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If you are a first-time homebuyer looking for a Virginia locale, consider the Hampton Roads area.

Communities there all scored well in a new ranking of the nation’s most favorable markets for first-time buyers, conducted by WalletHub.

The data-analytics firms looked at 26 metrics in three broad categories – affordability, state of the real-estate market and quality of life – to come up with its rankings.

Henderson (Nev.) finished first overall, followed by Boise (Idaho); Thonrton (Colo.); Chesapeake (Va.); and Gilbert (Ariz.).

By comparison, three California communities – Berkeley, San Francisco and Santa Barbara – scored at the bottom of the ranking, due largely to the unaffordability of housing. Rounding out the bottom five were Detroit and New York City.

(The full list is available at

A number of other Hampton Roads-area communities joined Chesapeake in scoring well: Virginia Beach was 51st, Portsmouth 53rd, Norfolk 69th and Newport News 86th. Among other Virginia localities, Richmond was 91st and Alexandria 185th.

Among data from the rankings:

• The lowest overall cost of living was found in Laredo (Texas) and Memphis (Tenn.), with the highest in Santa Barbara and Sunnyvale (both in California) followed by the Massachusetts communities of Lynn, Quincy and Brockton.

• Akron (Ohio) had the most affordable housing, with the median home price standing at 1.9 times the median household income. In Berkeley, that ratio was a whopping 14.8.

• Yonkers (N.Y.) had the lowest property-crime rate, followed by Port St. Lucie (Fla.) The highest was found in Miami Beach, followed by Spokane (Wash.) and Springfield (Miss.).

• Westminster (Colo.) had the lowest total home-energy cost per month, at $99.29, while Honolulu has the highest, at $388.18.

• On the other hand, Honolulu had the lowest real-estate tax rate, 0.29 percent, compared to 3.79 percent for Waterbury (Conn.), which was highest.

• Among the nation’s largest cities – there were 65 ranked in the survey – Tampa and Las Vegas scored highest overall, followed by Lexington (Ky.).

Peter Colwell, a professor emeritus of finance at the University of Illinois, said prospective first-time homebuyers need to seriously consider the ramifications, positive and negative, of purchasing a property.

“Try to predict whether you will be there for several years,” he said. “There are transaction costs associated with buying and selling. If you cannot spread these costs over several years, rent instead.”

And David Harrison of the University of Central Florida said first-timers should list their priorities, but not let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

“A first home may not have everything they desire, but it should check off as many key factors as possible,” he said.

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