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Last summer, Jamie Nabozny and Bo Shafer went house-shopping, with a laundry list of must-haves. The home of their dreams had to be in Minneapolis, had to have a nice yard for their dog and had to be priced under $140,000. Oh, one more thing: It had to be in move-in condition.
Nabozny had already experienced the headaches and never-ending costs of upgrading several "fixer-uppers" he'd owned and was set on a home that was curtain-ready.
Nabozny and Shafer were surprised to find exactly what they were looking for in north Minneapolis.
The two went on a Get to NOMI Home Buyers tour, which featured a selection of foreclosed homes that had been recently renovated and put on the market. Get to NOMI (the acronym stands for NOrth MInneapolis) is a grass-roots campaign by residents and neighborhood groups to attract prospective buyers by showcasing the area's amenities, including its parks, arts and affordable housing. (Upcoming tours are Aug. 20 and Sept. 13. Go to www.glbtnorthsiders.blogspot.com for more information).
"I had heard about crime in north Minneapolis," said Shafer, who grew up in a small Minnesota town. "But after the tour and meeting people who have lived there for years and had no bad encounters, I was excited to move up there."
Although they didn't find what they were looking for on the first tour, they found a good contact in Stephanie Gruver of the Greater Metropolitan Housing Corp. (GMHC). The nonprofit developer has partnered with the Home Prosperity Fund to purchase dozens of foreclosed north Minneapolis homes, fix them up and sell them to qualified buyers. The goal is to help stabilize neighborhoods hit hard by foreclosures, said Gruver, GMHC special projects coordinator.
"We do a full renovation so the home can go 10 to 15 years with minimal investment," said Gruver.
The renovated homes are priced at market rate, but many north Minneapolis neighborhoods offer quality housing in price ranges attainable for first-time home buyers, she said.
By fall, Nabozny and Shafer had found and fell in love with a 1951 three-bedroom stucco bungalow in the Jordan neighborhood.
The biggest selling point? The GMHC had done an $84,000 rehab that included knocking down walls to expand the tiny galley kitchen and opening up the cramped floor plan. The main floor now boasts refinished hardwood floors and the attic has been converted into a master bedroom with a new bathroom and plenty of closets. The home has new mechanical systems, windows and roof. The exterior stucco had been repaired and painted. And there's a new two-car garage.
Nabozny and Shafer, who both work for Wells Fargo in the retail bank division, bought the 1,350-square-foot house for $135,000 with financing from the Sustainable Home Ownership Program (SHOP), which allows people to buy houses with a contract for deed while they rebuild their credit and receive financial counseling.
Because the GMHC had done all the big stuff, Nabozny and Shafer can focus on a few manageable projects, such as laying a paver patio and finishing the basement to expand their living space.
And they've fit in well with what Shafer calls their "tight-knit community." They've even joined a kickball league at nearby Folwell Park.
"We want to stay and start a family," said Nabozny, referring to their plans to eventually adopt. "Although it will be different than the families of 50 years ago."
Lynn Underwood • 612-673-7619