Warwick most affordable for home buyers

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Warwick is the most affordable place to live in Rhode Island, at least according to a study recently released by SmartAsset.com, which assessed the most affordable places to live in America.

The study examined cities and towns of more than 5,000 people across multiple areas associated with being able to purchase and afford a home, including the median family income of the municipality, average annual property taxes, average annual mortgage payments, average closing costs for a home purchase and the average annual cost for homeowner’s insurance – when combined they attributed to an overall “affordability index” ranging from 1-100.

Warwick did not rank first in any of these categories statewide, but averaged less costly comparative to the average of other communities in the state across all of those metrics.

The average closing costs in Rhode Island, according to the study, is $3,689, while in Warwick it is $3,151; the annual property tax in the state is $4,533 while in Warwick it is $3,647; annual homeowner’s insurance costs $1,808 on average statewide while only $1,239 in Warwick; the average annual mortgage payment in Rhode Island is $13,576 but only $9,305 in Warwick; and the median household income statewide is $61,043 but higher in Warwick at $71,191.

However, despite ranking highest in the state, even the most affordable place to live in Rhode Island is in the bottom third of affordable housing in the country. Warwick achieved an affordability index of 33.12 out of a possible 100 (ranking 2,704th nationwide). For context, the most affordable municipality in the country (the only 100 rating) went to Pecos, Texas, which has an average annual mortgage payment of under $2,500 but a household median income of about $55,000.

Nationally, Rhode Island’s average annual mortgage payment of $13,576 is more than double the average nationwide, which is $6,529 per the study. Annual property taxes in Rhode Island on average are $4,533, which is nearly triple the cost of the national average at $1,526. Annual homeowner’s insurance in Rhode Island is nearly double the national average as well, at $1,808 compared to $985.

Phil Slocum, owner of Slocum Realty in Warwick, said that perspective was important when assessing affordability – and that just because certain costs may be higher in Rhode Island than elsewhere in the country, the income is also higher here. In fact, the study showed that the median family income in Warwick increased from $66,602 in 2018 to $71,191 in 2019 – which is $13,539 (23 percent) higher than the national median income of $57,652.

Slocum said that what homeowners get for their dollar is an especially important factor, particularly in Warwick.

“One of the things that Warwick can be so proud of is what you get for the affordability,” he said. “You get paid police, fire, trash removal, sewerage, public water. Often, we will have buyers looking at more rural communities, and they'll say look at the taxes and the lower mortgage payment – but there's no city sewers, a volunteer fire department, well water. You get what you pay for. The city of Warwick has wonderful amenities and structure for the community.”

Slocum said that the Warwick housing market has been consistently the most active market in the state, and that the state has seen a “very, very hot” housing market over the last six to seven years.

The stats back that up. As provided by Slocum and sourced to Statewide Multiple Listing Service, Inc., real estate sales in Rhode Island have been dominated by Warwick in 2017 and 2018, with Warwick’s 2,596 home sales coming in far above the second most popular community, Cranston, which had 1,775 sales the past two years. The median value of a home in Warwick increased from $215,000 in 2017 to $230,000 in 2018.

“The last six to seven years have been extremely strong, and the last two or three have been right at the top of the scale as well,” Slocum said. “Demand is very high. If we suffer from anything it's a lack of inventory.”

Slocum said that buyers have to be patient as houses go quickly, and often go for more than their assessed values – though he couldn’t say specifically how much higher they are going for on average, as every house and every community is different.

“I think there's a lot of factors, none the least of which is the economy overall and the unemployment rate,” he said. “In addition, it's supply and demand. The less properties there are on the market, the higher the value.”

Dean deTonnancourt, president of the Rhode Island Association of Realtors, added that while the market was still a seller’s market – houses in the state that normally last 180 days during an “even” market are only lasting 60 days on average – the market is “stabilizing” as inventory numbers of available houses are increasing.

“Now that more inventory is coming to the market, buyers have more of a say in the market,” he said, adding that such stabilization should result in more favorable prices for buyers than seen during the height of the buying frenzy.

Slocum and deTonnancourt warned about putting too much stock into property taxes as an accurate barometer for affordability, as some communities may not have performed an assessment on their properties in multiple years, while others may be more up to date.

According to the study, the least affordable community ranked in Rhode Island was Wakefield-Peacedale portion of South Kingstown, which had an affordability of 0.21 out of 100. Its average annual mortgage payments were $14,467 with a median income almost identical to Warwick at $71,071. Their annual property taxes came in at $4,243 and homeowner’s insurance at $1,927.

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richard corrente

Dean DeTonnancourt and Phil Slocum are two of the smartest, most respected names in R.I. Real Estate. There comments are 100% accurate. Property taxes do vary greatly, especially just before and just after an assessment.

The study released by SmartAsset however, shows the average of all properties in each city/town. That's not comparing apples to apples. If a buyer in the $200,000 price range compared a $200,000 single-family Zillow sale in Warwick to a $200,000 single-family Zillow sale in Cranston, East Greenwich, Coventry or North Kingstown, the taxes in Warwick would be higher, and that is what pushes buyers OUT of Warwick.

In order to bring buyers BACK to Warwick we need to "Cut Taxes - Cut Spending". The direction of this City Council and this Mayor seems to be in that direction and they deserve a vote of confidence for their efforts.

Happy Valentines everyone.

