WalletHub.com ranks Visalia 135th overall of 300 cities across the nation for affordability, real estate market and quality of life


VISALIA – Visalia was recently ranked in the top half of cities listed as the best places for first-time homebuyers, not just in California, but across the nation.

WalletHub, personal finance web site offering analysis to consumers, compared 300 cities of varying sizes across 27 key indicators of market attractiveness, affordability and quality of life. The data set ranged from cost of living to real-estate taxes to property-crime rate.

According to WalletHub, the search for a first home requires careful consideration of a number of factors. Buyers must balance what they want and need with what they can afford. Often, people begin searching for their dream homes without a realistic idea of market prices, interest rates or even their eligibility to get a mortgage.

Where a home is located is just as important as what features it has. If the neighborhood is unpleasant, it can sour the experience of a great home. Potential buyers may want to narrow their search down to an area with a good reputation before getting into housing details.

WalletHub attempts to do that for the consumer with the ranking of “Best Place for First-Time Homebuyers.” Visalia ranked 135th on the list just behind other Central Valley cities, Bakersfield (134) and Clovis (107), but ahead of Fresno (173). To determine the most favorable housing markets for first-time home buyers, WalletHub compared a sample of 300 U.S. cities (varying in size) across three key dimensions: 1) affordability, 2) real estate market and 3) quality of life. Visalia ranked 81st in affordability which included factors such as median house price, median household income, cost of homeowner’s insurance, cost per square foot and real estate taxes. The only Central Valley city to score better than Visalia was Bakersfield, which came in at No. 50. 

Visalia ranked in the middle of the pack for both real estate market and quality of life. The city’s real estate market ranked 158th and included factors such as rent-to-price ratio, share of homes sold, home price appreciation, foreclosure rate, buyers vs. renters, building permit activity, agents and lenders per capita, and homeownership rate for millennials. Visalia was tops among Central Valley cities in this category beating out Clovis, Fresno and Bakersfield.

Visalia’s quality of life came in on the top half of the list at No. 143. The measurement takes many factors into consideration including recreation, weather, schools, driver friendliness, job market, home energy costs, as well as property and violent crime rates. The nearest Central Valley city was Clovis with a rank of 155.

Of course every city on the list of “least affordable” was also in California, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Sunnyvale, San Mateo and Berkeley. Sunnyvale and San Francisco, along with Fremont, also made the list of “Highest Cost of Living.” No California cities were among the “Most Affordable” or “Lowest Cost of Living” lists. Bakersfield and Stockton were among the cities that had the “highest total home-energy cost.”

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