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Top 10 places to raise a family, according to science

We present to you the top 10 suburbs in America to raise a family, based on statistics and science. Does yours make the list?

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The quality of school systems is one of the most common reasons that people choose to move, followed closely by job opportunities and changes in family status. For many buyers, the search for an affordable house that is both in a good school district and close enough to work means living in the suburbs. Luckily, the U.S. is chalk full of charming small towns that make for great family communities.

The Business Insider recently created a list of the top 50 best suburbs in America based on average commute times, median household income, poverty and crime rates, public school rating (based on ratings from GreatSchools.org), and housing affordability. They reviewed data from 2,754 municipalities in the U.S., focusing on suburbs located within 40 kilometers of a metropolitan area, and with populations between 5,000 and 100,000.

Here are the top ten best suburbs in America today.

10. Bellaire, Texas

With its close proximity to Houston’s Galleria mall, mature oak trees, and multitude of parks, Bellaire is a very desirable place to put down roots. The school system rated 6 out of 10, the median commute time is less than 20 minutes, and the unemployment rate is low at 3.7%. The population is 17,223.

9. Fox Chapel, Pennsylvania

Fox Chapel is only 10 miles from Pittsburgh, and has fabulous schools that rate 10 out of 10 on the GreatSchools.org website. The community is almost 100% residential, but it also has churches, private clubs, and private schools. The average household income is $174,924, and the population is 5,390.

8. Indian Hill, Ohio

Indian Hill is another suburb with a top notch, 10 out of 10, school system. It is located just northeast of Cincinnati, with 5,797 residents. This rural town has a legendary red schoolhouse and charming appeal. The median household income in Indian Hill is $207,067.

7. Highland Park, Texas

Home to the famous Big Pecan Tree, Highland Park hosts Dallas County’s annual tree lighting to celebrate the Christmas holiday. This town of 8,706 people is only 3 miles north of Dallas, and scores 8 out of 10 for great schools. It has many parks, and an average household income of $191,422.

6. Piedmont, California

Piedmont is full of great attributes that make it desirable: five landscaped city parks, tennis courts, playgrounds, picnic areas, and a great location near the San Francisco Bay. With more than 82% of its citizen’s having received a bachelor’s degree or higher, Piedmont’s 10,852 residents are highly educated and well-off (median household income of $207,222). The school system is also top tier, scoring 10 out of 10.

5. Atherton, California

This suburb is located between San Francisco and San Jose, and features native live oak, white oak, bay, redwood, and cedar trees. Atherton’s 6,993 residents are the wealthiest on Business Insider’s 50 suburbs list—the average household income is $239,886. The school system rates an 8 out of 10.

4. University Park, Texas

A large suburb with a population of 23,460, University Park is located five miles north of downtown Dallas, and has a very highly educated populace. 83.7% of residents have earned a bachelor’s degree or higher, and the median household income is $173,520. University Park has a low crime rate and great schools (9 out of 10).

3. Ladue, Missouri

This small town features charming boutiques, gourmet dining, and antique shopping. Ladue has a remarkably low poverty rate of 1.6%, and great schools rated 7 out of 10. The median household income is $176,369, and the population is 8,519.

2. Mountain Brook, Alabama

Mountain Brook is beloved for its five shopping villages, great school system (10/10), and beautiful residential areas designed by the landscape planner that worked on New York City’s Central Park. It is only 17 minutes outside the Birmingham-Hoover metropolitan areas, and its 20,416 residents have a median household income of $131,281.

1. New Albany, Ohio

This top-ranking suburb has 8,135 residents, and is only a 21 minutes drive from Columbus. Characterized by white picket fences, colonial style architecture, public parks, and a low poverty rate of 1.2%, New Albany is a safe and beautiful place to live. The school systems rate a perfect 10 out of 10, and the median household income is $185,076.

After seeing what characteristics make up the top ten best suburbs in America, it’s worthwhile to reflect on your own town. Are you getting your money’s worth? Are your clients? Did your town make the list?

#TopPlaces

Hannah is currently a writer and student in Colorado Springs, pursuing her master's degree in Creative Writing at the University of Denver. Before becoming a Staff Writer for the American Genius, Hannah wrote website content and grant applications for a law office in central Minnesota.

Real Estate Big Data

Debate brewing over what home prices will do in 2019 (place your bets)

(REAL ESTATE NEWS) There are consistent factors we look at when forecasting housing prices, and a unanimous picture is emerging – but place your bets because there is a small spread to consider.

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In the past few years, it’s been pretty sweet to be a homeowner, watching your gains accumulate, while home buyers have been up against diminished inventory levels, rising prices, and perpetually tight lending conditions.

So what does 2019 have in store?

Several optimistic brokers we spoke with believe prices will continue their current pace, some predicting as much as a 7.0 percent increase this year, while others believe it to be as little as 1.0 percent. But none indicated prices will stagnate or even drop.

Which seems to be the consensus.

So the debate brewing is perhaps more nitpicking than anything, but a debate it remains.

According to Case-Shiller, CoreLogic, home prices are predicted to increase another 5.0% in 2019 (and another 5.0% in 2020), and many experts add a caveat that the 2020 elections will be a strong driver in both years as uncertainty inevitably plays a roll in buyer sentiment.

