In Bristol, Do You Rent or Buy? Research Is The Best Answer

August 24, 2017

In last month’s blog, I talked about the good and affordable amount of housing stock that Bristol has to offer new and seasoned homebuyers alike. Because this isn’t a research article, I won’t get heavy-handed with the data, but reports issued this year regarding the cost of renting vs. owning in the U.S. stated that Connecticut hovers somewhere around the 30% cheaper mark to own a home vs. rent over the course of the same 30-year period. (Considering that you’re building equity, paying your own mortgage, can control and maintain your own energy efficiency features, etc.) So let’s talk about that. We know there are a good amount of affordable houses here. What comes next? What does affordable really mean?

Let’s take a standard, 1980s-ish two-bedroom condo here in Bristol as our example. The average sale price of nearly 100 of these units over the last year is about $115,000 (not counting co-ops or foreclosures.) At $115,000, a mortgage + homeowner’s insurance, mortgage insurance and city taxes ends up in the area of $1,100-$1,200 for your average buyer.

“But what’s an average buyer?”

Well, an average buyer, given those I’ve worked with, would be someone with moderately good credit and a median debt-to-income ratio. For example: someone making $30,000 or so dollars a year, paying off some student loans and a car perhaps, no major collections, credit in the mid to high 600s. This type of person can often qualify for an FHA mortgage with a low 3.5% down payment.

When you take this data, and this same buyer (who almost always says “there’s no way that I could possibly qualify for a mortgage…”) we find they usually have some options. This is especially true since renting the same unit in Bristol averages $1,150 a month, with NOTHING included.

So how does an “average” buyer know it’s time? And what do they have to do to get to the crucial step of getting prequalified?

  • First, they are usually feeling growing pains. They’re either living with or renting from a family member and things are getting… cramped.
  • Remember the study that went viral last month about millennials wanting to buy homes to accommodate their dogs above all else? Let’s just say I absolutely can verify that!
  • The average buyer tends to have a little money socked away, maybe a few thousand dollars. Down payment assistance is also available from many lenders if that’s not the case!
  • They are keeping up on their monthly bills and have enough left over at the end of each pay period to comfortably live without worrying about the basics.
  • They know that their rental payments are just paying someone else’s mortgage, and in the mid 20s to early 30s, it makes good financial sense to start considering investment.

So, does this “typical” buyer sound a little (or a lot!) like you or someone you know? Let’s talk about your options. Make sure you gather crucial financial data, like a basic budget of your monthly income and bills, your latest tax return, last few months of paystubs, and a couple recent bank & asset statements. Knowledge is the first step toward ownership, and it’s much closer to being a reality than you’d expect!


Sarah Johnson is a writer, marketing consultant and REALTOR® with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New England Properties in Farmington. She works with buyers, sellers and renters in Bristol and all over Central Connecticut. She is a 2002 graduate of Bristol Eastern High School and has volunteered on various boards and task forces in Bristol since 2011. Sarah can be reached at or 860-462-3196. Follow her on Facebook at @SarahBJohnsonRealtor





This Week In Bristol

Events for week of September 18, 2017

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Mon 18th

Fun with Carousel Animal Drawing

September 18 @ 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm
The New England Carousel Museum
Tue 19th

"Connecticut Made" with author Cynthia Parzych

September 19 @ 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
Manross Memorial Library
Wed 20th

Book Bites: A Piece of the World

September 20 @ 1:00 pm - 2:30 pm
Bristol Public Library
Thu 21st

Informational Health Fair at Bristol Senior Center

September 21 @ 9:00 am - 12:00 pm
Bristol Senior Center

Mum Festival Opening Night

September 21 @ 5:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Memorial Boulevard School Field
Fri 22nd

Application Assistance

September 22 @ 9:00 am - 3:00 pm
Wheeler Health & Wellness Center

Mum Festival Friday Night

September 22 @ 5:00 pm - 10:00 pm
Memorial Boulevard School Field
Sat 23rd

Bristol Farmer's Market

September 23 @ 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
The Patch

Mermaid and Princess Party

September 23 @ 11:00 am - 3:00 pm
Bristol Public Library – Children’s Area
Sun 24th

Hometown Hero Breakfast

September 24 @ 8:00 am - 11:00 am
American Legion Hall

2017 Mum Festival - "Home is Where the Heart Is"

September 24 @ 12:00 pm - 6:00 pm
Memorial Boulevard