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Estherville is fourth most affordable city in Iowa, study says

By Staff | Mar 28, 2017

Estherville’s Sweet Corn Days celebration in August is the biggest of the year and one of the reasons residents enjoy this community. File photo

For the third year in a row, the financial technology company SmartAsset has ranked the most affordable places to live in Iowa. The communities are ranked on an Affordability Index weighing property taxes, homeowners’ insurance fees, and mortgage payments relative to income.

Oelwein, Cherokee, and Fort Madison took up the top three spots, and Estherville came in at the number four spot, sliding past fifth-ranked Iowa Falls by 0.15 of a point.

Clarinda, Algona, Ottumwa, Marshalltown, and Keokuk round out the top ten in the study.

Describing their study’s methodology, SmartAsset said, “There’s a lot more to home affordability than the price a homebuyer agrees to pay the seller. To find the most affordable places to buy a home, SmartAsset took a holistic approach, considering closing costs, real estate taxes, homeowners insurance and mortgage rates in our analysis.

“Specifically, we found the total cost over five years of these four expenses-closing costs, taxes, insurance and mortgage payments-for the average home in every county in the U.S. and every city with a population greater than 5,000. We then took that five-year cost as a proportion of median household income in each county and city to determine affordability.

“The most affordable cities and counties were those in which total housing costs on an average house accounted for the smallest proportion of the median income.”

At the same time, the U.S. Census Bureau released an estimate report for the state of Iowa.

The Bureau indicates Iowa’s population is experiencing continued growth, but that growth is concentrated in 23 out of Iowa’s 99 counties. Emmet County’s population was 9,658 on July 1, 2016. This represents a drop of 334, or two percent. Kossuth County declined by 2.8 percent to 15, 141, and the number of people living in Palo Alto County declined by four percent to 9,047. The only surrounding county experiencing an increase in population was Dickinson County to the west. They hit 17,243 in population for an increase of 576 people, 3.5 percent since 2010.

Here is a link to the study by SmartAsset: smartasset.com/mortgage/how-much-house-can-i-afford#iowa