Home mortgage graphic for business

Top 10 lists are all the rage these days and I have to wonder how these mostly Internet-based data agencies come up with their findings.

For example, I’ve seen lists proclaiming the 10 happiest cities in the nation. How about the most pet-friendly city? Most overweight? Underweight? Best places for men with beards to live?

OK, I made up that last one, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see it eventually.

One of the top sites to find such lists is an Internet-based site called SmartAsset, a financial technology firm. Recently, the folks there revealed that Citrus County was one of the most affordable places in Florida to retire.

I was on the SmartAsset site the other day and found one of those neat statistical features that I had to click. It was “How Much House can I afford?”

Mike Bates mug for 0429

Michael D. Bates is the author of the Chronicle's Comings & Goings and Mike's Musings columns, which focus on the business developments in Citrus County.

It’s not a top 10 list, but it does use local statistical data in making conclusions about whether Citrus homeowners are taking on more home debt than they can afford. It includes a handy-dandy income calculator so you can custom it to your income level.

I plugged in an average salary of $40,000 and it said right in bold letters that I can comfortably afford a $231,000 home in Inverness or Crystal River. My monthly mortgage payment should not exceed $1,172 which, including other debt payments, represents 36% of income.

And it told me more.

Taxes are 25.95% lower than the national average.

I plugged in other salary parameters and found the following:

If your annual income is $30,000, you can comfortably afford a $199,000 home — also based on $50,000 down.

Make $25,000 a year? Don’t exceed $173,000 for a home.

Earn $20,000 annually? You can afford up to $146,000.

But wait, the SmartAsset report told me more about the community I want to live in. For example, in Inverness and Crystal River, the average annual property tax is 0.80% For that home with an assessed value of $248,000, this would be an annual cost of $1,980.

So take all this as you will. These kinds of lists and statistical reports are subjective and everyone’s situation is different. But they are fun to read.

If you want to try these for yourself and get more detailed explanations of the criteria Smart Asset used, visit smartasset.com/mortgage/how-much-house-can-i-afford.

Contact Chronicle reporter Michael D. Bates at 352-563-3205 or mbates@chronicleonline.com.

Contact Chronicle reporter Michael D. Bates at 352-563-3205 or mbates@chronicleonline.com.

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