March 12, 2014

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Article

Best Cities for Homeownership in Utah Revealed

By Rachel Madison

March 12, 2014

Utah residents who are considering buying a home have a lot of options when it comes to choosing a city to live in. Consumer finance site NerdWallet recently analyzed the 47 cities in Utah with populations greater than 15,000 to determine which cities are the best to buy a home.

Maggie Clark, an analyst for NerdWallet, said the San Francisco-based company is a free online service that people across the nation can use to get information about topics they’ll likely be making big financial decisions on, like homeownership, credit cards, student loans, auto loans and health insurance.

“We started doing this homeownership study as part of a national series, so we did a national study first and now we’re going through and applying the same methodology to all 50 states,” she said. “People don’t usually buy homes in the winter, but they think about buying in the spring and summer. As people start thinking about moving, we’re hoping this report helps people know where to move in their area.”

The analysis of the 47 Utah cities answers three main questions and narrows it down to the top 10 contenders. The questions are: Are homes available? Can Utah residents afford to live there? Is the area growing?

“We used the homeownership rate [and availability] to determine that a community is amenable to homebuyers,” Clark said. “The second question covers the affordability metric. The standard is that you shouldn’t spend more than 30 percent of your income on housing costs. To get to that we look at the median household income and monthly homeowner costs and figure out what percent of income is spent on homeowner costs. Most places were below 30 percent in Utah.”

The last question, regarding the growth of an area, signals that a community is drawing people there, Clark said.

“It signals health and vitality in a town,” she said.

Besides answering a few questions, NerdWallet also used a specific methodology to determine which of Utah’s cities were the best for homeownership.

“There are three things that are weighted equally; each is one-third,” Clark said. “One third is the homeownership rate, the second third is a combination of the monthly homeownership costs and the median home value, and the last third is population change.”

Clark said in comparing Utah to other states across the country, she learned that Utah’s homeownership costs as a percentage of the owner’s income were generally much lower than in other states.

The top 10 best cities to buy a home in Utah according to NerdWallet are:

Saratoga Springs. The city had the highest population growth on NerdWallet’s list at 21.8 percent.

Eagle Mountain. The homeownership rate of 87.6 percent and homeowner costs at 27.4 percent of household income make home buying in Eagle Mountain easy and affordable.

Syracuse. Syracuse is extremely buyer-friendly with 92.5 percent of its residents owning their homes—the highest rate on NerdWallet’s list—and contributing only 23.5 percent of their household incomes to homeowner costs—the lowest percentage on NerdWallet’s list.

Herriman. The second-fastest-growing city on NerdWallet’s list, Herriman grew by 19 percent between 2010 and 2012. Strong consumer demographics, like a median age of 24.7 and a median household income of $76,509, predict continued economic growth.

Clinton. Clinton has the lowest median selected monthly homeowner costs at $1,376, and 85.7 percent of its residents are homeowners.

Lehi. Lehi is growing rapidly at a rate of 12.2 percent and is centered between the two largest metro areas in Utah.

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