Two major lending changes mean it’s suddenly easier to get a mortgage –

Two major lending changes mean it’s suddenly easier to get a mortgage

by: Diana Olick

  • The nation’s three major credit rating agencies, EquifaxTransUnion and Experian, will drop tax liens and civil judgments from some consumers’ profiles if the information isn’t complete.
  • Mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are allowing borrowers to have higher levels of debt and still qualify for a home loan.
  • These changes come at a time when lenders are competing for a shrinking market of borrowers.

Two major changes in the mortgage market go into effect this month, and both could help millions more borrowers qualify for a home loan. The changes will also add more risk to the mortgage market.

First, the nation’s three major credit rating agencies, EquifaxTransUnion and Experian, will drop tax liens and civil judgments from some consumers’ profiles if the information isn’t complete. Specifically, the data must include the person’s name, address, and either date of birth or Social Security number. A sizeable number of liens and judgments do not include this information and have subsequently caused some misrepresentations and mistakes.

Of about 220 million Americans with a credit profile, approximately 7 percent have liens or civil judgments against them. With these hits to their credit removed, their scores could go up by as much as 20 points, according to a study by credit rating firm Fair Isaac Corp. (FICO).

“It’s a significant impact for still a very large number of people,” said Thomas Brown, senior vice president of financial services at LexisNexis, who is concerned that the move will add significant risk to the mortgage system.

“If you look at someone that has a tax lien or a civil judgment, they can be anywhere from two to more than five times more risky just because of the presence of that information,” he said. “That’s very, very significant.”

Credit reports, however, can have mistakes on them that end up sidelining consumers from qualifying for loans. Twenty percent of consumers have at least one mistake on one of their three credit reports, according to a Federal Trade Commission study. The concern is that those who do have legitimate liens and judgments against them will get credit that is undeserved.

“It doesn’t really do a consumer well to be extended credit that they can’t afford, they can’t reasonably service,” said Brown.

In addition to the FICO changes, mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are allowing borrowers to have higher levels of debt and still qualify for a home loan. The two are raising their debt-to-income ratio limit to 50 percent of pretax income from 45 percent. That is designed to help those with high levels of student debt. That means consumers could be saddled with even more debt, heightening the risk of default, but the argument for it appears to be that risk in the market now is unnecessarily low.

“In this case, we’re changing the underwriting criteria, and we think the additional increment of risk for making that change is very small,” said Doug Duncan, Fannie Mae’s chief economist. “Given how pristine credit has been post-crisis, we don’t feel that is an unreasonable risk to take.”

During the last housing boom, anyone with a pulse could get a mortgage, but after the financial crisis, underwriting rules tightened significantly. As a result, current default rates on loans made in the last eight years are lower than historical norms. At the same time, younger borrowers with high levels of student loan debt are being left out of the housing recovery, unable to qualify for a home loan. Duncan said a consumer’s debt level is just one of many factors considered by lenders when underwriting a mortgage.

“We look at all the other criteria that are information rich, in terms of assessing that individual’s risk profile, and they have to look good in all those other areas,” he added.

The level of risk to the mortgage marketplace, banks and nonbank lenders alike, will rise. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are still under government conservatorship, which means losses would be incurred by taxpayers.

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RAINING MONEY: Some NY communities could fund budgets with casino fees –

RAINING MONEY: Some NY communities could fund budgets with casino fees

by: Amanda Renko

Windfalls of cash don’t come to the Town of Nichols very often.

The 2,700-resident, largely agricultural Tioga County community has operated on a shoestring budget of about $1.5 million for years.

So when it received a $1 million payment in 2016 from the license fee Tioga Downs paid to the state to become a full-fledged casino in December, Town Supervisor Kevin Engelbert thought of a few things that needed attention.

A new tandem-axle truck and wheeled excavator replaced 25-year-old highway equipment. The Cady Library, a landmark dating back to the 1820s, was slated for safety and energy efficiency upgrades. Long-neglected roads will be widened and given a fresh surface. And, Engelbert says, residents will get some tax relief, too.

So far this year — through the end of May — casino taxes for Nichols totaled nearly $600,000. On an annual basis, particularly with warmer weather luring out gamblers, the fees from Tioga Downs could equal the full town budget.

In northern Seneca County, the Town of Tyre recently began reaping the monetary rewards of the new del Lago Resort and Casino, which opened in February. So far, Tyre has generated monthly revenues ranging from $175,000 to more than $211,000.

