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The Best Cities in Indiana for Homeownership

The numbers are in: According to data from the Indiana Association of RealtorsⓇ, median home values across the state increased by 6% from 2017 to 2018 alone. That bodes well for Indiana homeowners because it means that their investments have appreciated in value.

Our researchers here at LendingTree have compiled the best cities in Indiana to own a home, based on appreciation and other factors. We looked at data on metropolitan statistical areas (MSA) and micropolitan statistical areas in the U.S. Census’ American Community Survey from 2013 to 2017. A micropolitan area is defined as having a population of 10,000 to 50,000.

For each area, we examined the median home value, unemployment rate, average commute time, median home value appreciation and median change in yearly housing costs, which measures the cost of homeownership. The metrics reflect not only the cost of owning a home, but also homeowners’ quality of life in Indiana. Here’s what we found.

Key findings

  • The Jasper Micro Area is the best place in Indiana for homeownership. This micro area has a high median home value ($145,100) and low unemployment rate (3.1%). Home values increased while homeownership costs decreased (by 15.07% and 5.17%, respectively) from 2013 to 2017.
  • The Warsaw Micro Area is the second best place for homeownership in Indiana. It has a high median home value ($149,000), low unemployment rate (4.6%), a short average commute time (19.7 minutes) and home values increased from 2013 to 2017 (9.00%).
  • The New Castle Micro Area is the worst place for homeownership in Indiana. It has a low median home value ($98,600), higher unemployment rate for the state (7%), a longer average commute time (26.8 minutes), and home values decreased while homeownership costs increased from 2013 to 2017 (by 0.90% and 1.55%, respectively).

The best cities for homeownership in Indiana

  1. Jasper Micro Area
    Jasper, which lies in the southwestern corner of the state, is a long way from any big cities. The nearest metropolitan area is Louisville, Ky., about 80 miles away. But if it’s a small-town vibe that you’re after, Jasper is the perfect place to buy a home in Indiana.The median home value here is a reasonable $145,100. Homes here appreciated in value by 15.07% from 2013 to 2017, and better yet, the costs to run those same homes (such as utilities, insurance, taxes, etc.) went down by 5.17% over the same time span. Furthermore, the area’s economy is growing fast, with big employers like MasterBrand Cabinets and Jasper Engines & Transmission hiring thousands of locals. Thus, the unemployment rate in this town is a mere 3.1% — the lowest of any city on our list.
  2. Warsaw Micro Area
    Home prices in Warsaw are higher than in any of the other cities on our list, with a median value of $149,000. But that’s still a far cry from the state’s overall median home value of $193,500. Even though Warsaw is relatively close to Fort Wayne (about a 40 mile drive), most people are able to find work nearby, since the average commute time is a mere 19.7 minutes.There are also abundant recreation opportunities around the three lakes that are located within Warsaw itself and plenty of economic opportunities. In fact, the town is known as the Orthopedic Capital of the WorldⓇ because about half of the total worldwide market for orthopedic joint replacement creation is centered in this town.
  3. Crawfordsville Micro Area
    Crawfordsville is an outlying suburb of Indianapolis. It’s about a 37-mile drive to the center of the capital city, but again, it appears that most people in this town are able to find work much closer. The average commute time is just 21.9 minutes.Home prices start to crawl back down a bit in this town, with a median value of $121,400. Homes have appreciated by a moderate amount over the years — specifically, 14.21% from 2013 to 2017. Like most of the towns on our list, homeownership costs have decreased slightly over the years, by about 4%.
  4. Greensburg Micro Area
    Greensburg sits right about halfway between Indianapolis and Cincinnati, Ohio. It’s a quirky little town (its nicknamed the “Tower Tree City,” after a 150-year-old tree that grows out of the top of the tower in the town’s courthouse). Homes in the area can generally be had for around the median value of $122,800. Homes have appreciated by a relatively small amount over the years, rising just 10.83% in value from 2013 to 2017. Like almost all of the other towns on our list, homeownership costs have decreased here, by about 4% over the years.
  5. Elkhart-Goshen Metro Area
    If you don’t mind living up near the chilly Michigan border, the Elkhart and Goshen metro area is another great place to own a home. Unfortunately, unemployment is on the high side, at 5.6%, which is rather surprising given the city’s economic base. Elkhart is the unofficial RV capital of the the U.S., and is home to several companies that assemble RVs and produce aftermarket vehicle parts. In addition, the larger city of South Bend is just a short 16 mile drive down the road. The median home value in the area is $134,400 — much lower than the state median of $193,500 — and residents do enjoy a short 19.4-minute average commute.
  6. Auburn Micro Area
    Auburn is another outlying suburb of Fort Wayne, located about 23 miles north of the city along I-69. Manufacturing reigns supreme here, and the area’s unemployment rate sits around 5%. In this area, steel is where it’s at. The region employs nearly 2,000 workers at two different steel manufacturing facilities. Hundreds more people are employed at a Walmart frozen food distribution plant, an auto parts manufacturing plant and a door manufacturing plant. Home prices in the area are also ultra affordable, with the median home value clocking in at $117,600.
  7. Angola Micro Area
    Nestled among a series of lakes, Angola sits just a few miles up I-69 from Auburn, in the northeastern corner of the state. Manufacturing is big business here, too. The area boasts a 4.9% unemployment rate, with workers spread out among factories in the transportation, printing, machining and plastic industries.Median home values are a moderate $139,600, with home prices rising 9.23% from 2013 to 2017. During that same time frame, homeownership costs decreased by 1.55%, making the area even more affordable for homeowners. Commute times in this city are right on par with the others on our list, at 22 minutes on average.
  8. Vincennes Micro Area
    If you like the area around the top city on our list (Jasper) but don’t like its high home prices (median home value: $145,100), consider Vincennes instead. It’s only 42 miles northwest of Jasper yet features the lowest home prices of any city on our list. The median home price here is a mere $102,400.Existing homeowners here also benefit from rapidly rising home prices. From 2013 to 2017, the median home value increased by 16.76%. Homeownership costs also went up during that same period, albeit by a miniscule 1.3%. Residents here also have the shortest commute time of all the cities on our list, at just 18.4 minutes on average.
  9. Columbus Metro Area
    Unfortunately for homeowners in Columbus, home prices barely rose here at all (0.42%) between the years of 2013 and 2017. They’ve stayed pretty constant at the median value of $142,400.However, the town is a great place to live in other ways. Most of the buildings in the downtown area were designed by famous architects, thanks to a grant from the former owner of Cummins Engine, which is still the biggest employer in the area to this day. It’s also just down the road from Indianapolis (about 45 miles away), although judging by the average resident’s quick commute time (just 19.6 minutes), most people are able to find gainful employment within the community itself.
  10. Evansville Metro Area
    If Indiana had a toe, Evansville would be it. It’s located in very tip of the most southwestern part of the state, nestled in a bend of the Ohio and Wabash Rivers. Evansville is also of note as a typical small American town. In fact, the residents who live here are seen as a general representation of the average American by marketers who use them as subjects when testing new products and ideas.It’s easy to see why: Median home values are a reasonable $135,200. Home values did increase by 8.07% over the 2013-2017 period. Evansville is one of the few cities on our list to see rising homeownership costs, but it’s still manageable: just a 5% increase in recent years.

