Sarah Adler: Rural home ownership offers better pricing, value

As USDA celebrates June as Homeownership Month, it gives us an opportunity to reflect on how we enable homeownership and community building, literally at the foundations.

The Reno Gazette-Journal’s recent front-page article “Reno Rent Breaking Records and Budgets” made us think about where incoming workers will live in the region.

The Tahoe Reno Industrial Center (TRIC) east of Reno conservatively estimates that the three big companies now building on site there (Tesla, Panasonic and Switch) will hire over 20,000 new employees over the next five years. Where are these workers going to live? Must they fight it out for spots in Reno, or is there another option?

We want employees at TRIC to realize that one of Western Nevada’s small towns is a good option to buy a home. Consider that Fernley is 22 minutes from TRIC, Fallon is 46 minutes away, and Lovelock is just over an hour. Once the new USA Parkway goes in, Silver Springs, Dayton, and Yerington will be accessible too. Moreover, in those communities, homebuyers can receive 100 percent financing from our agency, sometimes at a reduced interest rate.

Why is our agency investing in rural areas? The origin of our programs was post-Depression when rural America was agrarian and farmers and farm workers needed a place to live. Now we help to maintain the vitality of communities that have already invested, often through another of our programs, in schools, hospitals, infrastructure, and business development.

Since 2009, USDA Rural Development Nevada has helped more than 5,000 families move into a home of their own, investing more than $857 million in home loans and repair. These families are careful users of credit, but without the savings or income to participate in conventional mortgage loans. Many modest-income homebuyers can use USDA’s Guaranteed Home Loan to buy a good value home in eligible rural areas — which is just about anywhere but metropolitan Clark, Washoe and Carson counties in Nevada.

The value of rural homeownership really adds up is when you factor together the lower housing prices, engaged community spirit, enhanced quality of life and increased youth and adult leadership opportunities. Here is what we have experienced:

Lower housing prices — Compared to metropolitan Nevada, rural Nevada housing prices are lower. The median existing home price in metropolitan areas of Nevada is between $230,000-$350,000 for a 25-year-old three-bedroom, two-bath house, compared to $125,000-$300,000 for a comparable home in nearby rural counties, like Churchill, Lyon, Pershing and Humboldt.

According to the Lied Institute for Real Estate Studies at University of Nevada Las Vegas, the rural trends from March 2016 show that this spring’s existing home prices in rural areas were the lowest they had been since July 2013. Considering the spiraling upward home prices in metropolitan counties, that is good news for homebuyers who are shopping.

Engaged community spirit — We all know that big metropolitan communities offer more museum, arts, music and culture, right? Well, maybe. The cultural assets in Nevada’s small towns are actually incredible. Nevertheless, if you or your family want to have a more community-oriented life style, where you are known — not just by friends or the barkeep — but also by the librarian, the fire chief, the 4-H leader, the coach, and the mayor, then a smaller town, with a more rural experience, might be the right choice.

Enhanced quality of life — For many Nevadans, access to recreational activities, like hunting and fishing, off-highway vehicles and mountain biking, are primary considerations when choosing where to live. In rural towns, these natural amenities are available right at the edge of town — no extra charge!

More “first-string” experiences — As I have been known to say, “Would you like your child to play first string, or third string?” If you want your son or daughter to have a first-string experience, move to rural Nevada. Chances are good that they will be elevated, not just because of the number of classmates, but because they have more individual time with teachers, coaches, and mom and dad. Children are inspired when they can connect and identify with leaders in their community, and smaller communities offer opportunities for connection at every level. The sports analogy really does apply here, because most everyone is involved with youth and high school sports, as a participant, cheering, or in booster activities.

To learn more about our 100 percent financing home ownership opportunities, visit, or come see our staff at our offices in Elko, Carson City or Las Vegas.

USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, has an active portfolio of more than $213 billion in loans and loan guarantees. These programs are designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America.

Sarah Adler is the USDA Rural Development Nevada State Director.


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