In preparing its report, LendingTree crunched the numbers on average consumer credit scores, indebtedness and loan-to-value ratios for consumers seeking mortgage loans across the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and also "America" as a nationwide average -- so 52 entries in total.
The results may surprise you. (Click to view larger image.)
LendingTree, owned by Tree.com (TREE), then converted these numbers into a weighted average score running from 0 to 100 -- and ranked the entries from 1 through 52. What you see above is a LendingTree infographic reflecting the results, highlighting the 10 states with the worst "borrower health" and the 10 states with the best.
After running this report, LendingTree came away with some surprising revelations. For example:
- Consumers' average credit scores in America have increased by more than 10 points over the past year -- so credit quality is improving.
- Average loan-to-value ratios (the amount of the mortgage loan sought, relative to the price of the house) have declined by 1.6 percent -- so consumers are better able to afford the loans they're seeking.
- 41 individual states saw their average credit scores rise, and 43 saw their loan-to-value ratios decline.
The Atlantic magazine recently pointed out that California is home to seven of the 10 most expensive metropolitan housing markets in the country. It's also the third most expensive housing market, as a state, in the entire country (as of the end of 2012), with the average house costing upwards of $431,000.
Yet according to LendingTree, the high quality of California homebuyers makes this a great state in which to lend -- or borrow -- money to buy a home. The average California homebuyer boasts a credit score of 679, a loan-to-value ratio of 85.6 percent, and scores a 90.77 (out of 100) on LendingTree's weighted scale.
Massachusetts, home to the second most expensive housing market in the land ($489,000 and up), is nonetheless No. 4 on LendingTree's list of healthy homebuyer-borrowers. Its homebuyers receive a respectable 91.76 score on the LendingTree Borrower Health Report.
Average credit scores here are a palindromic 676, just three points below those of California, while the average loan-to-value ratio matches California's 85.6 percent.
The Aloha State holds the honor of being the most expensive state in the Union in which to buy a home ($742,000), and also of hosting the most expensive municipal housing market as well -- Honolulu. Yet with a Borrower Health rating of 92.09, residents seem to have little trouble getting their mortgages approved here.
If the average loan-to-value ratio is a bit high at 87.7 percent, then the credit quality of the borrowers more than makes up for that. Credit scores average 677 points.
2. New Jersey
Despite the bad rap it gets on television (and in New York), New Jersey charges a steep price of admission to its housing market, where houses cost an average of $421,000. That makes the Garden State the fourth most expensive in the land. And yet, big incomes from commuters into the Big Apple help to defray that cost, and keep loan-to-value ratios down to a manageable 83.9 percent, while credit scores average a respectable 679 points.
Borrower health score: 93.67.
1. Washington D.C.
And finally -- drum roll, please -- we come to the No. 1 best place to get a loan to buy a house in these 50 states and one district: It's that district itself, Washington, D.C. Clearing runner-ups New Jersey and California by an even 10 points, credit scores average 689 in the District. And if the residents there bemoan "taxation without representation," well, at least they've got enough disposable income lying around to keep loan-to-value ratios down around 85.3 percent.
Put it all together, mix well, and out pops LendingTree's conclusion: With a 96.53 score for "borrower health," the nation's capital has the "healthiest" borrowers in the nation, and so should be the easiest place in the country for residents to get a new home mortgage.
Motley Fool contributor Rich Smith has no position in any stocks mentioned.