Moving to the ‘burbs to reduce your cost of living?

Not so fast! It’s difficult for folks to afford to live in this region, suburbs or not, but Seattle is one of the few cities in the country where it is possible to get a location-efficient mortgage (LEM). If you buy in a community that provides strong alternative transportation options, the money you will save on commuting is counted as income, and you can qualify for a larger mortgage than you otherwise would have.

On a related note, I found this on Detroit’s Transportation Riders United Web site:

Common mortgage-lending practices make urban living artificially unaffordable. Most homeowners devote about 55 percent of their income to housing and transportation costs combined. Families in suburban areas spend 30 percent on their homes and 25 percent or more on their cars. Those in urban neighborhoods with good transit spend a mere 10 percent getting around but 45 percent on their homes.

But mortgage bankers rarely allow housing payments to exceed 30 percent of income, so urban abodes are “mortgage unaffordable” for many buyers. The mortgage industry’s view steers buyers to the suburbs, indirectly increasing air pollution, traffic, and sprawl.

Patrick H. Hare