And the new-found deluge of money doesn’t stop with the host communities. Counties that include Broome and Chemung are getting casino money.

Despite the influx of cash, many local leaders say they’ll use their quarterly checks to fill gaps in their budgets, instead of going all in with one-time expenses.

The money locals get comes from a tax the state imposes on the gross gaming revenues of the three non-Indian casinos to open so far — Tioga Downs, del Lago, and Rivers Casino and Resort in Schenectady.

New York imposes a tax of 37 percent on casinos’ gross gaming revenues — the difference between players’ bets and wins, minus any promotional credits given out — for slots and electronic table games, and 10 percent on revenues from table games.

New York retains 80 percent of the Tioga funds for statewide education and property tax relief. In April, that figure came to $1.55 million, leaving nearly $400,000 for distribution to the host town and county and surrounding counties.

April’s payouts netted $97,213 for the Town of Nichols and Tioga County, $104,347 for Broome County, $52,831 for Tompkins County, $21,639 for Chemung County, $10,412 for Wayne County and $5,196 for Schuyler County.

The surrounding counties receive even more money from del Lago, which in April had $13.15 million in total gross gaming revenues — more than twice that of Tioga Downs.

The payouts add up for communities facing declining revenues in recent years from sales tax drops, tax base stagnation and a state-imposed property tax cap.

 Having the $460 million del Lago instantly boosted Seneca County’s total assessed value by about 20 percent.

To County Manager John Sheppard, that boost — and the ongoing revenues the county stands to receive from gaming taxes — represents the only path to staying under its tax cap. Without it, there’s “no way we’d be compliant with the tax cap expectation,” he said.

The revenues generated by building del Lago in the 35,000-person county — and the economic development implications beyond the facility’s February opening — could provide a boost to a struggling rural area, Sheppard said.

Through May 30, the county had received $764,766 in ongoing gaming funds. Seneca’s 2017 general fund budget included $1.5 million in anticipated revenues that are planned to fund general operations. Sheppard says he’ll likely recommend budgeting the money for operations again in 2018, with little choice if he wants to stay under the tax cap.

“With (gaming revenues), that doesn’t eliminate all the other complications of governance,” Sheppard said. “We’re still watching every dollar.”

The New York Comptroller’s Office doesn’t have specific recommendations on how municipalities should spend their casino revenues, and they aren’t subject to special oversight, said spokesman Brian Butry.

However, becoming too reliant on non-recurring revenues could open a municipality to scrutiny, Butry said.

A 2013 comptroller’s office audit of the City of Niagara Falls highlights how funding general operations with casino revenues could backfire.

In 2009, a dispute between the Seneca Nation and the state resulted in the suspension of payments of a portion of gaming revenues to the state and city.

Niagara Falls officials expected the dispute to be settled quickly and began to use its fund balance to finance expenses previously covered by casino funds. Even as the dispute dragged on, the city continued budgeting for those revenues, leading to a fund balance deficit of about $5.2 million by the end of 2012, according to the report.

Lowering residents’ overall property tax burden is a more responsible use for the funds than new spending, said Ken Girardin of the Albany-based Empire Center for Public Policy.

“Every local government’s situation is different, but they all need to resist the urge to add new unrelated spending. For one thing, there’s no certainty about how much casino revenue can be counted even one year out,” Girardin said.

Many municipalities “have old road and water infrastructure that could present sudden costs down the line, so it makes more sense to place money in reserves than to spend it on amenities,” he added.

Schuyler, Wayne, Broome and Chemung counties are among those who’ve budgeted casino revenues for their general funds.

Broome County used an unbudgeted license fee payment of $3.7 million to cover budget shortfalls in 2016, said County Executive Jason Garnar. This year, the county’s budget includes $2.2 million in gaming revenues. Through May 30, the county had received $1.43 million.

Tioga County legislators will soon discuss where the $571,208 it’s received so far will go, said Martha Sauerbrey, chair of the county legislature. A $1 million license fee payment replenished a capital reserve account, and it’s possible the continued revenues would end up there, too.

 Chemung County will also offset increased expenses with the $1.32 million it budgeted in anticipated gaming revenues. However, $250,000 of that comes from the Seneca Nation, which stated earlier this year it will no longer make payments previously required in an agreement with the state.

