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FM high on most affordable places list

April 3, 2017 GMT

Coming on the heels of a study showing Lee County near the bottom of the most healthy places to live list (see March 31 issue of the Daily Democrat), another study shows the county’s two main cities rank high among the most affordable places to live.

According to a study done by SmartAsset using information gathered from Bankrate, the US Census Bureau, 2015 American Community Survey, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, and government websites, Fort Madison is the third most affordable city in Iowa to live in while Keokuk is sitting firmly at number 10.

There is a specific method of figuring where each city lands on the chart statewide. According to SmartAsset, there’s a lot more to home affordability than the price a homebuyer agrees to pay a seller. To find the most affordable places to buy a home, the company took an overall approach, considering closing costs, real estate taxes, homeowners insurance and mortgage rates in the analysis.

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SmartAsset 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. They 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.

The cities taken into consideration had a population of over 5,000.

Nationwide, Fort Madison is 89 and Keokuk is 371.

By the numbers:

n In Fort Madison, the average closing cost on a home is $2,018. In Keokuk, it is $1,944 compared to the state average of $2,059.

n The annual property tax in Fort Madison is $1,216. In Keokuk it is 1,259. The Iowa average is $2,140.

n Annual homeowner’s insurance is $517 in Fort Madison and $446 in Keokuk, compared to the $852 average statewide.

n The average annual mortgage payment is $3,642 in Fort Madison, $3,138 in Keokuk and $6,002 statewide.

n The median income in Fort Madison is $42,595 and in Keokuk it’s $33,608. This information was not available for the state average.