How Important are Public Transportation and Drive Times When Buying a Home?

How Do Transit Times Impact Homebuyers?As the adage goes, the three most essential factors in choosing a home are "location, location, location." When most people think of location, they think of quiet neighborhoods, nearby schools, and local amenities. But an equally important part of the location equation is the transportation factor. Namely, what roads are nearby, what drive times are like, and whether the home is close to public transportation. Access to good transportation can impact your daily enjoyment of a home and the overall property value. Keep reading to learn the other ways in which public transit and drive times matter when buying a home.

For informational purposes only. Always consult with a licensed real estate professional before proceeding with any real estate transaction.

Why Consider Transit and Drive Times?

Everyone should consider transit and drive times when buying a home because travel always comes with a cost. When people compare the price of homes, they often evaluate the mortgage principal, common down payment myths, interest rates, taxes, and insurance. However, sometimes, they don't think about how much they'll drive over the next five, 10, or 20 years. A 40-mile daily round-trip commute eats up thousands a year in gas, depreciation, and other auto expenses.

There's another cost factor: a home that's closer to good roads and public transportation is more likely to appreciate. There's a potential monetary gain even for those who don't choose to take transit or those with an expensive commute.

There's also the convenience consideration. Time spent driving is not often quality time. The faster one gets home from work, and the more enjoyable the evenings are likely to be. If you commute 30 minutes each way, that's five hours a week, and more during traffic jams or bad weather.

It's not just the trip to work that matters. Anyone who attends classes, goes shopping, or loves to try new restaurants will want easy access to roads, buses, and trains to get them there. Lack of transit and long drive times from home are isolating factors that can make people feel "stuck at home."

How Close Should Public Transit and Main Highways Be?

Most people want to live in a convenient location. Quick access to freeways and major roads, along with close-by train stations and bus stops, make it easy to get places. However, there are pros and cons to living too close to major roads.

While they lead to faster commutes and quick trips to the store, close-by major roadways can also be noisy and dirty. Sometimes congestion spills over into residential streets. There can be a level of danger for children and pets.

People generally want public transportation near home to be close enough to walk but far enough away to avoid noise, traffic jams, and congested sidewalks. Typically that's more than a couple of blocks but less than half a mile.

How To Evaluate a Home for Travel Times

At one time, the best way to understand commute times was to visit the neighborhood and drive to the workplace during morning and evening rush hours. With today's map applications, you can get the same results without leaving your house. It just takes a few clicks to find the best routes and expected drive times during rush hours. It's wise to try it on several days to eliminate unusual conditions.

Of course, work isn't the only place people go. It's also helpful to know how long it takes to get to the nearest grocery store or a restaurant district. The distance to doctors and hospitals is significant as well.

Freeway access points are essential. Even if a freeway goes everywhere, it's not as valuable if it's hard to access.

People who plan to use public transportation should look up the bus and train schedules. They ought to identify the closest stops and ensure stop frequencies are adequate. Online reviews of the transit services will show whether they are on time, comfortable, and generally reliable. Also, rideshare apps will show whether Uber and Lyft drivers are usually available in the vicinity.

Noise levels and air quality are harder to evaluate from afar. One can hazard a guess from looking at a map, but it takes a visitor asking someone local to find out.

Transportation Is Part of a Full Home Evaluation

Of all the questions to ask before relocating for a job, "how's the transit?" should be at the top of your list. You may be buying the most gorgeous home in the world, but you aren't going to spend all your time there. It's essential to know how much effort and expense it will take to get to the other places you need to go.

For informational purposes only. Always consult with a licensed real estate professional before proceeding with any real estate transaction.

Post a Comment