Study: Athol most affordable for home purchase

  • Metro Metro

For The Athol Daily News
Published: 7/2/2020 5:11:34 PM
Modified: 7/2/2020 5:11:24 PM

ATHOL — The financial technology company SmartAsset says Athol is the most affordable community in Massachusetts when it comes to buying a home. While Tool Town came in third out of the top 10 in terms of closing costs — with an average of $3,154 — Athol ranked lowest in annual property taxes ($2,411), annual homeowner’s insurance ($528), and average annual mortgage payment ($7,004).

However, SmartAsset also found that, out of the top five most affordable communities on the list, Athol has the lowest median income — $50,714 — quite a bit less than the next lowest, $60,333, in Palmer. Other income levels in the top five included Agawam ($67,219), Bellingham ($85,844) and Longmeadow ($114,271).

On its website, SmartAsset said: “We started the analysis by including all cities with a population of 5,000 or greater. We then measured the total cost of owning a home (using the average home cost) in each city over a five-year period. That five-year cost was then measured as a proportion of median household income in each place to determine affordability.

“The most affordable places were those in which total housing costs were smallest compared to the median income in each area. Each city was then indexed on a scale from 0 to 100, with the most affordable location receiving a score of 100, with the most affordable location (nationally) receiving a score of 100.”

According to the SmartAsset, Athol received a score of 36.64 on the affordability index.

Other communities in the top 10 were Adams, Franklin, Wilmington, Somerset, and Pinehurst.

Athol Town Manager Shaun A. Suhoski took the “Number 1” ranking by SmartAsset in stride.

“I think we’ve all seen these types of rankings before,” he said. “They are basic scenarios to derive a ‘top 10 list to help generate a quick news story — in this case, by SmartAsset.

“The affordability criteria really centered around annual average tax bill and real estate closing costs measured against annual income.

“In short, the number one ranking in the Commonwealth confirms what we already know: Athol is a growing, full-service community that is a terrific bargain for families and retirees. In fact, Athol’s average annual single-family home tax bill in FY20 ranked 315 out of 351 total cities and towns, according to the Mass. Dept. of Revenue, Division of Local Services.”

Suhoski pointed out that in 2016, SmartAsset ranked Athol as the 10th-best place to retire in Massachusetts back in 2016.

“If nothing else, it is a bit of positive news for the community,” Suhoski concluded.

Athol Director of Planning and Economic Development Director Eric Smith’s response was also measured.

“Some wealthy communities also show up on that list,” said Smith. “You’ve got Longmeadow, which has a median income of $114,000 — they’re saying that’s the third most-affordable place? It seems kind of odd that some of these wealthier communities are on that list.

“But, with that all aside, I think this just goes to show that Athol is an affordable place to live in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.”


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