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County ranked as one of the best places to own home

Chilton County was recently rated one of the best places to own a home in Alabama. A New York financial technology company compiled a list of 10 counties in Alabama, and Chilton County was ranked No. 4 on the list. (Photo by Anthony Richards)

Chilton County was recently rated one of the best places to own a home in Alabama. A New York financial technology company compiled a list of 10 counties in Alabama, and Chilton County was ranked No. 4 on the list.
(Photo by Anthony Richards)

A financial technology company recently rated Chilton County as one of the best places to own a home in Alabama.

Chilton County was ranked No. 4 in the state as SmartAsset gathered data on average rents and home prices, and compared buying to renting in every county in America.

According to Steve Sabato with SmartAsset, a New York company, the study was finished in December 2015.

Sabato said this is the second year for the study to be conducted and the first year for Chilton County to rank in the top 10.

The methodology used in determining the rankings included SmartAsset gathering data on average rents and home prices, and compared buying to renting in every county in America.

“Specifically, we compared the total costs of buying and renting a typical home or rental in each county, for a household earning $100,000 a year,” Sabato said. “For the ‘buy’ scenario, we made the following assumptions: a mortgage rate of 4.5 percent, closing costs of $2,000, and a down payment of 20 percent. For each county, we found the breakeven point in the buy vs. rent decision—the point at which the total costs of renting become greater than the total costs of buying.”

Sabato said the counties with the shortest time to break even are the best places to buy.

Chilton County Industrial Development Coordinator Fred Crawford said he thought the survey was important information for the county.

“From the standpoint of showing that as we increase jobs in Chilton County, the people that move in to the county or upgrade, have affordable housing,” Crawford said. “The security of having your own home is important to family life. That goes back to what it takes to recruit industry and to expand industry is not only the good jobs, but the quality of life and affordable housing is part of quality of life.”

Crawford said he wasn’t surprised to see Chilton County on the list, and thought the counties represented in the survey showed that parts of Alabama are “holding their own.”

“The housing market has not increased so high that it hurts the small business owner or worker in a business,” Crawford said. “This is what industry looks for when they look at a place, or if they look to expand a business.”

Diane Knight with Real Estate Associates said she has seen an increase recently with individuals contacting her to relocate from other states.

“I have found that a lot of people are looking into buying homes in this area for our natural resources such as coal and natural gas,” Knight said. “People are looking for new job opportunities, and they are moving here and banking on us to know the local ins and outs of real estate. They want to know the best places to live and the best schools.”

Knight said a common scenario with many individuals looking to move to Chilton County is a married couple that works in either Birmingham or Montgomery picking Chilton County as a centrally located place to live.

“It is convenient for them to find something in between,” Knight said. “We have a central location which allows a lot of flexibility for those looking to commute.”

Patty Bingham with RealtySouth said she has also found that individuals are showing more interest in moving to Chilton County recently.

“With the new hospital coming in, we are growing by leaps and bounds,” Bingham said. “We get home buyers from out of state, from Birmingham and from Montgomery.”

Bingham said a common attraction for people looking to move to Chilton County is the nice weather.

“Florida is so hot and humid, and if you go north you have to deal with the cold,” Bingham said. “Here in Chilton County, the weather is always very mild and pleasant, and people enjoy that. The worst thing we have is tornadoes, and we haven’t had a lot of those in a while.”

Bingham said the number of people looking to live in Chilton County has increased with commuters who often work in either Birmingham or Montgomery.

“People love living here because they get the laid-back atmosphere,” Bingham said. “You can get a larger home site as well, which offers you more privacy. You aren’t quite jammed up in a concrete world. Even our subdivisions are not as tightly fit as a lot of subdivisions in other areas throughout the state.”

Below is a breakdown for the top 10 counties in Alabama:

•Elmore County was number one on the list with a 2.0 break-even year, $621 being the average monthly mortgage payment, $1,162 being the average monthly rent, $153,105 being the average home price and 90.9 being the rent vs. buy index.

•Fayette County ranked second on the list and had a 2.0 break-even year, the average monthly mortgage payment being $373, the average monthly rent being $786, average home price being $92,056 and rent vs. buy index being 90.8.

•Marengo County ranked third and had a 2.0 break-even year, the average monthly mortgage payment was $378, the average monthly rent was $796, the average home price was $93,228 and the rent vs. buy index being 90.6.

•Chilton County ranked fourth and had a 2.0 break-even year, the average monthly mortgage payment was $387, the average monthly rent was $815, the average home price was $95,453 and the rent vs. buy index being 90.6.

•Clay County ranked fifth and had a 2.0 break-even year, the average monthly mortgage payment was $381, average monthly rent was $803, the average home price was $94,047 and the rent vs. buy index was 90.5.

•Randolph County ranked sixth and had a 2.1 break-even year, the average monthly mortgage payment was $388, the average monthly rent was $817, the average home price was $95,687 and the rent vs. buy index was 90.4.

•Winston County ranked seventh and had a 2.1 break-even year, the average monthly mortgage payment was $389, the average monthly rent was $820, the average home price was $96,038 and the rent vs. buy index was 90.3.

•Sumter County ranked eighth and had a 2.1 break-even year, the average monthly mortgage payment was $391, the average monthly rent was $823, the average home price was $96,390 and the rent vs. buy index was 90.3.

•Macon County ranked ninth and had a 2.1 break-even year, the average monthly mortgage payment was $369, the average monthly rent was $777, the average home price was $91,002 and the rent vs. buy index was 90.3.

•Lauderdale County ranked in tenth place and had a 2.1 break-even year, the average monthly mortgage payment was $412, the average monthly rent was $867, the average home price was $101, 543 and the rent vs. buy index was 90.1.