A report last month from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) says those homeowners who spend a lot of time driving everywhere are at a greater risk of foreclosure.

Using data from three large urban areas – San Francisco, Chicago and Jacksonville – the study found that “factors such as neighborhood compactness, access to public transit, and rates of vehicle ownership are key to predicting mortgage performance and should be taken more seriously by mortgage underwriters, policymakers, and real estate developers.”

It stands to reason that getting to the job, the grocery store and carting the kids to soccer practice may take precedence over paying the mortgage on time. Transportation costs account for approximately 17 percent of average American household income – and more when the price of gas goes up. Homeowners have no control over energy pricing; they do have control over paying the mortgage.

Based on the results of the study, the NRDC made the following recommendations:

1. Public policy relating to land use, infrastructure and transportation should enable and encourage development of location-efficient communities to help improve mortgage performance and reduce foreclosures.

2.Mortgage underwriting practices should be changed to provide access to proportionally better borrowing terms for purchasers of location-efficient homes

3. Further analysis should be conducted by lenders and researchers to develop and refine tools for assessing the impact of location-efficiency variables within their models.

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