One small house in Boise, one giant step in homeownership

By Julie Tramonte

May 2019

There came a point in Meghanne’s 29-year-old life when she decided it was time to “be an adult and buy a house.” And as a loan officer, she wanted to practice what she preached about investing in homeownership.

Then again, living on a dairy farm near Boise, Idaho, with only cows for neighbors could have been a factor, too.

Finding a home in a hot market

Either way, after 11 years of renting, Meghanne was ready to buy a house. As a single woman with an active lifestyle, Meghanne didn’t want an older house that required a lot of work or maintenance, so she focused her search on newer homes. Trouble was, many houses were out of her price range, and those that weren’t got snapped up quickly.

Due to its lower cost of living, Boise is in the midst of a boom. People from more expensive cities, like San Francisco and Seattle, are flocking to the area. In fact, Forbes named Boise America’s fastest-growing city in 2018, with home prices increasing 11.58 percent. After getting priced out of the market in their cities of origin, these transplanted residents weren’t blinking at the median home price of $319,000. This and a shortage of inventory made for a super-hot real estate market – not exactly ideal when you’re looking for your first home and have a limited budget.

Thinking outside the box – and inside the pocket

Being a resourceful millennial, Meghanne started researching her options. She discovered a private non-profit organization, called NeighborWorks® Boise, whose mission is to revitalize communities and offer affordable housing alternatives. This national organization builds pocket neighborhoods consisting of 10-15 energy-efficient homes, clustered together to form a close-knit community. Meghanne qualified for their program by meeting the income limit of $90,000.

Through NeighborWorks Boise, Meghanne found a newly-constructed home affordably priced at $184,000. At only 700 square feet, the adorable small house featured two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a living area, kitchen, front porch and attached garage.

“I fell in love,” says Meghanne, “and the price was perfect.” And because the home wasn’t fully complete, she was able to personalize it by making decisions on the finishes.

A small house with a small down payment

Although NeighborWorks also offers affordable loans, Meghanne chose conventional financing through her employer, a mortgage lending company. Thanks to private mortgage insurance, she was able to put down only 3 percent ($5,520). “I considered making a 5 percent ($9,200) down payment but opted for 3%,” explains Meghanne. “I used the extra $3,680 to buy furniture and keep some money in savings for a rainy day.”

5 months after moving in, her new home had already increased in value, appraising at $205,000 and boosting her equity by $21,000. And, the planned close-knit community will soon be even closer when her co-worker moves into the same pocket neighborhood. Meghanne’s looking forward to having an already-made friend as her neighbor – instead of cows.

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Julie Tramonte is a writer who joined MGIC in 2018. Prior to flying the coop, she wrote for a mattress company, a manufacturer and advertising agencies. She’s obsessed with reading, traveling, tennis and rearranging furniture. Mother of 2 beautiful, adult daughters. Empty nester who recently downsized. Her guilty pleasures are doughnuts and the Kardashians (don’t tell anyone).
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