Buying a first home? NY wants to make it easier
by: Joseph Spector
ALBANY – Saving to purchase a first home in New York may get easier if Gov. Andrew Cuomo signs a bill into law passed by the state Legislature this week.
The “NY First Home” bill was approved by the Senate and Assembly and would allow prospective first-time homebuyers to save for their down payment and closing cost through a tax-free savings plan, similar to the state’s 529 College Savings Program.
The measure, which was backed by the state Association of Realtors, now goes to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s desk for final approval.
“NY First Home will make homeownership more easily attainable by helping New Yorkers bridge the gap between where their savings are and where they need to be to receive the keys to their first home,” said Dawn Carpenter, the association’s president.
“This program will encourage our young people plant their roots here, which will help our state stem the tide of population loss.”
The bill would let a first-time homebuyer make a $5,000 a year tax-deductible deposit into a NY First Home savings account; the limit would $10,000.00 for couples.
Any interest accrued would remain untaxed — so long as any withdrawal is used to purchase a first home in New York state that is a primary residence for at least two years.
The fund would be overseen by the state’s Comptroller’s Office, which also handles the 529 college plan.
The bill’s approval comes as New York’s housing market continues to sizzle and as Cuomo is offering another program to encourage homeownership, especially in upstate — which has suffered from population losses, particularly among young people.
Closed home sales in New York hit a record 10,704 in May, up nearly 5 percent from last year. Also, the statewide median sale price was $239,000, up 7 percent compared with last May, the association said.
Last month, Gov. Andrew Cuomo started a $5 million program to help recent college graduates become first-time homeowners.
But the governor’s program requires the graduates to move to one of eight upstate cities: Jamestown in western New York; Geneva in the Finger Lakes; Elmira in the Southern Tier; Oswego in central New York; Oneonta in the Mohawk Valley; Plattsburgh in the North Country; Glens Falls in the Capital Region; and Middletown in the Hudson Valley.
Cuomo’s Graduate to Homeownership program provides low-interest mortgages, down-payment assistance and a homebuyer education course to income-eligible residents.