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How far are Boston homeowners willing to commute?

by Liz Hughes

With the increased number of professionals working remotely, today’s homebuyers are putting less of a premium on commute time and more on affordability in their search, often finding a home farther out from downtown areas, including right here in Boston. 

Using traffic data from HERE Technologies, Zillow found affordability to be more important than commute time. According to the report, home values are growing slowest and even falling in expensive areas close to downtown where jobs are centered, a trend reflecting homeowners’ desire for better affordability and more space because of the flexibility remote work offers.

“The pandemic significantly impacted roadway congestion levels, traffic patterns and the timing of traditional ‘rush hours’ across America,” HERE Traffic Data Scientist Kyle Jackson said in a release. “Remote work flexibility has contributed to morning rush hours being less congested and, in some markets, morning rush hour moved 60 minutes later.”

In Boston, the median price of homes within a 10-minute commute to downtown is $830,293 — that’s $21,175 lower than in 2019. 

Since 2019, homes 61 to 70 minutes away from downtown appreciated the most, up 30.2%.

Home prices located 10 minutes or less from downtown are down 2.5%.

“Homebuyers are placing less of a premium on a short commute thanks to the rise of remote work,” Zillow Economic Data Analyst Nicole Bachaud said in the release. “Americans are searching for a combination of affordability and more space, whether that’s outdoor space or an extra bedroom to turn into a home office. In expensive, dense markets, that usually means a home farther out from the downtown core, which is more palatable when you don’t need to commute every day, if at all. In more sprawling metros, buyers are flocking to less expensive downtown cores, bringing a renewed interest to these city centers.”

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