Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Cost of Commuting vs. Housing Costs

The cost of commuting and getting to the activities and places you want to go to has become a significant factor in deciding if a house is affordable or not. Along with the calculation of house size, determining the cost of transportation, parking, and the value of your time spent commuting can determine which neighborhoods you would consider living in. In past years, the decision of location vs. house size and age was not foremost for many relocating buyers. With the rise in gas prices, parking costs, and the terrible toll a long commute can take, I am finding that buyers are more likely to list location and access to transit as a higher priority than they did in the past. Many buyers are more willing to consider buying a condominium next to a transit station, shopping, and entertainment venues than in the past, even if the price is comparable to that of a detached home in a more suburban setting. I am often asked why a buyer would pay $650,000-$1,000,000 for a condo when, for the same price, he/she could have a house, yard, and greater privacy. The convenience of walking to stores, movies, and, sometimes, work, coupled with the ability to lock up and go on a trip can tip the balance. Add to that the modern, elegant surroundings of many of the new condo buildings (which often offer a security desk, fitness room, pool, business and function rooms, etc.), and it really is a choice to live in smaller space of high quality near "the action." Here in North Bethesda, we can have the best of all these worlds. There are plenty of luxurious condos to choose from, but we also have the advantage of the local amenities in the detached homes of Tilden Woods, Old Farm, North Farm, Walnut Woods, Old Hickory Woods, Luxmanor, Windemere, Montrose, Garrett Park, Wickford, and other lovely communities surrounding the North Bethesda "core." A new website is rich in analytical tools that help a buyer determine the travel-housing affordability of neighborhoods throughout the US. The DC Metro area has been charted on this site, www.htaindex.cnt.org.

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