Want to get started on your path to becoming a homeowner? Four tips that will help you navigate the home buying process.

 

With the holidays over, some people are gearing up to make their next purchase – a home. The homebuying season is in full swing. Below are four tips you can share to help consumers make the best homeownership first time homeownerchoice in 2017: strengthen their credit, shop wisely for a mortgage, choose the right house and negotiate the best price.

  1. Strengthen your credit score before looking for a mortgage. The majority of people don’t know their credit score until they begin to look for a home or a mortgage. Since finding the right house takes an average of one to three months, it could pay off to use the time to strengthen your credit score, especially if it means getting a lower mortgage rate. The benefit varies from lender to lender, but a strong credit score can cut as much as half a percent from your rate. A NeighborWorks® Rochester Housing Advisor can provide guidance on what to do to boost your credit score while shopping for a home.
  1. Shop around for the best mortgage. Not every lender offers the same mortgage rate, so shopping around is essential. Yet, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, nearly half of people who apply for a mortgage don’t shop around. The price of failing to do so can be quite significant after several years. As important as it is to obtain the best mortgage rate, it’s also crucial to be aware of fees charged by mortgage lenders. These fees go by various names—another reason to work closely with a NeighborWorks® Rochester Housing Advisor throughout the process.
  1. Choose your house carefully. With a mortgage-approval letter in hand, it’s time to find your home. A market with low housing supply requires a buyer to look for a “diamond in the rough”—a not-so-perfect house that could be rehabbed to make it suitable. That doesn’t you should settle for a house that doesn’t meet your basic needs. Keep your list of must-haves front and center, but make sure they are not really “nice-to-haves.”
  1. Negotiate, negotiate, negotiate. If real estate is location, location, location, then homebuying is negotiate, negotiate, negotiate. Unless you’re buying in the most heated and competitive markets, there is always room for negotiation. Here’s where selecting the right real estate agent pays off. Whether it’s the price of the house—probably the most important item to negotiate—the portion of closing costs to be paid or whether a warranty for major appliances is included, presenting the seller with a list of requests is important. Remember, the seller wants to sell and you want to buy. Home purchases that are mutually beneficial are made in the middle.

The path to your first home can be stressful and confusing. Following these tips and working with the team at NeighborWorks® Rochester will help you successfully find your “home sweet home.” Get started, and learn even more great tips, by attending one of our free monthly Homebuyer Orientations. Sign up on our website.

Building Upon the Past

till-fritzschingTill Fritzsching of Rochester, NY, found his new home on Craig’s List three years ago. Although the house was set for demolition by the City of Rochester, he saw the home and felt that it was a metaphor for his own life journey – as he puts it “the home had been through hell, and so had I.”
In 2013, Mr. Fritzsching had hit rock bottom. He was divorced, and no longer employed at the successful mid-west company he had once presided over. His home of the past few years had been a jail cell due to addiction. A physical injury had set him back as well and he ended up living in his mother’s home.
When he first saw the 1920’s era house on Northview Terrace, he knew it had potential, despite years of neglect and trees growing through the roof. The only tenants for years had been rodents. As the building was scheduled for demolition the very next day, the price was affordable. However, there was much work to be done to save it from the wrecking ball.
A neighbor referred him to NeighborWorks® Rochester, as the organization had assisted several other homeowners in the neighborhood. While he had put in a lot of his own sweat-equity, and had to learn to negotiate a labyrinth of homeowner-assistance programs, he still had a long way to go to rehab the home. NeighborWorks® Rochester was able to assist on several fronts.
NeighborWorks® Rochester was able to provide Mr. Fritzsching with resources for lead testing and encapsulation in the his home, garage, and basement, a new roof, gutters and eaves, exterior and interior paint, a new porch. “The house went from the worst on the block to one of the best,” Mr. Fritzsching stated. Also added to the home were new windows and a water heater.

In the past 5 years, NeighborWorks® Rochester has invested $4,784,000 in loans to help 279 homeowners purchase or rehab their home. Many of these loans also had a grant as part of the assistance, which allowed homeowners even more capacity to fix their house, without having to finance all of the expense. NeighborWorks® Rochester will work with customers who may be turned away by traditional lenders due to credit issues or not having enough equity in their home. The organization is a resource to homeowners who may face losing their home or living in disrepair or unhealthy or unsafe conditions.

“NeighborWorks® Rochester left a great taste in my mouth, and was my first choice once my credit was cleaned up. The contractors were great and I’m really satisfied,” Mr. Fritzsching added.
In a neighborhood hard-hit by the city’s decades of manufacturing job loss, his home now stands out as one of the nicest on the street.
Mr. Fritzsching added, “I’m not done yet. I just built myself a new back porch, and it really satisfies me to look at where this house was and where it is now. I consider not only the house but the project as a metaphor for my own life recovery in the sense that I made a commitment to restoring a once beautiful thing, much like my own life, to not necessarily what it was before but rather a recreation of a new vision of what it could be. I believe that the past should always be recognized and the foundation on what we can build, but we should never be limited by it for its own sake. That to me at least, gives me the freedom to not only build upon the past but create a new reality from it.”
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Our Neighbor’s Story

Mary Lovejoy, Rochester
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In 2003 Mary Lovejoy decided it was time to realize her dream of becoming a homeowner. She came to NeighborWorks® Rochester to learn about the home buying process and to help her make good decisions in choosing where she and her daughter would make a lifetime of happy memories. Armed with information, she found a home in Rochester’s historic 19th Ward community that met her needs. Housing stock in the city of Rochester is an average of 73 years old, and Mary’s neighborhood is one of the oldest in the city. Unfortunately, Mary’s was one of those beautiful older homes where lead paint was used on the interior and exterior of the home. Studies have shown that children who are exposed to lead poisoning face serious problems such as decreased IQ levels; higher likelihood of learning disabilities, behavioral problems and/or juvenile delinquency and higher high school dropout rates.

