• Houston ranked fifth on SmartAsset's list this year, but was absented from last year's ranking.
  • Home prices in Houston are forecasted to remain flat through September.
  • Houston has the largest concentrated of HUD-approved mortgage lenders nationally.

Among metros with a population exceeding 300,000, Houston has been named the fifth-best city for first-time homebuyers.

According to analysis from SmartAsset, a primary reason for Houston’s ranking is its number of HUD-approved mortgage lenders, 186. This total is the largest consortium of lenders within any major market nationally, which gives residents more options when shopping for a mortgage.

Houston mortgage lenders on average fund 69 percent of a loan.

In determining its list of top cities for first-time buyers, SmartAsset also eyed markets’ real estate values and the volatility of those prices.

The average Houston home is said to be valued at $87.50 per square foot. Since 2010, only five times have quarterly home prices dipped (depreciated) on a year-over-year basis.

Of note, SmartAsset did not rank Houston as a top market for first-time buyers in 2015.

Flat home prices in Houston

In what would appear to be good news for first-time buyers, existing home price appreciation in Houston is expected to be largely flat through September. in February the median home price was at $200,000, which was unchanged on a year-over-year basis.

At the same time home prices are higher than they’re ever been, with several sources stating home are 20 percent overvalued in the market. Overvaluation could mean the metro is at risk for home price declines, which again would seem to benefit new buyers during a time when they could use it.

“Housing market conditions are becoming increasingly competitive across the state, especially for first-time homebuyers,” said Leslie Rouda Smith, chairman of the Texas Association of Realtors, in a recent release.

Last month existing home sales activity in the low price point ranges, where first-timers typically play, were mixed in Houston.

Activity in the $150,000 to $249,000 range rose by nearly 10 percent on a year-over-year basis, according to the Houston Association of Realtors, while sales of $80,000 to $149,999 homes dropped by more than seven percent.

Email Erik Pisor

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