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Smart Commute™ Plus

Smart Commute™ Plus makes it easier for homebuyers to purchase a house located near a COTA (Central Ohio Transit Authority) bus stop. Borrowers who participate in the Smart Commute™ Plus initiative will also receive a free COTA bus pass for one full year.

Key Features

The key features of the Smart Commute™ Plus mortgage include:

  • Low down payment - many borrowers will need only $500 of their own funds, and may also qualify for gift, grants or down payment assistance
  • Flexible qualifying guidelines - borrowers will be evaluated on the basis of credit and income history, employment and ability to pay, using debt-to-income ratios up to 41%
  • Special features to help teachers, police and firefighters to buy a home
  • Consideration for households with non-traditional credit
  • Savings allowance - to account for the savings you would realize by riding COTA, $200 for a single income household or $250 for a two-income household will be factored into the homebuyer's monthly income for loan qualification purposes
  • Non-traditional credit - consideration for households with non-traditional credit
  • Save on transportation cost- to encourage consumers to make the smart choice of using COTA to save on transportation costs, households can own no more than two vehicles.
  • Homebuyer education - first time homebuyers are encouraged to participate in free homebuyer education

Is your property Smart Commute eligible? Check the free Fannie Mae Geocoder.


Jeff Brader, Colony Mortgage - (614) 891-9100
Loretta King, Huntington Mortgage - (614) 480-0489
Sandy Zimmerman, National City Mortgage - (614) 889-3889
Mark Spangler, Sky Bank, (614) 545-4148


If your listing qualifies, you can:

  • Put "Smart Commute Eligible" in the remarks section of your CBR Tempo listing information and
  • Post a "Smart Commute Eligible" sign next to your 'for sale' sign in the yard.

Signs are available to members, free of charge, at the CBR Member Service Center. Having the signs appear throughout Columbus neighborhoods will help customers recognize the value of living near COTA transit stops.

Many of the homes or homebuyers who qualify for the Smart Commute mortgage will also be eligible for other homeownership incentives such as down payment assistance or tax abatement. To make it easy to combine the benefits of a Smart Commute mortgage, a COTA pass with other incentives, information will be conveniently identified on a website hosted by Columbus Housing Partnership (

"Smart Commute™ Plus will help our employees buy a home and get to work," says Keith Goodwin, President/COO, Columbus Children's Hospital. "With homebuyer education and information from Columbus Housing Partnership, this will really open doors for people who want to own a home."

COTA worked with the other partners in Smart Commute™ Plus to offer a way for local families to participate in the American dream of homeownership, and to benefit their families for generations to come. Numerous studies have all reached the same conclusion: homeownership benefits not just the home-owning families, but also their communities, the economy and the nation as a whole. Owning a home is the single most powerful way most families in America can build equity wealth for the future.

The Smart Commute mortgage is available through two participating lenders. For more information contact:

Smart Commute™ Plus is a public/private partnership with COTA, Fannie Mae, the City of Columbus Partnership For America's 21st Century City, Columbus Housing Partnership, Columbus Board of REALTORS®, Huntington Bank, and National City Bank. The initiative promotes smart growth principles of affordable housing and reduced traffic congestion by linking housing choice to public transit. The Smart Commute™ Plus mortgage product allows borrowers to qualify for a larger mortgage if they buy a home within one-quarter mile of a COTA transit stop.

According to Columbus Mayor Michael B. Coleman, the Smart Commute™ Plus partnership is bringing to the city of Columbus just what it needs, just when it needs it. "Columbus is the best place to live, work and raise a family," states Mayor Coleman. "Now it's even better, with Smart Commute™ Plus to help you buy a home and save money on transportation."

COTA is excited to join with the City of Columbus, Columbus Housing Partnership, Fannie Mae, Huntington Mortgage, National City and Columbus Board of REALTORS® to encourage families to get on board the American dream of homeownership.