Rick Corrente

The Taxpayers Mayor

Tuesday, February 12
wwkvoter

Corrente is NOT the mayor of anywhere, and homes sell in Warwick just fine. No one likes taxes but on balance, Warwick property taxes are running about average for RI homes. Guy has no idea what he is talking about.

As to "cut taxes cut spending" nonsense, corrente failed to enumerate what spending he would cut and in fact has advocated for employee raises, paying people to move here, and spending hundreds of millions on some kind of dubious "pension buyout" scheme... nonsense that correspondingly resulting in his drubbing in the election.

Tuesday, February 12
richard corrente

Dear WwkVoter,

AKA Henry Krinkle.

Henry, you're wrong. Again.

When I stated my opinion about Warwick real estate, you say "Guy has no idea what he is talking about." But I do! I was a Realtor for ten years followed by a mortgage loan officer for 41 years. I have analyzed literally thousands of appraisals. I make comparisons on a daily basis. That kind of makes me qualified to state that opinion. Don't you think?

You, on the other hand, work in politics. Right? Have you done ANYTHING involving real estate evaluations?

I didn't think so.

THEN...you claim I "failed to enumerate what spending he would cut" right before you quote my "pension buyout plan", which would mirror the highly successful similar plan in Texas. HENRY! That's how I would do it! (at least that is one of the many ways).

Glad you read The Corrente Plan. (you even gave an honorable mention to my "Tax Rebate Check Plan"). Can you think of any better ideas than mine Henry, or do you admit that you're unable to think of any?

Happy Valentines Henry.

Happy Valentines everyone.

Rick Corrente

The Taxpayers Mayor

Tuesday, February 12
wwkvoter

Please dont use my real name thank you.

Wednesday, February 13
Patrick Maloney

Great article but a bit deceiving. Once a year we see an article in the Beacon or Sentinel that states something similar.

You can find (pay) for any website to say whatever you want. This is propaganda. This website says we are not even in the top 10 places in RI to live. https://www.niche.com/places-to-live/search/best-places-to-buy-a-house/s/rhode-island/

"Most affordable"? "Best"? From the Article, "Warwick did not rank first in any of these categories statewide, but averaged less costly comparative to the average of other communities in the state across all of those metrics."

When saying Warwick is the best, remember the state of RI is near the bottom of many lists. So, we may be the best/ most affordable of the worst which I guess is something to be proud of.

Before people hate on what I said, I need to add, I love my neighbors, I love that I don't have to go far to get to stuff, I'm satisfied with services and think some are GREAT. I may pay more for things than I want but overall I'm satisfied with Warwick and there aren't many other places I would want to live in RI.

We need to make Warwick and all of RI better so we can compete and attract people to come here for legitimate reasons and not just "most affordable". I want to tell my kids to stay here and not to get their education and leave for other places. I would start with making education a priority and create an environment where businesses thrive so our educated workforce has a place to work and aren't force to leave to get jobs.

Wednesday, February 13
Jimmy

How’s the audit going of the Fire Department? Better yet, how’s the FBI investigation? How come that’s all gone silent? Very strange.

Wednesday, February 13
wwkvoter

Patrick says: "Before people hate on what I said, I need to add, I love my neighbors, I love that I don't have to go far to get to stuff, I'm satisfied with services and think some are GREAT. I may pay more for things than I want but overall I'm satisfied with Warwick..."

And I agree with all those positives about Warwick. To each his own right? some people would want bigger, newer houses, larger yards, etc etc and choose another community based on their own preferences, but if you want a convenient place to hang your hat with a lot of actually good metrics, Warwick fits the bill.

Thats why the watchdogs and other concerned types are only helping by identifying weaknesses that could tip Warwick into something worse by draining public monies away from actual benefits to the taxpayer (which to an extent already are). Hopefully the mayor and council will have the courage to fix what is pointed out to them. We'll see.

Wednesday, February 13
richard corrente

Dear Patrick Maloney,

Spot-on!

Dear WwkVoter,

Henry, I'll make a deal with you. I won't use your full name ever again if you stop accusing me of claiming I'm the Mayor. I never said I was and you know that because I've defended it often.

BTW your last comment of Wednesday 2-13-19 was as spot-on as Patricks.

Happy Valentines DAY everyone.

Rick Corrente

The Taxpayers Mayor

Thursday, February 14
DannyHall82

Richard, You commented a few months ago that the Mayor and Council voted to increase taxes, so how have they actually cut taxes if they just increased our taxes?

Thursday, February 14
richard corrente

Dear DannyHall82,

C'mon Danny. You know better.

I commented that "29 tax-increasing amendments were UNANIMOUSLY voted down by the 2017 City Council". I am proud to report that my campaign to "Cut Taxes - Cut Spending" had something to do with that. SINCE then there have been some tax increases. So both statements are honest and correct as the times caused.

Happy St. Patricks old friend.

Happy St. Patricks everyone.

Rick Corrente

The Taxpayers Mayor

Friday, February 15
Thecaptain

Richard,

You had nothing to do with the no tax budget, nor did you have anything to do with the maximum tax increase. NOTHING. But i cant wait to hear your comments when we get another maximum tax increase at the June budget hearings, and I cant wait to hear your comments when the "state of the city" presentation shows that Warwick is well on its way to insolvency, as I have said for a very long time.

Its coming,believe me. So get prepared. The layers of the onion are coming off rapidly thanks to a few residents that have pushed for the truth. You are not one of those residents.

Saturday, February 16