Jared Hunt column: Sissonville ranked best for home ownership

Sissonville is the best place in West Virginia to buy a home, according to a new study from personal finance website NerdWallet.

The company recently analyzed 36 cities and towns in West Virginia to find the most affordable places to live. The study looked at several factors — including homeownership rates, median household income, median home values, population growth and estimated monthly homeowner costs — to compile a list of top places to live.

Overall, the study found the state was a good place to own a home.

“Homeownership is quite affordable in West Virginia,” the study said. “All of our top places spent less than 27 percent of their monthly median income on housing costs, considerably less than other states NerdWallet has analyzed.”

Several locations in the Kanawha Valley made the company’s top 10 best places for home ownership in the state.

Sissonville topped the company’s list. NerdWallet said it was the fastest-growing place in West Virginia, with an 8.09-percent population growth rate between 2010 and 2012, according to figures compiled by the U.S. Census Bureau. Sissonville has a 77.8 percent homeownership rate, with medial monthly income of $4,113.33, median home value of $120,900 and selected monthly homeownership costs of $1,100, which represents 26.74 percent of median monthly income. It also pointed out the area has quick access to Charleston, via a short drive down Interstate 77, so residents have easy access to many of the cultural, commercial and entertainment venues found in the capital city.

Another Kanawha Valley community, Nitro, ranked second on the list. Homeowners there spend an average of 22.08 percent of their monthly income — $876 out of median monthly income of $3,968.25 — on housing costs. The city’s population grew 1.62 percent between 2010 and 2012, according to Census data.

Hurricane, a short drive away in Putnam County, came in third on the list. Median home values and monthly incomes were higher compared to Sissonville and Nitro, at $147,000 and $5,273.42. The city boasts a 78.1 percent homeownership rate and homeowners spend about $1,152, or 21.85 percent, of their monthly income on housing costs.

The three Kanawha Valley cities were followed by Cheat Lake, Bridgeport, Cross Lanes, New Martinsville, Point Pleasant, Oak Hill and Vienna to round out the top 10.

St. Albans and Dunbar came in at the 11th and 13th spots, respectively, in the study’s rankings. Teays Valley was ranked 16th.

South Charleston was ranked the 17th best place to live. The study said the city had a 68 percent homeownership rate with a median home value of $103,600. Residents there spend an average of 27.81 percent of their monthly income — $964 out of a median monthly income of $3,465.83 — on housing costs.

Charleston landed in the bottom third of the study’s analysis, ranking 29th out of 36 cities. With a homeownership rate of 60.7 percent, the median home value in the city was $141,900 while median monthly income was $3,965.17. Homeowners in the capital city spend an average of $1,159, or 29.23 percent of their monthly income, on housing costs.

Morgantown, which has been one of the fastest-growing portions of the state, actually came in last in the rankings. The study found the college city has a low homeownership rate, at 39.2 percent, and residents there spend the largest portion of their monthly income — 47.85 percent — on housing costs compared to the other studied cities in the state.

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