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Fairhope, Alabama

Charming Fairhope is on a bluff overlooking Alabama's Mobile Bay and was founded by a group of tax reformers in the late-1800s. Their creation, the Fairhope Single Tax Corporation (FSTC), still exists today and is one of two such tax colonies in the U.S.

Over the years, Fairhope has morphed from a tax reformer's dream into a very nice Mobile suburb. The fact that the FSTC still owns 4,500 Fairhope acres is partly why the city is so beautifully landscaped 135 years after its inception.

Locals enjoy sweeping waterfront vistas and a tree-lined downtown with bookstores, art galleries, boutiques and restaurants. Colorful flower baskets hang from nearly every lamp post. Each year, 200 trees are planted throughout town.

The Fairhope Pier is a town highlight with duck ponds, a water fountain and rose gardens. There are three marinas, with nearly every kind water vessel imaginable.

The annual Arts and Crafts Festival is one of the oldest, largest festivals of its kind in the South, drawing artists and fine craftsmen from around the country. The yearly Jubilee, when crab and shrimp swarm the shallow waters, is a popular event. The Fairhope Yacht Club sponsors regattas throughout the year.

Cost of Living

Fairhope has an overall cost of living that meets the national average.

The median household income is $70,330.

Real Estate

The median home price is $385,200. This is a 12% increase over the previous year. For comparison, the national median home price is currently $380,000 (Realtor.com).

Estimates are that Fairhope real estate prices will increase by 3% over the next year.

The median rental price is $1,195 per month.


Fairhope has 22,000 residents. The population has grown by 25% during the last decade.

The median age is 45. For comparison, the median age of the U.S. population is 38.

Thomas Hospital is the local medical center and is well regarded.

The crime rate meets the national average.

Hurricanes are always a possibility. In fact, Sally caused some damage in 2020.

People love this town.


The sales tax rate is 9%.

Alabama does not tax Social Security or private or public pension income. It does tax income from retirement accounts such as IRAs and 401(k)s at a rate of 2% to 5%, depending on annual income.

The average effective property tax rate (the annual tax payment as a percentage of median home value) in Fairhope is .31%. The annual taxes on a $385,200 home are approximately $1,194.

Mortgages for Retirees

As people live longer and mortgage rates are at historic lows, more and more retired folks are considering obtaining a mortgage rather than paying cash for a new home. You are never "too old" to get a mortgage, thanks to the Equal Opportunity Credit Act, as long as you have the means to do so.

Having said that, retirees face some unique challenges when it comes to qualifying for a mortgage. Most mortgage lenders will look at the same criteria as they would for a young first time homebuyer, including your credit history, debt to income ratio and monthly income. The good news is that Social Security benefits and distributions from 401(k)s, IRAs, and other retirement accounts count as income.

However, because retirement accounts become depleted over time they have a defined expiration date. As a result, a mortgage lender will want to know that the distribution income will continue for at least three years after the date of the mortgage application.

It is also important to keep in mind that if your retirement accounts consist of stocks, bonds, or mutual funds or other "volitle" investments, mortgage lenders will only use 70% of the value in the retirement accounts to determine your mortgage qualifcation.

And while Social Security counts as income, if you are drawing on a family member’s record, such as survivor benefits or spousal benefits, then the income must be documented as payable for at least three years from the mortgage application date.

If you cannot qualify for a traditional mortgage, then a reverse mortgage might be an option. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac also have programs that can make home buying easier. Check with a reverse mortgage lender or these goverment agencies to see loans and programs available to you.



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