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Niceville, Florida

Once known as Boggy Bayou, Niceville sits next to Choctawhatchee Bay on Florida's western Panhandle. It backs up to Eglin Air Force Base, home of the Air Force Test Center and the 96th Test Wing.

The Mattie Kelly Arts Center has an art gallery, theater presentations and symphony orchestra performances. The Boggy Fest is a fun annual celebration with plenty of food and music. Locals also enjoy a Saturday farmers' market, a dog park and a decent menu of retailers and restaurants. Housing ranges from mobile homes to stylish custom residences along the water.

Most of Niceville's shoreline is commercially or privately owned, but Henderson State Park, about 13 miles away, has sugar white beaches, a boardwalk and camping areas. Three more beach parks are within a short drive.

Cost of Living

Niceville has an overall cost of living 2% above the national average.

The median household income is $76,825.

Real Estate

The median home price is $390,000. This reflects a 17% increase over the previous year. For comparison, the national median home price is currently $380,000.

Estimates are that Niceville real estate prices will increase by 4% over the next year.

The median rental price is $1,100 per month.

Notes

Niceville has 16,000 residents. The population has grown by 15% during the last decade.

The median age is 39. For comparison, the median age of the U.S. population is 38.

Twin Cities Hospital is the local medical center.

The crime rate is below the national average.

Niceville is popular with military families and retirees.

Hurricane Irma brushed ashore in 2017. Future hurricanes are always a possibility.

Taxes

The combined sales tax rate is 7%.

Florida does not tax Social Security benefits or any other retirememt income.

Florida's property tax homestead exemption reduces the assessed value of a home by $50,000, so a residence that is actually worth $100,000 is only taxed on $50,000. Residents age 65 and older who meet certain income limits may receive an extra homestead exemption of up to $50,000.

The average effective property tax rate (the annual tax payment as a percentage of median home value) in Niceville is .70%. The annual taxes on a $390,000 home are approximately $2,730, without a homestead exemption.

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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