rate of 5 percent, the city should look pretty good to first-time homebuyers.® also noted that Allentown boasts Pennsylvania’s highest beer production by volume, and that the Lehigh Valley area is considered the state’s fastest-growing wine region.

“Our Allentown and Lehigh Valley region has seen a surge of first-time homebuyers, primarily due to the substantial amount of commercial development and businesses that have created fantastic employment opportunities. With the stabilization of lower gas prices, we have also attracted many New York and New Jersey buyers. I believe that our geographic location has spurred much interest with being only about an hour from Philadelphia and New York City. It truly is a great place to call home,” said Greater Lehigh Valley Realtors® President Chris Raad.

Finally, Harrisburg landed in sixth overall. The median home price here is $168,000, lower than the other two areas, and the unemployment of 4.2 percent is also the lowest of the three.® noted that at least 18 tech companies have developed in the city in the past few years, and the live entertainment in the mid-state also can’t be beat.

“I just recently had a couple of first-time homebuyers that decided to leave Philadelphia and move here to downtown Harrisburg. They felt that they wanted to be in the city to be able to walk downtown, walk to their jobs, enjoy the nightlife so close by as well as the river and FNB Park. They get to enjoy affordable home prices and just want to be where the action is and felt that Harrisburg offers that to them,” said Greater Harrisburg Association of Realtors® President Jodi Diego.

“With the first-time homebuyers, we’re within walking distance to nightlife, restaurants and shopping, and recreation, as well as home prices being affordable, that’s what I feel is appealing to the first-time homebuyer,” she added.

In addition to the Pennsylvania cities, Portland, ME, St. Louis, MO, Albany, NY, Baton Rouge, LA, Dayton, OH, Minneapolis, MN and Virginia Beach, VA rounded out the top ten list.

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