“Project Reinvest: Homeownership” will make the American Dream more affordable in Western New York

$1.2 million award will fund homebuyer assistance in Monroe and Erie Counties

first time homeownerProject Reinvest: Homeownership will make $1.2 million available to homebuyers in Monroe and Erie County, providing down payment assistance for the purchase of first homes. The funds were awarded to NeighborWorks Rochester, a Community Development Financial Institution, to be executed in partnership with West Side Neighborhood Housing Services in Buffalo, NY.

Eligible homebuyers can receive $10,500 in down payment assistance for the purchase of their first homes in target areas of Monroe or Erie County.

“We are excited to be able to offer this down payment assistance in partnership with West Side Neighborhood Housing Services,” said Joanne Panarisi-Bottone, Executive Director of NeighborWorks Rochester.  “The cities of Buffalo and Rochester face challenges of low average incomes and weaker housing markets, and these funds will help homebuyers to achieve more equity in their home purchase.”

“For people whose American dream of owning their own home might have been just out of reach, Project Reinvest Homeownership will give them the opportunity to build wealth and a brighter future,” said Ed Jackson, Executive Director of West Side NHS.

Project Reinvest: Homeownership is a 0% interest deferred grant. Homebuyers may qualify if they make at or below 100% of the Area Median Income for their county and if they are purchasing in a CDFI investment area.

Interested homebuyers should contact the lender of their choice for more information or to start an application. Monroe County partners are Canandaigua National Bank, Five Star Bank, and Northwest Bank. Erie County partners are Evans Bank, Five Star Bank, and Northwest Bank.

NeighborWorks® Rochester and West Side Neighborhood Housing Services are each affiliates of NeighborWorks Community Partners, a newly-formed affordable housing group building strong neighborhoods in Western New York by providing education and counseling services to new homeowners. Interested home buyers can choose from the following list of bank partners for more information and to start the application process.

Contacts for Homebuyers

Monroe County

Erie County

Jonathan Graves, 716-308-9817, jgraves@five-starbank.com

    • Northwest Bank

Trina Burrus, 716-730-4240, trina.burruss@northwest.com

What and where, is Healthy Blocks?

Swillburg Neighborhood Branded Street Signs

Focusing on strengthening assets, Healthy Blocks works to improve resident confidence. This leads to their greater economic and social re-investment to improve the neighborhood’s image, encouraging homebuyer interest and supporting long-term residency. NeighborWorks® Rochester’s other lines of business also contribute to the success of Health Blocks; for example, home improvement loans are offered to all Healthy Blocks neighborhoods, past and present, for a further reduced rate and with a waived application fee. Healthy Blocks measures its impact through tracking house sale data (including asking and sales prices and days on market) and taking resident confidence and property conditions surveys in years one, three, and five. Our “legacy neighborhoods” and the projects organized by Healthy Blocks are:

Swillburg Neighborhood (2005-2010)

  • Implemented a “unifier” project to visually connect the area – decorative house plaques with the Swillburg logo, still in use today
  • Organized a ‘group purchase’ of driveway replacements for homeowners and landlords, which came at a discount from the contractor
  • Helped residents plan and build a gazebo in Otto Henderberg Park, used for concerts and social events
  • Installed branded gateway signage around the entrances to the neighborhood, giving Swillburg a distinct “district” feel
  • Saw the average house price increase from $48,000 to its more historic value of $82,000 by the end of the Healthy Blocks term
  • Membership in the Swillburg Neighborhood Association increase by more than 40% and resident participation in social activities increase by 20%
  • Realtor’s Association uses the name “Swillburg” when selling property in the area

Brooks Landing Neighborhood (2007-2013)

  • Helped organize annual community skate parties at the Genesee Valley Park skating rink
  • Held a barbecue and music event at the University of Rochester footbridge for students and community members
  • Implemented 10 Makeover Madness matching grants for residents for exterior home improvements
  • Held an pop-up art gallery on Genesee St. for First Friday featuring neighborhood artists
  • Planted over 200 perennial plants in the spring of 2012, and over 300 daffodil and tulip bulbs in the fall

 The Pocket Neighborhood LogoThe Pocket Neighborhood (2008-2013)

    • Launched an identity/marketing campaign using the residents’ choice of name, “The Pocket”, including logo creation and street banners along Atlantic Ave.
    • Organized the installation of colorful, artistic crosswalks along Atlantic and E. Main designed by a local artist and painted by residents
    • Helped to create a community garden on a vacant lot on Heinrich St. and organized its further expansion later by adding six new raised beds, constructing three new public sitting benches, and planting over 400 daffodil bulbs
    • Installed over 200 matching house plaques, over 75% of the neighborhood
    • The average sale price per square foot of homes increase over 20% between 2008 and 2012 