“We might not get the $250,000. Right now, it doesn’t look good.” said Budget Director Steve Hoover. “If those funds don’t come in, we’re going to have a hole in our budget.”

So far, the county is slated to receive $297,384 from Tioga Downs and del Lago through May 30.

About 53 percent of residents, including much of the City of Elmira, falls west of Route 14, the dividing line between the Salamanca payments and the Tioga Downs and del Lago revenues.

“That hurts us because we have more than half our population included in a calculation with a more remote casino,” Hoover said. “It would have been a lot more beneficial to us if our entire population had been included.”

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Honolulu lawmaker proposes bill to have armed park rangers to deter homeless

Honolulu lawmaker proposes bill to have armed park rangers to deter homeless

A state lawmaker is proposing stationing armed park rangers at Honolulu city parks, where homeless encampments are common, because of a growing amount of trash and safety concerns.

Residents have taken issue with piles of trash and smell they claim come from homeless encampments, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Sunday.

Honolulu city Councilman Trevor Ozawa wants residents to vote on a 2018 City Charter amendment to place armed park rangers in the city’s biggest parks. The rangers would be able to address illegal camping, littering and vandalism and enforce no-smoking policies should the bill come to pass.

“We continue to see enforcement issues, continue to have issues with our homeless population in our parks, and need to make our children’s safety a priority,” Ozawa said. “We need to continue exploring ways of keeping our park users safe and our facilities free of vandalism and destruction.”

The city already has an unarmed park ranger program in place at Kapiolani Park, Hanauma Bay and the city’s most-used park, the Ala Moana Regional Park, said Mayor Kirk Caldwell. City park employees also have a new shift that runs from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Jen Tema, who lives in the Waikiki neighborhood of Honolulu, said she avoids passing through lookouts at Diamond Head Monument because of the overwhelming stench coming from the area.

Her son no longer surfs at the lookouts because of feces left in the water by homeless campers and her kids need to wear shoes instead of slippers over fears of discarded drug needles and used condoms on floors at parks, Tema said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Cuomo touts Lake Ontario flood relief package – Democrat & Chronicle

Cuomo touts Lake Ontario flood relief package

by: Meaghan M. McDermott and Steve Orr

With Lake Ontario as his backdrop yet again, Gov. Andrew Cuomo came to the local shoreline Thursday afternoon to tout a $55 million aid package that includes relief for homeowners, businesses and municipalities affected by the extraordinary flooding this year.

The governor spoke for about a half-hour before several hundred residents and supporters at Westage at the Harbor, a lakefront condominium complex in Irondequoit. He used the opportunity to praise state legislators for approving a negotiated bill that includes $45 million for shoreline interests.

“You have businesses that have been devastated by this. You have homeowners who have been wiped out,” he said. “We can’t solve the problems Mother Nature created, but we can make it better and we can make sure it’s not economically devastating.”

The legislation, which Cuomo signed ceremonially on the shoreline Thursday, also includes $10 million to reimburse local governments, including those in Monroe County, for expenses related to the fierce March windstorm.

More: High winds, high water, lots of hot air: Facts and fiction about Lake Ontario’s Plan 2014

More: Lake Ontario flooding: Your Plan 2014 questions answered

Behind Cuomo as he spoke Thursday was a 250-foot-long temporary breakwall that the state provided last week to protect the apartment complex from further flood damage. The state has purchased 8,000 feet of the long fabric bladders, which are filled with water, and deployed about 2,000 feet so far.

In his remarks Thursday, the governor said he would be sending a letter shortly to federal officials informing them he intended to seek a White House disaster declaration and accompanying federal assistance.

“I believe the federal government owes the state of New York reimbursement for the cost of this relief program,” Cuomo said.

In order to seek a disaster declaration, municipalities must document spending at least $27.7 million responding to the shoreline flooding. If the president declares the shoreline a disaster area, Washington would reimburse the municipal expenses and federal emergency officials would assess whether the flooding was severe enough to merit aid to individuals and businesses.

Cuomo said he believes the state will surpass the $27.7 million threshold, though emergency officials have said it is a reach to think that the shoreline flooding would qualify for individual aid.

Cuomo also said Thursday he would ask President Trump to appoint “qualified” new representatives to the International Joint Commission, the U.S.-Canada treaty organization that oversees the regulation of Lake Ontario water levels.

The governor and others have been critical of the IJC’s response to the high water this spring and summer. IJC officials have said they’ve taken every reasonable step possible to lower the lake and minimize flooding.

