ROCKINGHAM — Richmond County’s two biggest cities have made another online list, but this time, it’s for something positive.
SmartAsset.com is a personal finance technology company headquartered in New York City that uses financial modeling to power advice on major financial decisions. The blog portion of the company’s website conducted a housing affordability study and ranked cities in North Carolina with the most affordable homeowners’ insurance. Hamlet ranked No. 4 overall and Rockingham came in at No. 8.
Using the average closing costs in North Carolina of $1,661, the annual property tax of each city, Hamlet’s being $974 and Rockingham’s $1,018, along with the annual homeowners’ insurance rates, annual mortgage payment and median income, the site was able to list each city under a homeowners’ insurance index.
Hamlet’s index number came out to be 96.99 and Rockingham’s 96.79. Now, the index number might not mean much, but what is telling is the high property tax in Richmond County and the fact that the same two cities that previously made another website’s list of two of the worst cities in North Carolina are in the upper echelon of this list. Median income was the number that both lists had in common.
“It is intriguing that both Rockingham and Hamlet wind up on one list one week and then another list shortly thereafter at different ends of the spectrum,” said Wayne Goodwin, North Carolina insurance commissioner. “As a native of Richmond County, I am very pleased with the study by SmartAsset.com showing that my hometown of Hamlet has the fourth-lowest and my most recent Richmond County residence of Rockingham has the eighth-lowest homeowners’ insurance costs among all cities in North Carolina.”
Goodwin admitted he had never heard of SmartAsset.com or visited its website before and cautioned those looking at the numbers to investigate the source for themselves before giving them credence.
“I’m not questioning the validity of some of these websites but it is good to have a question in the back of one’s mind of whether a particular website is valid or not,” he said. “As it relates to homeowners’ insurance, I do have the ability to verify because that’s something we measure as well, county to county. I’m not surprised with the rankings for this particular homeowners’ insurance analysis.”
Goodwin said the difference between each city’s index number is very narrow, and he anticipated that trend continues further down the list. It is beneficial, he said, for those who love Richmond County and the Sandhills to be represented on the list.
Goodwin also said that North Carolina has the lowest auto insurance rates in the country.
“Every day as our elected insurance commissioner, I fight for the lowest and fairest insurance rates for the entire Tar Heel State,” he said. “Insurance ratemaking is a complex subject with many moving parts that rely upon statutes, data, claims, meteorology, construction costs, mathematical models, a free-market economy involving insurance companies and so forth. It’s especially gratifying that Richmond County is among the counties with the most affordable homeowners’ insurance costs.”
The comparison between SmartAsset’s list and the previous RoadSnacks list was noticed by Goodwin, as it will by others who read both studies. He also thinks RoadSnacks got its list wrong and took into account the wrong criteria.
“This study by SmartAsset.com reinforces my objection to a different recent study by RoadSnacks.net that erroneously called these same cities as the least desirable in the state within which to live,” he said. “To the contrary, if that other study had taken into account Richmond County’s quality of life, the cost of living, the cost of insurance, the sheer determination of our people to thrive and grow notwithstanding some significant changes in the manufacturing and textile economy of an earlier era and other factors, then Richmond County would rank better in that other study as well.”
Reach reporter Matt Harrelson at 910-817-2674 and follow him on Twitter @mattyharrelson.