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Greenville ranked No. 1 city for young homebuyers

In a recent study done by NerdWallet.com, Greenville was voted as the No. 1 city for first-time homebuyers.

In a recent study done by NerdWallet.com, Greenville was voted as the No. 1 city for first-time homebuyers. (FreeStockImages.com)

By Beth Hyatt
The Greenville Advocate

When you think of a great place to live, what attributes come to mind? Maybe it’s the availability of restaurants and shops? Maybe it’s the school systems or church community? Or maybe it’s something as simple as knowing the name of almost every person you pass on the sidewalk? If these are what come to mind, then look no further than the City of Greenville.

In a recent study done by NerdWallet.com, Greenville was voted as the No. 1 city for first-time homebuyers.

See the study here.

The study focused on information about housing and demographic data gathered from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. Greenville’s ranking was based on three factors: value appreciation, housing cost and prosperity and safety. Value appreciation was 40 percent of the score, housing cost was 40 percent and prosperity and safety was 20 percent.

“To determine value appreciation, we looked at the average growth rate for both population and home value from 2010-2013,” said Kamran Rosen, content analyst and economic writer for NerdWallet. “To determine housing cost, we averaged the median property tax rate, how long it would take a first-time homebuyer to save 20 percent of the median home price and the difference in selected monthly ownership costs of each location and the recommended $1,114 in Alabama. To determine property, we looked at the percentage of families living in poverty in each city. For safety, a crime risk index was provided by NeighborhoodScout. We grouped the scores from 0-100, into categories of ‘most safe,’ ‘safe,’ ‘less safe’ and ‘least safe.’”

The statistics fell in favor of Greenville in this study, and local realtors also see the benefits of living in Greenville. When looking at the appeal of a small town, it is easy to see why so many would want to live here. Greenville has a good supply of shops, restaurants, churches, social activities and schools that are continually improving and looking for more ways to raise the educational bar. Plus, many who move to or back to Greenville are close to friends and family or are getting ready to start a family of their own. The family-friendly environment of the town draws visitors in and makes the feel at home.

“It’s definitely a strong buyers market right now. We have a huge amount of listings on the market. The property prices are down, so you can get a lot more house in Greenville for the price than you could get in Birmingham or Mobile. So, it’s a great way for first time homebuyers to get more house than they could afford in other places,” said Glenn Cooper, owner of First Realty of Greenville.

Cooper believes that first time homebuyers are attracted to Greenville because of the quaintness of the town, the good housing prices and the variety of available homes.

Connie Coleman, broker/owner RE/MAX Camellia Realty thinks that Greenville is a great place for young homebuyers not only because of the low cost of housing, but because many mortgage companies offer certain deals to first time buyers.  “Part of that has to do with programs that mortgage companies offer for homebuyers. So, it may not be a universal situation of getting concessions from the mortgage company if you are a first time homebuyer, but that is something I know that mortgage companies do. It does help young people to buy homes that otherwise would not be able to because sometimes it comes in the form of 100 percent financing. Again, that would depend on the mortgage company,” said Coleman.

Cooper and Coleman both believe younger homebuyers would be more likely to flock to Greenville if there were more jobs available in the area. Many who live in Greenville commute to surrounding cities for work, which takes away business that could be going to Greenville.

“It would be great if we could get to the point where there would be more higher paying jobs available. So, that more of the young people would choose and be able, financially, to come back and live in Greenville,” said Coleman.

Both realtors feel that if Greenville could get more industries in the area, there would be a greater population of younger residents.

Both agree that the atmosphere, location, population and overall appeal of a small town are what attract people to live in Greenville.

“First of all, I love living in Greenville myself. So, it’s easy for me to point out all these wonderful things about Greenville. It gives you a sense of belonging and I do think young people value a sense of belonging. And a community is certainly part of it,” said Coleman.

Lacey and Ken Eason moved to Greenville about eight months ago for work purposes and have fallen in love with the small town charm.

“We moved here, primarily, for my husband’s job. The first thing we really liked about Greenville is the people and the charm of a small town,” Lacey said. “When we first moved here, it was right before Thanksgiving and people we had just met wanted to make sure we had a place to go for Thanksgiving. That’s not something you get everywhere. I think it’s a great location and there’s a real family focus in Greenville.”

Eason enjoys that feeling of support she and her husband receive from the community. She enjoys seeing the community become more active with events put on around town and hopes to see the city continue to grow.