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The Biggest Little City just made a top 10 list again.

Reno was included recently by national lender Money Source in its list of top 10 cities in 2016 for first-time homebuyers. The inclusion comes short after Reno was ranked the 7th most popular destination for movers nationwide by a United Van Lines survey.

The Money Source list, which does not rank the cities in order, looked at trends based on Money Source loan applications nationwide, as well as city-specific data such as median home prices, employment, business activity and quality of life. Other cities in the list include Orlando, Fla.; Boise, Idaho; Tacoma, Wash; and Des Moines Iowa. Money Source specializes in Federal Housing Administration, Veterans Administration and USDA loan applications, which mostly involve first-time homebuyers.

Despite having the highest unemployment rate of the cities included, Reno still managed to join the Money Source list. Other factors cited for Reno’s addition include the Tesla effect, proximity to California, ample recreation, a burgeoning food and culture scene, and the presence of the University of Nevada, Reno.

The high marks for Reno are a far cry from just a few years ago, when the recession and real estate market bust impacted the area more strongly than most other regions.

“Reno’s turning the corner right now,” said Darius Mirshahzadeh, Money Source CEO. “You’re seeing a turnaround in the real estate market and also seeing things like the Tesla Gigafactory being built there, some startup activity as well as what seems to be a really vibrant community.”

Reno’s hot real estate market, however, is also raising concerns in some circles about access and affordability. Housing affordability was cited as one key concern at the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada’s annual Community and Investors Luncheon last Thursday, with home prices doubling in the past four years after bottoming out just below $150,000. Data from the University of Nevada, Reno’s Center for Regional Studies also show that median home prices are starting to approach levels that would be unaffordable for the area’s median family income, especially if wages do not keep up with housing appreciation.

Mirshahzadeh, however, says he does not foresee a repeat of the housing bubble collapse at this time.

“You had more exotic products (during the boom) that allowed people to buy more house than they can afford,” Mirshahzadeh said. “Today’s lending environment just won’t support that aggressive growth.”

MONEY SOURCE TOP 10 CITIES FOR HOMEBUYERS

Orlando, Fla.
Des Moines, Iowa
Baton Rouge, La.
Tulsa, Okla.
Riverside, Calif.
Chandler, Ariz.
Amarillo, Texas
Reno, Nev.
Tacoma, Wash.
Boise, Idaho

Jason Hidalgo