Factor Transportation Costs into Housing Considerations

by Karen Briscoe
June 19, 2019

The most expensive residential real estate is that in closest proximity to the city center for most metropolitan areas. The reason is obvious. Land values are typically higher and there is usually greater density.  Many home buyers venture to the suburbs to get more land and greater interior square footage. The country beckons on a Sunday drive and seems so lovely-that is until Monday morning or Thursday evening when the dreaded commute looms.

The Washington DC metro region is second in the nation for longest commute, trailing only Boston which is in the #1 slot.  Drivers in the DC metro area spend 155 hours annually commuting.  
The Center for Neighborhood Technology provides reports based on census data coupled with income and local transportation costs that are good guides to utilize with buyers. CNT President, Scott Bernstein, was quoted in the Washington Post:  “The farther you get out, the cost of transportation can double. Somewhere between eight and 12 miles out from the center . . . housing costs dropped precipitously, but transportation costs went way up.” 
One aspect to transportation costs which is more difficult to quantify is commute time. In a way it is an opportunity cost, the lost opportunity of doing something other than sitting in and navigating traffic! 
It is worth considering that the combined cost of a home that requires a longer commute by car might exceed that of a more expensive home located closer to transit or employment center. The work week for most is Monday through Friday with weekends as personal time at home. That means that the commute effects 5/7 of one’s life. In one year’s time, accounting for holidays and 2 weeks of vacation that translates into the average worker spending 90% of his days in commute. 
When locating to a new area, it is helpful to drive the commute during high traffic a few times prior to making a move decision. What seems like a reasonable drive on the weekend can become torture when the roadways are clogged with other commuters. Keep in mind too that most people who telecommute one day per week tend to select Friday. Mid-week days, particularly Wednesday or hump day often is the peak traffic day in most metro areas. 

Keep in mind too during summer and other vacation seasons traffic often decreases significantly.  Thus the true barometer to check a commute is on anticipated full traffic days.
Karen Briscoe and Lizzy Conroy and their team of agents at HBC Group at Keller Williams are here to help you factor transportation costs in the home buying decision in the Northern Virginia, Washington DC and suburban Maryland area. Please reach out at: www.HBCGroupKW.com, 703-734-0192, Homes@HBCGroupKW.com.

Karen Briscoe is a partner of the Huckaby Briscoe Conroy Realty Group (HBC). The HBC Realty Group has been named to the Wall Street Journal Top Realtor® Team List. Over the years, the group has sold over 1,000 homes valued at over $1 billion...
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