Budget Homes 

In the last quarter, median sales price of homes in Boise was $178,500. Since the economy is in a recession and people are trading their champagne tastes for beer budgets, we'll look at five budget-friendly properties priced below $200,000 this week.

In this economy, you're sure to run into a short sale, which means the seller owes more money to the bank than his house is worth. From a buyer's perspective, a short sale can be good and bad. Good, because the buyer may get a bargain. Bad, because it can take several months for the bank to approve the sale.

If you choose to buy a short sale property, be sure to use a real estate agent who has experience with short sales and understands the intricacies of working with a bank's loan mitigation department. Find a good agent by asking friends, family and co-workers for referrals. Then, ask the agent how many short sales he or she has negotiated. In this market, it's easy to find an agent who is hungry. Hold out for one who is competent.

The first house was built in 1975, and this simple three-bed/one-bath home sits on .22 acres in Southwest Boise. The sizable property provides plenty of space for the new owner to add a second bathroom and turn the 1,056-square-foot dwelling into a personalized paradise.

The back yard has RV access. The $99,900 property is located near South Five Mile and Lake Hazel roads on the southern edge of town, well away from the freeway and the bustle that comes with living closer to the city's center. 7922 S. Cross Fox Way, MLS #98380598.

If you're into small-space living, but want the privacy and elbow room of a spacious lot, here's a 925 square-footer in North Boise on .28 acres. With just two bedrooms and one bathroom, the 58-year-old house can be cleaned from top to bottom in a day. A large shade tree punctuates the front yard, while a sliding glass door at the back of the house leads to a wooden deck and a deep lot. It's priced at $125,000 and is located a few blocks south of State Street near 27th Street. 3005 Moore, MLS #98384190.

This house is just four years old and is located in Southwest Boise in the Charter Pointe subdivision, which has a community clubhouse. The 1,416-square-foot home has vaulted ceilings, plant shelves, tile flooring in the kitchen and an open floor plan. With an asking price of $134,900, this three bedroom/two bathroom residence would be good for a young family or a pair of empty-nesters. The .13 acre lot is large enough for kids, pets and backyard barbecues. 9536 W. Trestlewood Drive, MLS #98378563.

The unique facade of this 1,556-square-foot home appears church-like with its wide, extra-tall porch cover and brick support columns. Located within walking distance of the neighborhood park, the four bed/two bath dwelling is nestled in a quiet area that is a mile and a half from Hewlett-Packard and the West YMCA. The fully fenced back yard has a covered patio, and the $163,555 property bears mature landscaping. 5368 Skipper Avenue, MLS #98384497.

This 16-year-old farm-style house has a wide front porch stretching across the front of the house and a trio of gabled dormers above it that creates all-American appeal. The house is set far back on its .13 acre corner lot, and large trees and shrubs out front block the residence from street view. Inside the two-story, 2,032-square-foot home, there are three bedrooms and two bathrooms. This $184,900 dwelling is located in Northwest Boise one mile from the 26-mile-long Greenbelt that runs along the Boise River. 6372 W. Filly Street, MLS #98377592.

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