In Connecticut, as elsewhere across the country, it is a home buyers’ market. And that is especially prevalent in some of Connecticut’s smaller communities, and those in the central and northern parts of the state, according to an analysis by NerdWallet, a national finance website, which determined the top places for first-time homebuyers in Connecticut. The site identified the top communities for new home buyers, considering how much individuals would need to spend on a mortgage and examining the data on appreciation “to find the best locations, based on the health of the local housing market, the costs of housing, and the prosperity and safety in each community.”
“To be sure,” the website noted, “the state is not a magnet for first-time buyers based on affordability, but the places we identified stand out as being the most suitable for those looking for a foothold in the housing market.”
The top community was New Hartford, which was described as having “a population of just over 6,900, this small community was the 11th-safest among the 116 in the state we analyzed. Additionally, the select monthly ownership costs were the second-lowest among the top 10 cities, at $1,813; that’s $235 less than the median for all 116 communities.”
Runner-up was Westbrook, along the Connecticut shoreline. Westbrook had “the second-most expensive home value among the top 10. But it also had the strongest home value growth rate among all 116 communities analyzed — a positive economic sign for homebuyers,” the website indicated. “Although home values in many areas of the state fell between 2011 and 2014, they grew by 4.87% in Westbrook; that’s well above the median decline of 6.8% for all communities analyzed. Westbrook also had the lowest real estate tax rate among the top 10, at 1.15% of assessed value per year.
The top ten communities:
- New Hartford
- Windsor Locks
Of Coventry, the third-ranked community, the website said: “Homeowners here see median monthly ownership costs of $1,883, which is $165 less than the median of all communities analyzed. Among the top 10 locations, it takes the third-shortest amount of time to save for a down payment in Coventry (19.86 years). With a crime rating of "safe," low poverty rates and home values nearly $20,000 less than the state median, Coventry could be an ideal location for first-time homebuyers if they can find employment within commuting distance.”
The fourth-ranked town, Berlin, was cited for its population growth, “the third-highest of all 116 communities analyzed, rising 3.34% between 2011 and 2014 — much higher than the median population growth of 0.5% for all places analyzed. The median home value here as of 2014 was $286,800, slightly higher than the median of all places analyzed.”
Colchester, with a median age of 39, was described as the youngest among the to 10, and Windsor Locks, home of Bradley International Airport, was highlighted for the affordability of its homes, “the least expensive” among the top communities.
Rounding out the top twenty were South Windsor, Canton, Haddam, Suffield, Glastonbury, Burlington, Tolland, East Hampton, Southington and Lebanon. A total of 116 communities were ranked in the analysis, with Stamford, Ansonia, Waterbury, New Haven, and Bridgeport at the bottom of the list.
For their calculations, the website assumed a first-time homebuyer in Connecticut earns an annual income of $73,361, the 2014 state median for households headed by residents ages 25 to 44. They also assumed a personal savings rate of 4.8 percent, based on the U.S. 10-year average as measured by the Federal Reserve Bank. Assuming the homebuyers are starting with nothing in the bank, they then estimated how many years it would take to save for a 20 percent down payment
By following the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's recommendation that homeowners shouldn't allocate more than 28% of their gross monthly income to housing costs, NerdWallet analysts determined that a first-time homebuyer in Connecticut could afford to spend $1,712 a month on ownership costs — mortgage, taxes, utilities and insurance.