A recent study by the Center for Housing Policy and the Center for Neighborhood Technology suggests that borrowers of moderate means would be smart to calculate the costs of commuting before buying. 
Making sense of the story

  • The study, which looked at transportation and housing costs in the 25 largest metropolitan areas, found that transportation costs rose faster than incomes in every area over the last decade.
  • That has added to the financial burden shouldered by moderate-income homeowners, defined as households earning 50 to 100 percent of a metropolitan area’s median income.  Transportation consumes 30 percent of their income, on average.  Add housing costs to that and the combined cost burden rises to 72 percent.
  • The study also found that some metropolitan areas generally considered more affordable become less so after transportation is figured in.

Mortgage underwriters sometimes look at a home’s location relative to where the buyer works, but in most cases a long distance between the two is an issue only if it suggests that the buyer isn’t actually going to live in the house.