Phoenix, a longtime bastion of low home prices, fell just outside the top 20 cities in the U.S. as a good place for first-time homebuyers. An index created by SmartAsset that ranked cities in terms of mortgage lenders, volatility and average price per square foot among several other factors, found Phoenix ranked No. 21 in the U.S.Topping the list were Pittsburgh, Oklahoma City and Omaha, Nebraska. Pittsburgh received the top nod due to its high percentage of loans funded and low average cost per square foot. The cost per square foot was one of the high markers for Phoenix, which has seen prices steadily rising during the last two years after the Great Recession wiped out much of the home equity in the Valley. While many areas have recovered to pre-recession price levels, others have not. Yet SmartAsset found Phoenix with an average price of $130 per square foot. That equates to roughly $221,000 for a 1,700-square-foot home.