Economists' Outlook

Housing stats and analysis from NAR's research experts.

How Commuting Costs Factor Into Home Buying

Either way you look at it, buyers know that commuting costs are high. Some buyers need to be closer to their job while others need to be closer to school districts. The National Association of REALTORS® released its 2016 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers report to understand the trends of buyers and sellers. One trend we found fascinating that continued in 2016 was the importance of commuting costs. Twenty-nine percent of buyers found commuting costs as being very important to them, and another 39 percent said it was somewhat important to them.

We segmented this group further to learn the main factors that influence a buyer’s neighborhood choice. We found that 65 percent of this group choose a neighborhood as it was convenient to their job. Twenty-three percent of this group compromised on the price of the home. What is also interesting to note is that this group was also made up of 46 percent first-time home buyers, compared to the 35 percent of all buyers that purchased their first home this year.

commuting costs

Of this group, the median age was 38 years old; they bought homes with three bedrooms, two bathrooms, and were typically 1,800 square feet. The median income was $83,900 and the median home price purchased was $215,000.

So how does this compare to other buyers? We segmented married couples that had children under 18 living at home because it was similar in size as a subgroup, which comprised 31 percent of all buyers. Forty-two percent of this group cited that the distance to schools was the most important factor in selecting a neighborhood. Thirty-two percent (up from 27 percent) were first-time buyers, closer to the overall median, and these homes were typically larger with four bedrooms and two bathrooms at 2,200 square feet. The median age for this group was 37 years old; they bought homes with median income of $100,000 and the median home price purchased was $277,000 (up from $260,000 last year).

For unmarried couples, which comprise only eight percent of all buyers, 57 percent said that convenience to a job was the most influential factor when selecting a neighborhood.

The data also indicates that once families had kids, living closer to schools took priority over living closer to work. When segmented for children living at home, respondents reported that they actively compromised on the distance from their jobs more than any other group (16 percent with kids at home, compared to 14 percent of all buyers and 12 percent with no kids at home).

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