By having gone through the NeighborWorks® Rochester home ownership program, Mary was aware that help was available for home repair to assist her and her young daughter. As part of the NeighborWorks® Rochester’s loan program, lead testing identified the issues. In addition to remediating the lead issues in her home, NeighborWorks® Rochester replaced siding on the house and unattached garage, rebuilt the front porch, replaced windows and did electrical work. Energy work was also a big part of the work on Mary’s home. NeighborWorks® Rochester insulated the house and made repairs to her heating system, which improved safety and comfort and saved the family money in utility bills. “From the beginning, everyone was so friendly and helpful, especially in communicating what was going on to me” Mary commented. “I have recommended many people to them.”

NeighborWorks® Rochester and First Niagara Bank Celebrate Partnership during NeighborWorks® Week

Equity Builder Celebration
From Left: Migdalia Toro NeighborWorks® Rochester Homeownership Coordinator, Ted Colucci, NeighborWorks® Rochester Lending Program Manager, Maureen Murphy, NeighborWorks® Rochester Executive Director, homeowners Jaime Rivera and Danielle McDonald, Phil Swetz and Bridget Campbell, First Niagara Bank.

NeighborWorks® Rochester recently celebrated the success of its Equity Builder Loan program by recognizing the first recipient of the loan and our bank partner, First Niagara Bank. The loan helps new homeowners save money on their home by providing closing cost assistance, up to 105% Loan to Value of the home. Homeowners Jamie Rivera and Danielle McDonald, of Rochester, were on hand, along with Phil Swetz and Bridget Campbell of First Niagara to be part of the celebration.

The event was part of the local celebration of NeighborWorks® Week, a nationally-recognized celebration of neighborhood revitalization activities.

“First Niagara is a huge proponent of initiatives that increase self-sufficiency, stabilize housing and improve our neighborhoods,” said Phil Swetz, First Niagara Vice President of Mortgage Banking. “We’re proud to work with Neighborworks® to contribute to stronger, more diverse and thriving communities.”

The Equity Builder Loan helps future homeowners purchase a home with a down payment of more than 20%, avoiding a monthly Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) payment. Over the course of home ownership, this can result in substantial savings.

“We are so thrilled to be able to offer this loan product in conjunction with our bank partner,” said Maureen Murphy, Executive Director of NeighborWorks® Rochester. “It provides money for closing costs and long-term savings for the homeowner. And, as any homeowner can tell you, buying the home is just the beginning – you need to be able to maintain and sustain it throughout the years. We are pleased to be able to help those homeowners stay in it for the long run and make our community stronger as well.

During NeighborWorks® Week, NeighborWorks® Rochester and other NeighborWorks® organizations across the country will mobilize people for neighborhood change and awareness, rehab and repair homes, paint and landscape properties, conduct neighborhood tours, recognize successful partnerships and host a number of events that educate, train and inform.

NeighborWorks® Rochester is part of the national NeighborWorks® network, an affiliation of more than 245 nonprofit organizations located in every state, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. In 2014, the NeighborWorks® network helped­ 300,000 individuals and families with affordable housing and counseling. The NeighborWorks network was founded and is supported by NeighborWorks America, which creates opportunities for people to live in affordable homes, improve their lives and strengthen their communities.

Want to learn more about the Equity Builder or NeighborWorks® Rochester loans? Give us a call at 325-4170.

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Who you gonna call? Your full-service partner, that’s who!

Your Full-Service Partner..

Owning a home of your own can be as stressful as it is enjoyable. How can you make your family as safe and comfortable as possible, without spending all your hard-earned money? Does the roof need to be replaced, or just fixed? How can you be sure that the contractor can be trusted to finish on-time and on-budget? NeighborWorks® Rochester is here to help.

As a non-profit, one-stop shop for homebuyers and homeowners, our goal is to guide you through the buying process as well as all stages of homeownership, including home repairs. If your home is in need of fixing, NeighborWorks Rochester can work with you to offer unbiased solutions to your home issues. We can give you the confidence that comes with knowing you have someone in your corner. And we’ll be there with you for years to come, building great communities, one dream home at a time. Some Frequently Asked Questions about our Lending Program are:house construction

Q. Are there qualifying income limits to receive your services?

A. No.  There are no income minimums or maximums needed to access our services.  We work with all ranges of incomes.

Q. Do you only work with City residents?

A. No.  We serve all the residents of Monroe County. The only lending service that we offer that is specific to city residents is our construction management service. Our lending services are available to any resident within the Monroe County area  looking to do repairs on their home!
Q. Do you do home repairs?

A. NeighborWorks® Rochester offers financing for home repairs.  But we, ourselves, don’t do them. We help to get the customer an estimate of all the work and to solicit bids from qualified contractors, so that virtually, any type of home repair the customer needs/wants to get done, our contractors can do!

Do you have a question that you don’t see here? Ask in the comments or give us a call at 585.325.4170 and one of our experts will answer any other questions you may have.