The Triangle Neighborhood (2014-present)

  • Launched the initiative in 2014 with a “Taste of the Triangle” party drawing over 150 participants and engaging residents, local businesses, and community partners
  • Installed four artistic bike racks at the Culver-Merchants Point created by local metal fabricators
  • Completed a branding campaign including the neighborhood’s name, logo, brand statement, and website that has begun to be used widely around Rochester
  • Designed, printed, and began distributing Welcome Wagon packets and gifts to new neighbors in the Triangle
  • Held multiple social events including three pub crawls featuring Triangle Merchants Association member businesses and a pop-up First Friday gallery in a vacant commercial space with partners from Gallery Q and Image Out
  • Helped to form and engage a Triangle planning group that meets monthly
  • Between 2014-2016, average home sale prices, resident confidence, feelings of safety, and ‘house proud’ levels all improved significantly
  • Other community projects, including gateway signage, a mural, and micropark at the Cobblestone house are underway

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.

Celebrate City Living!

Celebrate City Living
Celebrate City Living
The City of Rochester and the Rochester Coalition for Neighborhood Living, which NeighborWorks® Rochester is a part of, have launched Celebrate City Living, a new program to help homebuyers and renters learn about the benefits of living in the city and find the resources to make it easier to buy or rent a home in Rochester.
“Rochester’s neighborhoods are a great place to grow and Celebrate City Living is our way of making sure everyone knows why,” said City of Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren. “I want to thank the Rochester Coalition for Neighborhood Living and all of our sponsors for helping us create an exciting new opportunity to celebrate city living and invite more people to choose Rochester as their home. People who know why Rochester is a wonderful place to live can become active partners in our mission to create more jobs, safer, more vibrant neighborhoods and provide all of our children with a quality education.”
“The Rochester Coalition for Neighborhood Living is extremely proud to partner with the City of Rochester to promote city living by helping potential homebuyers and renters fully appreciate and enjoy the amenities of living in Rochester,” said Coalition Chairs Beverly Fair-Brooks, Vice President, Regional Community Reinvestment Officer of M&T Bank; and Ted Wood, Realtor, Construction Manager and Real Estate Broker at the Ibero American Development Corp. “Celebrate City Living is a fun and exciting way to increase investment and build a stronger sense of community in all of Rochester’s neighborhoods.”
Celebrate City Living is a year-round program designed to encourage city residency for consumers at every stage of the housing search, including renters, first-time homebuyers, experienced owners, those who require financial assistance and those seeking high-end, luxury spaces.
The program places a special emphasis on the distinctive settings and wide variety of housing choices in each of Rochester’s neighborhoods. The goal is to help consumers understand that Rochester is a city of neighborhoods and they can quickly focus their search for an ideal home by learning about the characteristics of each neighborhood.
The event website and an annual event will help consumers search city neighborhoods for a house or apartment and connect them to available resources, including Realtors, lenders and non-profit agencies that specialize in city housing. NeighborWorks Rochester will be there to assist all first time home buyers learn more about our programs and resources.
The website features a custom search engine that filters available housing choices by neighborhood along with profiles of the neighborhoods. The site is interactive and will include a social media center and enable neighborhood residents and merchants to submit neighborhood events to a community calendar.
The inaugural Five Star Bank Celebrate City Living Housing Expo will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday, April 16 in City Hall, 30 Church St. The Housing Expo will serve as a resource fair, where home hunters can meet representatives of each neighborhood along with Realtors, lenders and non-profit agencies who specialize in serving city customers.
Exhibitors will also include home décor stores, food vendors, entertainment venues and health and recreation facilities.
On Sunday, April 17 many open houses will be held at available city properties. In addition, the Landmark Society of Western New York will host three bus tours of city neighborhoods on April 9, 15 and 16. All tours start at 1 p.m. and depart from City Hall. Visit www.celebratecityliving.com to register for a tour.
Along with the annual Housing Expo, CCL will also partner with neighborhood representatives along with Canandaigua National Bank to host a series of Celebrate City Living neighborhood celebrations throughout the year, where neighborhood leaders and merchants can highlight the distinct benefits of their neighborhood in a festive setting.
The Rochester Coalition for Neighborhood Living members are: The City of Rochester, M&T Bank, NeighborWorks® Rochester, Ibero-American Development Corp, The Housing Council at PathStone, Citizens Bank, The Landmark Society of Western New York, Greater Rochester Association of Realtors, Game Plan Marketing, ROC City Realty, New2U Homes, Hart’s Local Grocers and Magellan Realty. This year’s title sponsor for the Home Expo is Five Star Bank.