Buying your first home? Finance it with #ONEMortgage, state's most affordable program. MORE

First-time buyer? Check out ONE Mortgage

With ONE Mortgage, Jackie Coston makes her homeownership dream come true

Posted on July 21, 2021

By Lisa Braxton

BOSTON --- When the closet shelves collapsed in the Allston-Brighton apartment Jacqueline Coston was renting just out of college, she got on the phone with maintenance and a worker made the repairs the next day.

5 pictures capture Coston's quest to own a home

Fast forward to the present and Coston is the one getting maintenance calls. Since purchasing a two-family house in Dorchester in June 2020 and simultaneously becoming a first-time homeowner and a landlord, she’s managed plumbing problems, broken doors and windows, a leaking roof, renters who locked themselves out, and an additional set of tenants she hadn’t bargained for - a family of squirrels nesting in the attic.

“You name it, I’ve probably experienced it,” the Boston native said with a laugh. “It’s the price we pay as landlords.”

In spite of the challenges, including a hefty fee to evict the squirrels, Coston says she doesn’t have buyer’s remorse.

“It was a business decision. I see it as stability, a way to build generational wealth. Financially, it made the most sense to me.”

Fond of making lists

Coston, 26, was able to buy her home thanks to a low-cost mortgage from MHP’s ONE Mortgage Program. Developed in 1990 to address racial disparities in mortgage lending, the program has helped more than 23,000 low- and moderate-income families buy their first home. It is the state’s most affordable mortgage product and more than half of all loans have been made by people of color. Participating lenders offer below-market fixed interest rates. A state-funded loan loss reserve means borrowers don’t have to buy costly private mortgage insurance, saving hundreds more each year.

Coston is fond of making checklists. Homeownership rose to the top when she entered UMass Boston as a freshman. She had won a scholarship, was living at home, and working part-time, which gave her the breathing room to save. She created her own self-study program, guided by presentations from some of the nation’s high-profile personal finance gurus.

A friend who owned a duplex suggested that Coston purchase a multi-family house as an investment property instead of the single-family home she had envisioned. But some friends cautioned her on this, giving a litany of potential headaches she’d face as a landlord. However, Coston seriously considered the duplex owners opinion, thinking a multi-family could be a sound investment additionally beneficial if she could buy in Dorchester near her family.

Not long after Coston graduated with her bachelor’s degree in business management, she registered for a first-time homebuyer’s class, which included a presentation by a representative of another first-time homebuyer program. He mentioned MHP’s ONE Mortgage Program. As he was leaving, Coston met him at the elevator to get more details. Days later on her lunch break she walked the several blocks from her job and knocked on MHP’s door.

“I am that person that when I have questions I am going to ask whoever is available to speak with me,” she said.

Coston met with Homeownership Program Manager Isabel Cruz to learn more about ONE Mortgage.

“Jacqueline was on an information gathering journey,” recalled Cruz. “She had a folder and notebook for resources. She had been saving for a while for a down payment and I remember her expressing wanting to buy a multi-family property in Boston as an investment and to remain close to family and community. She was excited and at the same time realistic about the challenges of buying a home.”

Loves being close to family

Coston was able to put three percent down, didn’t have to pay private mortgage insurance and obtained a conventional 30-year loan from Citizens Bank, one of over 40 lenders that offer the program. She received down payment assistance from the City of Boston. And the house is only minutes away from family.

“It’s too good for my mother because she’ll pop up anytime. She has her own key so she’ll let herself in. My sisters can walk and be here. I love being close to family.”

“Jacqueline was on an information gathering journey,” recalled Cruz. “She had a folder and notebook for resources. She had been saving for a while for a down payment and I remember her expressing wanting to buy a multi-family property in Boston as an investment and to remain close to family and community. She was excited and at the same time realistic about the challenges of buying a home.”

Coston lives on the first floor of the 2,745-square foot house and tenants who had been renting the second floor have remained. Recently, she renewed their lease. By her calculations she is easily paying less than she was when she was renting the apartment. However, she says she’s going to wait a while before depositing the savings into her bank account. During her first year of ownership she invested in the property, spending around $22,000 to update the electrical system, replace windows, fix broken doors, and change some locks.

Coston says when she established her goal to purchase a home, she estimated that she’d have to save for six years. She was able to beat that benchmark by at least two.

“I tell all my friends, anyone who’s looking to purchase about ONE Mortgage and ONE+Boston. Even if you don’t feel you have enough money and student loan debt, build a team you trust, your loan officer, realtor, an attorney, and a good inspector.”

The next items on Coston’s checklist? Hosting game night with family and friends, having a “girls’ night in” cookie bakeoff, and creating memories in a home she expects will be in her family for many generations.

(Lisa Braxton is communications coordinator at MHP. For more information about ONE Mortgage, email her at lbraxton@mhp.net).