Round Rock has earned one of the top 15 spots for best places to buy a house in America, according to Niche's 2021 Best Cities to Buy ranking. (Meagan Falcon/Patch)
ROUND ROCK, TX — Round Rock has earned one of the top 15 spots for best places to buy a house in America, according to Niche's 2021 Best Cities to Buy ranking.
The small-town in Central Texas was named 14th best city to buy a house in America. Other Texas cities that earned the top spots were The Woodlands (#2), Plano (#4) and Richardson (#7).
Round Rock has also earned 19th place in Best Cities to Raise a Family in America, 20th place in Cities with the Best Public Schools in America and 29th place in Best Cities to Live in America.
The rankings were determined by home values, property taxes, home ownership rates, housing costs, and real estate trends using data from the U.S. Census Bureau, FBI, CDC and other agencies, combined with reviews from people that live in the area.
The rankings consider a variety of topics to determine a town or city's standing, including affordability, local housing market, neighborhood diversity, local public schools and walkability, to name a few.
The median home value in Round Rock is $244,300, which is close to the national average that stands at $217,500.
Round Rock also earned high marks for its public schools, as well as its ranking for families, jobs and diversity options — all of which earned an A- or A+ ranking.
The city has earned one of the top 15 spots for best places to buy a house in America, according to Niche's 2021 Best Cities to Buy ranking. (Shutterstock).
The enclave's standing took a bit of a hit when it comes to housing, cost of living, outdoor activities, commute and nightlife, which earned a B- or B+ rating.
The lowest rating for the community in total was crime and safety, which earned a C+ rating. Based on crime statistics, the city has a high number of thefts (1,519) per 100,000 residents.
Burglaries, assaults, motor vehicle thefts and robberies were high for the city; however, rape and murder cases were low, according to Niche's research.
Nationally, Niche's research found that Overland Park, KS was the best place to buy a home in America, while The Woodlands, TX earned the second best spot.
New types of data to determine prospective buyers’ creditworthiness may increase homeownership opportunities for Black and Hispanic Americans. However, standards need to be developed for the use of such data—which come from sources outside traditional credit bureaus—to ensure equitable and responsible lending practices, experts said Thursday during a National Association of REALTORS® webinar on alternative credit scoring.
Ann Schnare and Vanessa Perry, authors of the white paper “Tipping the SCALE: How Alternative Data in Credit Scoring Promote or Impede Fair Lending Goals,” said 21% of Black households and 19% of Hispanic households are considered “unscorable” because they don’t have access to traditional credit. Schnare and Perry suggested that three alternative data sets could help lenders determine “credit-invisible” consumers’ eligibility for loan products, including:
“Minorities are far more likely to be ‘unscorable’ or have relatively weak credit scores using traditional credit bureau data,” said Schnare, president of AB Schnare Associates, a consulting firm specializing in housing and mortgage finance. “Incorporating additional data into the credit evaluation process can open doors for many deserving borrowers and boost minority homeownership rates.” She added that some countries where credit agencies don’t exist are already using alternative data to shape lending practices.
But such data could be misused without legal safeguards, said Perry, professor of marketing, strategic management, and public policy at The George Washington University’s School of Business. “When we start looking at how and where people spend their money, those kinds of indicators can be proxies for race, gender, or neighborhood,” Perry said. “Some of the same issues can apply in the case of social media data. People are assigned a trustworthiness score based on who they associate with online, which is obviously problematic.”
Schnare said banking data likely is the most promising source of alternative data for credit scoring because it’s a more objective way to evaluate someone’s finances and requires the consumer’s approval, which offers a layer of privacy protection. No matter which source of data is used, though, any lending practices around alternative credit scoring should meet the standards of what Schnare and Perry call SCALE.
“The rise of big data greatly expands the options for credit scoring,” Perry noted. “However, predictability is not enough to justify the use of certain kinds of data. Their use must also be consistent with broader social and ethical values.”
NAR President Charlie Oppler said during the webinar that the association plans to use Schnare and Perry’s research to help shape its policy positions and inform its future advocacy efforts on credit scoring.
“A borrower’s credit report and credit score are the gateway to a mortgage,” Oppler said. “But for too long, inaccurate credit reporting methods have raised the cost to borrow while limiting access to mortgage credit for prospective borrowers, particularly those from minority populations and rural communities.”
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