The affordability of housing in the Valley has been a constant challenge for first-time homebuyers since the start of this decade. The Phoenix metro area continues to be one of the fastest-growing cities as more people migrate from other parts of the United States, so it’s tough to find the most affordable cities for homebuyers. In many cities in the Valley, homes are out of reach for first-time buyers; however, the housing market has cooled down over the last year and some cities have even shifted into a buyers’ market. There are opportunities for first-time home buyers depending on where they want to live.
A common saying in the real estate industry is “drive until you can qualify” meaning that as we move farther away from the most densely populated areas of our community land starts getting cheaper for home builders which means homes are more affordable for buyers. We are seeing more communities on the outskirts of the valley that are seeing high amounts of inventory and not enough people to buy houses in the area.
Most affordable cities for homebuyers
Cities such as Buckeye, Queen Creek, Casa Grande, Coolidge, and Maricopa all have available homes for under the average Phoenix home price.
These areas are seeing a lot of growth with places such as Casa Grande and Buckeye continuing to see builders buy more land and build more houses. These areas are also seeing more shops and restaurants opening up around them and providing residents with many of the same amenities they are looking for in more expensive areas of the Valley.
Living away from the most populated parts of the Valley is becoming more popular as more home buyers work from home. If prospective home buyers don’t have to worry about a lengthy commute five days a week then they will be more likely to buy a more cost-effective home farther from where they work or farther from the most expensive communities.
The fact that you get more value per square footage in places such as Maricopa and Queen Creek means there is a benefit to living in the outer parts of the Valley even if those areas might not have the most thing to do.
If a home buyer does need to commute to work then they are going to need to weigh the cost of gas with the price of the home. The overall cost of the home should not be the only consideration.
Phoenix neighborhoods are not out of reach for new buyers
The most popular areas of metro phoenix such as Scottsdale, Mesa, Downtown Phoenix, and Paradise Valley are going to be out of the price range of many first-time home buyers. However, that does not mean you have to move far away from Phoenix city life. There are neighborhoods near downtown Phoenix that are affordable for those willing to put more cash down or have a cosigner for a loan.
Central and Northwest Phoenix remain affordable housing options for many buyers. Places such as Laveen have grown over the years as more and more developers look to build homes around the new Loop 202 South Mountain Freeway. This area represents a good middle ground home price. Homebuyers are paying a bit more, but you live closer to the city and have a shorter commute to work than many people.
It is also important to consider that new homebuyers need to consider more than just the price of a home. You might be able to make a home more affordable in an area such as Laveen if you are able to buy down the interest rate rather than lower the total cost of the home. A $20,000 difference in home price might be an $80 difference in your monthly mortgage payment, but getting a lower interest rate will save you more money in the long run.
The housing market in the Valley has cooled down, but affordability is still an issue for many new buyers. However, there are still options for prospective first-time homebuyers if they are willing to live in some of the buyers’ markets that have popped up or if they are willing to put a bit more down on a house in Central or Northwest Phoenix. The housing market can be intimidating for new buyers but they do have options.
Rebecca Hidalgo Rains is the Managing Broker for Integrity All Stars @ Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices. She has worked in Phoenix Arizona Real Estate for nearly 30 years helping Arizonans find their dream home.