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What "starter homes" look like in major US cities

Sarah Menendez Mar 22, 2016
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

What’s a “starter home,” anyway? Maybe it’s a fixer-upper, maybe it’s just a stepping stone, often it’s a home for first-time buyers. According to a study by Trulia, the number of starter homes on the market has dropped by nearly 44 percent since 2012. The percent of income that a starter home buyer needs to pay in order to buy the home has increased from 32.2 percent to 37.7 percent in the last four years. 

Price has increased, too, bringing the national median listing price for a starter home from $116,932 in 2012 to $154,156 in 2016. But in some metropolitan areas, the average price for a starter home is double the national average.  Most starter homes listed are actually apartments, condos, flats and town homes for sale. Starter homes in major metropolitan areas tend to be away from the city’s core and vary in price.

Here’s a look at five major metropolitan areas in the United States and what a starter home might cost there:

  1. New York

     Median listing price for a starter home: $214,000


Los Angeles

Most of the listings for “starter homes” in the LA area are in South Los Angeles, away from the metropolitan center of the city. 

Median listing price for a starter home:  $329,000



Most of the listings for starter homes in the Chicago area in the southern half of the greater metropolitan area. 

Median listing price for a starter home: $97,950



Listings for the Houston area are dispersed outside of the metropolitan core of the city. Many “starter home” listings are actual houses in this area. 

Median listing price for a starter home:  $92,575



Listings in Philadelphia are cheaper than other metropolitan areas. 

Median listing price for a starter home: : $59,700


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