Homebuying tips for Indiana

For those looking to move into an Indiana community, there’s good news. Home prices here are generally affordable, and once you’re in a home, there’s a good chance your investment will grow over time, given that median home prices have risen by about 6% year-over-year recently. But for would-be homeowners, perhaps an even more interesting trend is that home prices are seasonal in nature. Each winter, median home prices across Indiana dip by as much as $20,000, according to data from the Indiana Association of RealtorsⓇ. To be fair, housing supply also dips somewhat during these months, so you’ll have slightly fewer options. But if you’re willing to move in the chilly months, there could be great deals to be snagged.

Housing supply has also been in decline over the past decade. In mid-2009, housing supply peaked at around 12 months’ worth of inventory. However, since then it’s been dipping lower and lower until late 2018, when supply bottomed out at just two months’ worth of inventory. This means that houses are selling faster, which might put pressure on you to accept a home that’s not exactly right for you.

That’s why it’s extra important to make sure you have your financing in order before you go shopping for a home. It’s a good idea to draft a budget, so you know exactly how much house you can afford before you start shopping. It will help you avoid being tempted by that oh-so-nice house that’s just a bit above the top end of your range. It’s also a good idea to get preapproved for a mortgage, so that when you are ready to make an offer, you’ll have a better chance of getting it accepted.

Finding a good real estate agent is also a key piece of the equation. A good agent will help guide you through the process, potentially saving you a lot of money and hassle throughout your homebuying journey.

Buying a home is a stressful proposition any way you look at it. But if you follow these guidelines, you’ll be that much closer to finding the best Indiana home for you at a price that’ll fit your budget.

Methodology:

The methodology for this study was simple and straightforward.

1: Collect metropolitan statistical areas (“MSAs”) and micropolitan statistical area from the U.S. Census Bureau using 2017 population data.

2: Each MSA and micropolitan statistical area was ranked on a scale from 31 (Best) to 1 (Worst) for five different metrics. Those metrics are:

Median Home Value(31-Highest Value, 1-Lowest Value)

Unemployment Rate(31-Lowest Rate, 1-Highest Rate)

Average Commute Time(31-Shortest Time, 1-Longest Time)

Median Home Value Appreciation (2013-2017)(31-Greatest Appreciation, 1-Smallest Appreciation)

Median Change in Yearly Housing Costs (2013-2017)(31-Smallest Cost Change, 1-Greatest Positive Cost Change) – The formula for this metric is

(((Monthly Housing Costs for 2017 *12)+(Real Estate Tax for 2017))/ ((Monthly Housing Costs for 2013 *12)+(Real Estate Tax for 2013))-1)

3: An average score was then calculated for each MSA based upon the scores they received for each metric.

4: The MSAs and micropolitan statistical area were then ranked on a scale of 1 (Best) to 31 (Worst) based on their average score.

5: All metrics were ranked equally.

Data:

All data were obtained from the U.S. Census Bureau. More information on where the data came from is provided below:

2017 Median Home Value, Monthly Housing Costs, Real Estate Taxes

  • Filtered for all MSAs
  • Then filtered for Financial Characteristics for housing units with a mortgage — 2013-2017 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates

2017 Unemployment Rate and Median Commute Time

  • Filtered for all MSAs
  • Then filtered for Selected Economic Characteristics — 2013-2017 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates

2013 Median Home Value, Monthly Housing Costs, Real Estate Taxes

  • Filtered for all MSAs
  • Then filtered for Financial Characteristics for housing units with a mortgage — 2013-2017 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates.
 

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