Nick in the AM: Peoria County among best Illinois spots to own home, study states

Good morning, troops. It’s Tuesday, May 8.

The Peoria-area residential real estate market is stable, according to relatively recent reports. Uncertainty related to Caterpillar Inc.’s decision last year to move its headquarters from Peoria didn’t seem to depress the market all that much.

Total transactions in 2017 were about the same as 2016, but fourth-quarter sales were up more than 10 percent.

Now, a financial technology company has calculated Peoria County is among the best in Illinois in which to buy a residence, rather than rent.

SmartAsset ranks Peoria County fourth in a top-10 Illinois list it released Tuesday morning. The firm’s study compares average rent and home prices to find where buying makes the most sense, according to a news release.

The key metric appears to be the shortest amount of time it makes more sense to buy instead of rent.

The benchmark buyer income SmartAsset used is $100,000 annually. It also assumed a mortgage rate of 4½ percent, closing costs of $2,000 and a 20 percent downpayment.

The break-even point between renting and buying in Peoria County is a little over a year, according to the SmartAsset calculation.

The average monthly mortgage payment in Peoria County is $703, according to SmartAsset. Average monthly rent is $1,053. Average home price is $183,776.

LaSalle County was sixth on the SmartAsset list. Its figures were $802, $1,191 and $209,616, respectively.

The top Illinois county in the SmartAsset rankings was St. Clair, which is home to Belleville and East St. Louis. Winnebago County (Rockford) was second, Kankakee County third and Effingham County fifth.

As far as cheapest counties to buy or rent, that distinction might go to Stephenson County, at least among the larger places in the state.

SmartAsset lists average Stephenson County mortgage payments at $549, rent at $894 and average home price at $143,476. The county is seventh on the overall SmartAsset list.

Freeport is the Stephenson County seat. That city is home to a fine golf course (actually, two fine golf courses) and perhaps the best high school nickname in Illinois, a distinction it shares with New Berlin, which is located near Springfield.

Proximity to Wisconsin cheese and beer gives Freeport our nod, however. What are pretzels without either?

We could use a few brews to get through the song heard on the way to work. Nothing screams ’70s quite like this video, nor does anything scream ”’70s shoe salesman” quite like the one-hit-wonder singer.

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