F is for Finance

The housing bubble and ensuing mortgage crisis looms large in the recent memories of architects, builders and homeowners. We believe this disruption will contribute to a different home valuation strategy. We think, after 2010, that affordability is measured by how low is the cost of maintenance—utilities and minor repair—not by initial cost.

Agriculture, Department of, US Selecting and financing a home. [Washington]: U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, 1972. (Collection of the Author) Housing Commission Bipartisan Policy Center. Housing America's Future: New Directions for National Policy. 2015. (graph on p.49) Available from: www.bipartisanpolicy.org

“Efforts to restore housing’s traditional role in the U.S. economy must be accompanied by a commitment to reducing household energy costs and advancing national energy goals. Energy use associated with residential buildings accounts for some 21 percent of the nation’s overall energy use, and the greenhouse gas emissions of a typical home are double that of the average vehicle. Accordingly, efforts to improve the energy efficiency of both existing and newly constructed homes can contribute significantly to the national goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving energy security. Given the additional energy and greenhouse gas emissions associated with long car trips, these goals can further be advanced by increasing the share of homes developed in walkable neighborhoods near public-transit stations and in other areas where households can meet more of their transportation needs through walking, biking, public transit, or shorter car trips. These approaches are additive and together can help reduce household expenditures for transportation and utilities, which already consume a significant share of the budgets of low- and moderate-income households.” p.23

Ed. out: “Cost neutral” energy improvements are balanced by an “energy efficient mortgage” in which monthly utility costs are responsibly factored into what homeowners can afford to pay. The point is not to buy the biggest but the best, defined as a house that is durable, sustainable and comfortable.