Cuomo came to Edgemere Drive in Greece on Memorial Day to announce his own aid program for shoreline interests, and he visited Edgemere Drive again in June to tout the program and the state’s acquisition of the temporary breakwalls.

The final state aid package, approved by state lawmakers in late June in the waning hours of the session, was a compromise deal.

It improved upon the aid levels the governor had implemented but scaled back lawmakers’original plan for $90 million in aid. Cuomo had questioned whether the state had the money to fund the original bill.

Assembly Majority Leader Joseph Morelle, D-Irondequoit, and state Sen. Pam Helming, R-Canandaguia, brokered the deal. Cuomo praised both of them Thursday, and said the work of Helming, a first-term senator, had been “extraordinary.”

 Here are key highlights of the legislation, which offers $15 million each for homeowners, businesses and municipalities as well as an additional $10 million for other storm recovery efforts:
  • Cover damage caused by flooding that happened between Jan. 1 and June 30.
  • Provide homeowners with grants of no more than $50,000 for fixes that aren’t covered by insurance. There is no income cap for primary homes. For non-primary homes, there is a household income cap of $275,000.
  • Provide small businesses, farms, homeowners associations, not-for-profits and owners of rental units with grants of up to $50,000 for repairs, although grants are capped at $20,000 for owners of multiple dwellings.
  • Allow local governments to reduce property assessments of homes damaged by flooding, and let homeowners take state income tax deductions if they have to pay for repairs by tapping their retirement accounts.
  • Provide $15 million for local governments.

The program will be administered through not-for-profit housing organizations. In Monroe County, that organization is the Bishop Sheen Ecumenical Housing Foundation.

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$1 million in federal funds will combat lead hazards in Rochester homes – Democrat & Chronicle

$1 million in federal funds will combat lead hazards in Rochester homes

by: Victoria E. Freile

Rochester will receive $1 million in federal funding to remove lead hazards from homes of low-income families in the city.

New York Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand on Tuesday announced the Lead Hazard Reduction Demonstration funding for the City of Rochester. The grant is allocated through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and will address lead hazards in housing units, to provide safer homes for low-income families with children, according to a news release from Schumer (D-NY.)

“Lead poisoning is an irreversible, preventable tragedy that robs many families and children of their future,” Schumer said in a news release. “We must do everything we can to eliminate lead from our homes and this major federal grant will do just that, by injecting much-needed funds into lead remediation and prevention.”

The funds will help support Monroe County’s efforts in identifying households with significant lead hazards and help expand their ability to remove lead-based paint and other health hazards, said Gillibrand (D-NY.)

Lead poisoning can cause severe health problems, including developmental disabilities and neurological damage. According to the National Institutes for Health, lead is more harmful to children than adults because it can affect children’s developing nerves and brains. Lead-based paint is still on the walls of many homes often erodes and settles into children’s toys, eventually falling into the mouths and hands of children.

Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren said the $1 million grant “will fortify our efforts to provide safer and more vibrant neighborhoods.”

The LHRD program identifies and controls lead-based paint hazards in privately owned housing for rental or owner-occupants. The grants are to assist municipalities in mitigating lead hazards.

In 2016, Schumer and Gillibrand announced $46.5 million in HUD funds for 15 projects across New York to mitigate health hazards in more than 3,100 low-income homes.

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Friedrich Donates Air Conditioning Units to Help Provide Relief for Homeless Families in Rochester –

Friedrich Donates Air Conditioning Units to Help Provide Relief for Homeless Families in Rochester

San Antonio, TX (June 12, 2017) – Homeless families in Rochester, N.Y., will get additional relief this season, thanks to a generous donation from Friedrich Air Conditioning Company.

Friedrich has partnered with its local Rochester distributor, Johnstone Supply, to provide Friedrich Chill room air conditioning units for 11 homes owned and managed by Tempro, a Rochester-based nonprofit organization that builds housing for homeless families. Tempro homes are leased by Monroe County and the county’s Department of Social Services places families in need in the homes. Tempro provides the furnished homes with the aid of a social worker to help these families through the transition of homelessness to more permanent housing.

Tempro provides temporary housing assistance to approximately 140 homeless families and without support from Friedrich, the organization would not have been able to afford to cool the homes and ensure the comfort of those it serves during the hot weather season. “For homeless families working to get back on their feet, finding safe, temporary housing is challenging and stressful enough without also enduring the hot weather season with no relief,” said Tempro President Jerry Zakalik. “That’s why we are so grateful for this very generous donation and service to our community.”

