CHARLOTTE, N.C., Dec. 2, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- In its latest study, LendingTree® analyzed the 50 US towns with populations under 50,000 with the most expensive median-home values. LendingTree then ranked the towns based on where home values were the highest and also compared home values in these towns to home values in the nation's 50 largest cities. The goal: To determine whether towns are actually less expensive than cities.
Small towns Vineyard Haven, Mass., Summit Park, Utah and Jackson, Wyo., have the most expensive home prices in the nation. The median home prices in these towns are $667,400, $598,900 and $563,100 respectively, meaning that a home in any of these areas costs about as much as a home in Los Angeles does. In fact, homes in Vineyard Haven and Summit Park are even more expensive than they are in Los Angeles.
Relative to income, homes in Vineyard Haven, Mass., Breckenridge, Colo. and Jackson, Wyo., are the most expensive. In these areas, the median home price is an average of 7.5 times higher than the median area income. This suggests that homebuyers in these towns have to stretch their budgets in order to buy a home.
Homes are the least expensive relative to median household income in Los Alamos, N.M., Gillette, Wyo. and Rock Springs, Wyo. The median home price in these areas is an average 2.7 times higher than the median area income, suggesting that homes in each town are relatively affordable. However, this isn't all that surprising given that the median income in each town is higher than the overall average for the towns featured in LendingTree's study, while home prices are lower than average.
On average, buying a home in one of the nation's 50 most expensive towns is more costly than buying a home in one of the nation's largest metros. An average of the median home prices across the towns featured in LendingTree's study is $271,224. In the nation's 50 largest cities, the average of median home prices is $269,180.
Although America's most expensive towns are often more expensive than its largest cities, people who live in towns tend to earn less income than they would in a city. The median household income across the nation's most expensive towns averages to $60,150, nearly $7,000 less than the average median household income across the nation's 50 largest cities.
Methodology Data used in this study comes from the 2017 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates (the most recent survey which has the data necessary to perform this study). For the purposes of this study, LendingTree used micropolitan level data to approximate town level data.
When determining whether or not a home is affordable, the assumption is that an income earner will be able to afford a 20% down payment on the median home value in their area, and that they will receive a mortgage loan with a rate of 4.6% (the average rate offered to Americans). By using that data, the likely monthly payment and down payment for a median-priced home in a given micropolitan area were calculated.
An "affordable" monthly mortgage payment is based on the "28% rule," which says that a person should not spend more than 28% of their yearly gross salary on yearly costs related to housing. This rule, while not necessarily applicable to everyone, is useful for homebuyers to keep in mind, as it helps to ensure that they are not overspending on their home and leaving too little money for other expenses.
By subtracting the monthly housing payment that is affordable to an income earner in the geographies highlighted in the study from the calculated housing payment that would be required to purchase a home valued at the median level, we are able to determine whether or not an average townsperson can reasonably afford to purchase a home in the town that they live in.
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