Building Wealth with Shared Equity

Molly Doherty
Molly. Doherty
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When asked her favorite thing about her home in Colchester, Molly Doherty has a quick answer. While she really appreciates the natural light and original hardwood floors, something else comes out first.

“It’s mine!”

Room by room, she is starting to make the third floor walk-up her own. She decorates and has plans for a summer renovation project. It’s a work in progress.

“The guest room definitely still has a few boxes to be unpacked.”

Being a homeowner still feels strange for her. It’s not something that she imagined would be in the cards for her at this point in her life, but Champlain Housing Trust’s Shared Equity homeownership program made it happen. Now that she’s in her home in Colchester, near Fort Ethan Allen Park, she’s surprised how well it’s all come together.

If there is a traditional path to homeownership, Molly definitely did not take it. Then again, she’s never been one to follow the traditional path.

After getting her associate degree at Community College of Vermont, she realized that completing her bachelor degree wasn’t the right decision for her at that point.

“I decided that I wasn’t going to waste money on school if I didn’t know what I wanted to do.”

The thing she wanted to do was see the world, and find something that she felt passionate about. So for close to a decade Molly traveled and lived all over. Spending time in places like Portland, Oregon, and Brisbane, Australia. In doing so, she discovered that she really enjoyed working with children.

After receiving a Bachelor of Arts in Social Sciences and a certification in Early Childhood Teaching at Tulane University in New Orleans, Molly made her way back home to Vermont, and became a pre-school teacher, a job she loves.

“Teaching children brings me immense joy. I feel like I’m enlightening each child and helping to shape the person they will become. I love to help them learn about the world around them and how they fit into it. And nothing is cooler than seeing a student start the year only knowing some letters to becoming a reader by year’s end.”

Still, Molly’s living situation was a bit more challenging. Like so many others, she found herself in a crowded apartment in downtown Burlington.

“It was a downstairs apartment with three other roommates. I loved my roommates, but definitely am happy to be living on my own again.”

While she was thankful that she was able to afford her monthly rent payment, it was difficult to be paying every month without seeing any long term return. Now in her Shared Equity home, her monthly mortgage payment isn’t much more than what she was paying as a renter, and she’s building wealth.

Champlain Housing Trust’s Shared Equity Program provides down payment assistance to make homes affordable. Homeowners receive 25% of the home’s market appreciation when they sell and the rest is re-invested in the home for future home buyers, making the home permanently affordable – while also helping people access homeownership who otherwise couldn’t make the jump from renting.

“Shared Equity is a really good option for anyone who is paying rent. It is really a fantastic program. I felt super supported every step of the way.”

Molly is excited to now be building her own equity as a homeowner. She doesn’t see her Shared Equity home as her “forever home,” instead it is an opportunity to build a foundation for what comes next. It’s her generation’s version of a “starter home.”

“I definitely feel like I’ve unlocked another level of adulting.”