By collaborating resources and solution-driven ideas, Bank of America and NeighborWorks® Rochester are making it easier for low-income families to gain financial stability. A recent grant of $10,000 from Bank of America will support financial coaching and homeownership education for Rochester area residents provided by the non-profit organization.
These funds will help provide tools and resources that allow potential homebuyers to become mortgage-ready through NeighborWorks Rochester’s homeownership education and coaching. Participants are provided with financial coaching, education in mortgage products, and guidance on available financial assistance and first-time homebuyer grants. As a member of the NeighborWorks America network, the organization’s approach is a key component of strengthening Rochester area neighborhoods.
“We provide tools for individuals who may be seeking to increase their economic mobility through homeownership to prepare themselves for success.” stated Joanne Panarisi-Bottone, NeighborWorks® Rochester’s Executive Director. “We are pleased to be able to partner with Bank of America to advance opportunities for those in our community who may not otherwise have this type of support.”
A decade after the housing market collapsed, a new survey reveals that many people are unaware of resources and counseling that can improve their prospects of owning their own home. Housing counseling offered by NeighborWorks Rochester helps close to 150 residents annually achieve their goal of buying a home, and could do so for many others who have the same dream.
Joanne Panarisi-Bottone, Executive Director of NeighborWorks Rochester states, “Our goal is to ensure that first-time homebuyers make informed decisions based on their personal finances, goals and dreams. Our coach approach supports sustainable homeownership for both the individuals and the community by working with individuals to create a clear path, remove obstacles, and avoid the many pitfalls that a first-time buyer may encounter, such as predatory lending.” Neighborworks Rochester is an affiliate of NeighborWorks Community Partners, a member of the NeighborWorks America national network.
The sixth annual NeighborWorks America at Home survey found that people with the most debt –millennials and women—are less likely to be homeowners, and large numbers would like to be, but don’t know where to turn for help in achieving their dream.
Among the findings:
Women: 29 percent of women have student loan debt, compared to 23 percent of men. Fifty percent of women worry about this type of debt all or most of the time.
People of color: 48 percent of people of color are burdened with student loan debt, compared to 22 percent of white women and 15 percent of white men.
Millennials: 56 percent of millennials worry about student loan debt some or most of the time.
Overall awareness of help available: 46 percent of all adults are unfamiliar with nonprofits that offer debt counseling for free or at a low cost.
“It’s important for people to have the proper tools and resources so they are informed consumers from the moment they consider owning a home,” says Karen Hoskins, acting vice president of homeownership programs and lending at NeighborWorks America. “A housing counselor can guide them through what often seems a daunting, confusing process. Consumers also will benefit by thinking about housing counselors as helpful sources of information about services such as down-payment assistance.”
For more information about NeighborWorks Rochester’s homebuyer resources, visit our Homeownership Page. For more information about the America at Home survey, click on this link.
Rochester area residents wanting to fulfill the American Dream of homeownership will be supported by a recent grant from Citizens Bank to NeighborWorks Rochester. The $5,000 grant will help provide tools and resources that allow homebuyers to become mortgage-ready through NeighborWorks Rochester’s homeownership education and counseling. Participants are provided with financial coaching, education in mortgage products, and guidance on available financial assistance and first-time homebuyer grants.
“Our goal is to prepare future homeowners for success – a key component of strengthening the Rochester area’s neighborhoods.” stated Joanne Panarisi-Bottone, NeighborWorks® Rochester’s Executive Director. “We provide the tools homebuyers need to prepare themselves and, as a member of the NeighborWorks America network, our approach is proven.”
NeighborWorks® Rochester is a HUD Housing Counseling Agency serving Rochester and the surrounding area. The non-profit organization also creates sustainable communities by providing lead paint inspections, home improvement loans and energy services programs that improve energy efficiency, real estate values and resident wellness.
NeighborWorks® Rochester is an affiliate of NeighborWorks® America, and a member of NeighborWorks Community Partners – a consolidation with NeighborWorks organizations in Buffalo and Niagara, formed to increase the number of prospective homebuyers that can be served throughout the Greater Rochester Area, and throughout Western NY.
$1.2 million award will fund homebuyer assistance in Monroe and Erie Counties
Updated: 6/12/2018 – All funds have been deployed in all participating counties.
Project Reinvest: Homeownership will make $1.2 million available to homebuyers in Monroe, Erie and Niagara Counties, 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 Monroe, Erie or Niagara 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 no-interest deferred loan. Homebuyers may qualify if they make at or below 100% of the Area Median Income for their county and if they are purchasing in Monroe, Erie or Niagara County.
Interested homebuyers should contact the lender of their choice for more information or to start an application. Monroe County partners are Citizens Bank, Canandaigua National Bank, M&T Bank, Five Star Bank, Fairport Savings Bank and Northwest Bank. Erie and Niagara County partners are Evans Bank, Fairport Savings Bank, Five Star Bank, M&T Bank, Citizens 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.
A unique feature of NeighborWorks® Rochester’s Healthy Blocks Initiative is its approach to neighborhood stabilization by the use of data to develop new projects. This data-driven trajectory resulted in the Triangle Half-Bath Program, a pilot project funded by the Community Design Center of Rochester’s Development and Design Fund Grant and NeighborWorks® America’s Pride in Place Grant. The Half-Bath Program provided ten Triangle neighborhood homeowners with free architectural renderings (provided by the local firm Architectura, PC) and cost estimates to plan a half-bath addition to their one-bathroom home.
The Half-Bath Program was driven by results from a comprehensive market study conducted in the Triangle in 2015. The study revealed that 74% of the Triangle’s single-family housing stock was built before 1940. Because of this, the majority of these homes are three bedroom, one-bathroom houses with the bath located on the second floor. The study also documented that over a ten-year period, 64% of the single-family homes that sold for less than $65,000 were purchased by investors. At the same time, properties with one and a half bathrooms sold for, on average, $10,000 more than homes with only one bathroom, making them less attractive to investorsThe addition of a half-bath to a one-bathroom property has the potential for several positive outcomes. First, a second bathroom on the first floor can make the home more practical and comfortable for growing families, guests, and/or elderly residents or relatives who have more trouble climbing stairs—all of which can lead to a family remaining longer in the home. Second, the value added by the second bath raises the purchase price of the home above investor interest, so that if the family does decide to move, their home is more likely to be purchased by an owner-occupant. Both of these factors contribute to the neighborhood’s long-term stability.
With the total cost of the project often falling below the $10,000 mark, adding a half-bath (or in some cases, another full bath) is a good investment for many homeowners. However, there are barriers to beginning the project, such as finding an architect, paying for initial estimates, and a general lack of knowledge and experience about the project’s costs and process. The Half-Bath Program removed those barriers for its ten pilot participants, some of whom are already planning to have the project completed with the help of resources from NeighborWorks® Rochester and from our partner, Canandaigua National Bank, both of whom are offering special funding exclusively for the Triangle in support of the project. NeighborWorks Rochester is excited about the possibility that this pilot can be replicated in other neighborhoods, making homes more suitable and desirable for families and providing stability in city neighborhoods.
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 choice in 2017: strengthen their credit, shop wisely for a mortgage, choose the right house and negotiate the best price.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
Mary Lovejoy, Rochester
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.”
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.
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.