SUMTER, Fla. – Feb. 8, 2017 – Sumter County, Florida, is the best place in the country for a borrower to get a mortgage, according to a new study by SmartAsset.

SmartAsset's study considered four factors to pinpoint the best places in the country to get a mortgage: overall borrowing costs, ease of securing a mortgage, affordable property taxes and affordable annual mortgage payments.

Borrowing costs were analyzed by factoring in expected costs over the first five years of a $200,000 mortgage with a 20 percent downpayment, which included closing costs. Annual mortgage payments reflect the annual principal and interest payments for a $200,000 loan in that location.

The following 10 counties/metro areas ranked highest in SmartAsset's study:

1.Sumter County, Fla.: 71.58% (loan funding rate) – $14,639 (annual mortgage payment)

2.Walton County, Fla.: 60.97% – $14,639

3.Jackson County, Mo.: 65.05% – $14,857

4.Okaloosa County, Fla.: 61.75% – $14,637

5.San Mateo, Calif.: 67.92% – $14,688

6.Collier County, Fla.: 61.31% – $14,639

7.San Francisco, Calif.: 66.61% – $14,688

8.Santa Rosa County, Fla.: 60.67% – $14,639

9.Washington County, Ore.: 67.35% – $14,830

10.Indian River County, Fla.: 62.36% – $14,639

How can buyers score a better mortgage rate?

SmartAsset researchers say the key is to shop around and compare mortgage rates carefully. Don't let buyers fall for a bank's advertisement, which often touts the lowest possible available loan rate – a rate that many borrowers fail to qualify for. Lenders charge borrowers different rates based on the borrower's credit, so it's important to shop around and compare.

Although a 20 percent downpayment loan was used in the SmartAsset study, many banks now also offer low downpayment options for home shoppers.

SmartAsset has an interactive mortgage map on its website that lists ranks, loan funding rates, five-year borrowing costs, property taxes and annual mortgage payments for most counties in Florida and the U.S.

Source: "The Best Places to Get a Mortgage," SmartAsset (2017)

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