A Reuters report indicates prices will rise twice the speed of inflation and pay in 2019, again noting the impact of potential trade wars on the American economy. Meanwhile, mortgage costs are accelerating which could hold back home sales this year.

The good news is that inventory levels are loosening slightly as builders’ engines are starting to rev and housing starts inch upward, alleviating pressure on supply levels (although everyone agrees they’ll remain low).

Continued economic success, combined with low inventory levels are the primary indicators in favor of home price increases this year.

Calculated Risk suggests that inventory increases makes it “likely that price appreciation will slow to the low single digits – maybe around 3.0 percent.”

The National Association of Realtors is similarly conservative in projections, forecasting a slight increase in home prices in 2019.

NAR Chief Economist, Dr. Lawrence Yun tells The American Genius, “Home sales have been softened in the latter part of 2018. Not likely to be meaningful gains in home sales in 2019. Combine this with a modest growth in supply of new home construction and existing home inventory implies a much slower home price appreciation in 2019.”

Dr. Yun concluded, “My forecast is only 2 percent to 3 percent in 2019. This would be the first time in seven years where wage growth will likely exceed home price growth.”

So the spread is between 2.0 percent at 7.0 percent growth in home prices – what do you think this year has in store?

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Real Estate Big Data

Why the share of first time homebuyers continues to fall

(REAL ESTATE) First time homebuyers are interested in buying, but several internal and external factors are limiting their ability.

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The share of first-time homebuyers continues to fall, amidst rising interest rates and home prices, and diminishing inventory levels, despite “notable interest” in buying, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). The share dipped to 33 percent (down from 34 percent last year), not hitting 40 percent or higher since the homebuyers credit ended in 2010.

“With the lower end of the housing market – smaller, moderately priced homes – seeing the worst of the inventory shortage, first-time homebuyers who want to enter the market are having difficulty finding a home they can afford,” said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. “Homes were selling in a median of three weeks and multiple offers were a common occurrence, further pushing up home prices. These factors contributed to the low number of first-time buyers and the struggles of would-be buyers dreaming of joining the ranks of homeownership.”

Housing starts remain lower than the market demands and student loan debt continues to keep interested buyers in the rental market. Half of those surveyed indicated that student loan debt restricted their ability to save for a down payment or a home purchase, and one quarter carry student loan debt of around $28,000 while 40 percent carry a median of $30,000 in student loan debt.

“Even with a thriving economy and an abundance of job opportunities in many markets, monthly student loan payments coupled with sky-high rents and rising home prices make it exceedingly difficult for potential buyers to put aside savings for a down payment,” said Yun.

The average size of a down payment rose to 13 percent in 2018 (up from 10 percent last year, and the highest since 2005), with first time buyers putting down a median 7.0 percent (up from 5.0 percent last year), the highest since 1997.

Most buyers (58 percent) cite personal savings as their primary source of a down payment, and 24 percent of first time buyers were the most likely to use a gift from a friend or relative (24 percent).

A bright spot of NAR’s newest data is that single female buyers are a “strong force in the market,” accounting for 18 percent of all buyers, the second most common buyer behind married couples (63 percent). Single male buyers account for 9.0 percent of all homebuyers, but tended to purchase more expensive homes (median price of $215,000 versus single females’ $189,000 average price).

“Low inventory, rising interest rates and student loan debt are all factors contributing to the suppression of first-time home buyers,” said Yun. “However, existing home sales data shows inventory has been rising slowly on a year-over-year basis in recent months, which may encourage more would-be buyers who were previously convinced they could not find a home to enter the market.”

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Real Estate Big Data

Pending home sales rise, still below 2017 levels

(ECONOMICS) Pending home sales trend upward, but sales remain below last year’s level – why, and what’s next?

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With home sales jumping 4.5 percent in the West, pending home sales ended up rising 0.5 percent in September, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

Pending home sales are contracts signed on homes for sale, so economists watch this indicator closely as a measure of the housing market’s health and an indicator of what will happen next.

But NAR is quick to point out that this slight uptick does not overshadow nine consecutive month of annual decreases.

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NAR Chief Economist, Dr. Lawrence Yun calls it a “stabilizing trend,” that proves “buyers are out there on the sidelines, waiting to jump in once more inventory becomes available and the price is right.”

Beating a dead horse, Dr. Yun again points to the lack of inventory and affordability factors as restrictive, but asserting that the demand for housing “should remain steady.”

But with all other facets of the economy firing on all cylinders, why is the real estate market not exceeding expectations? Simple supply and demand – with homeowners seeing healthy gains in recent years, prices continue to rise alongside interest rates, and combined with inventory levels remaining tight, some buyers are simply left on the sidelines, regardless of their desire to buy.

Dr. Yun says this is about to change, pointing to annual increases in inventory in many major markets. In the past, he has noted one method to alleviate the supply/demand imbalance is for homebuilders to step up production, but as that has not happened, there is no expediting the natural process.

Further, performance varies between regions with pending home sales jumping 4.5 percent in the West (while dipping to 7.4 percent below a year ago), and 1.2 in the Midwest (only 1.1 percent below last year). Meanwhile, falling 0.4 percent in the Northeast (now 2.7 percent below September 2017), and 1.4 percent in the South (down 3.3 percent annually).

The wheels of the market are currently slowly moving, and the fed is expected to increase rates one more time this year, but NAR’s forward-looking indicator reveals a decent close to 2018.

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