Already, contractors have installed one of the Friedrich Chill units in the first Tempro home, and the remaining 10 will be installed in the other residences in the coming weeks. In addition to the value of providing all the product, delivery and support at no cost, Friedrich’s Chill units also are ENERGY STAR-qualified, which will help save money on energy and long-term operational costs. Other benefits of the Friedrich Chill line include powerful and quiet operation and environmentally sustainable features, such as R32 refrigerant with low Global Warming Potential.

As a father from one of the families living in a home where a new Chill unit was recently installed said, “It means so much to us to have a place to stay while we go through this challenge. To know someone really cares and is even installing air conditioners is just awesome.”

As a leading U.S.-based manufacturer of air conditioners and other home environment products, Friedrich has a strong track record of giving back to local communities and causes, and the donation to Tempro marks the second major donation the company has made this season. In April, Friedrich donated and installed a ductless split air conditioning system in an orphanage near Piedra Negras, Coahuila, Mexico, where without cooling, indoor temperatures can spike up to a sweltering 120 degrees.

“We’re proud to serve the community in this way and know that our products are providing great relief for those in need,” said Wink Chapman, vice president of sales and marketing for Friedrich. “It’s also fantastic to be able work with strong partners, like our Johnstone Supply distributor in the Rochester area, who share our commitment to support local communities.”

About Friedrich

Founded in 1883, Friedrich has manufactured room air conditioners since 1952. Friedrich is a leading manufacturer of air conditioners and other home environment products. Constructed of the highest quality components, Friedrich products are built to exacting standards and are among the quietest, most highly featured and most energy-efficient available. For more information, please visit

About Johnstone Supply

Johnstone Supply is a nationwide, member-owned buying cooperative for HVACR (heating, ventilation, air conditioning, refrigeration) equipment and supplies. Johnstone distributes parts and equipment to HVACR contractors and to facilities maintenance staffs. Each member store is independently owned and operated.

About Tempro

Tempro Development Company is a 501c3 organization formed in 1971 by Temple B’rith Kodesh with the mission to build housing for homeless people in Monroe County, N.Y. Operated by a local United Way agency, “The Housing Council,” Tempro has built and owns 11 furnished homes that are leased to local homeless families, providing them with temporary residence.

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New York unveils $20 billion plan to fight homelessness, boost affordable housing –

New York unveils $20 billion plan to fight homelessness, boost affordable housing

First phase includes $2.5 billion for new construction, development

by: Ben Lane

New York is taking homelessness and the state’s lack of affordable housing head-on with an ambitious new program announced Thursday by the state’s governor, Andrew Cuomo.

According to Cuomo’s office, the state is launching a $20 billion, five-year plan to combat homelessness and advance the construction of affordable housing throughout the state.

Over the life of the program, the plan calls for $10 billion to be used to create and preserve more than 110,000 affordable housing units across the state, including approximately 12,000 units created through the newly enacted “Affordable New York” program, Cuomo’s office stated.

The plan includes a $10 billion commitment to create 6,000 new supportive housing beds, including $7.5 billion to “end the homelessness crisis and support housing programs, rental subsidies and other shelter costs in New York City and across the state.”

According to Cuomo’s office, the program is the largest investment in the creation and preservation of affordable housing and efforts to end homelessness in the history of New York.

The initial phase of the program includes $2.5 billion in the state’s fiscal 2018 budget, which will be used to “diversity of housing needs in New York, strengthen protections for tenants, and create new opportunities for low-to-moderate income households,” Cuomo’s office stated.

In the initial phase, the $2.5 billion will be used in several programs, including:

  • New Construction: $472 million for new construction or adaptive reuse of rental housing affordable to households that earn up to 60% of area median income
  • New York City Housing Authority: $200 million for projects and improvements related at housing developments owned or operated by NYCHA
  • Home Ownership: $41.5 million for promoting home ownership among families of low and moderate income and stimulating the development, stabilization, and preservation of New York communities
  • Middle Income Housing: $150 million for new construction, adaptive reuse, or reconstruction of rental housing affordable to households that earn between 60% and 130% of area middle income
  • Affordable Housing Preservation: $146 million for substantial or moderate rehabilitation of existing affordable multi-family rental housing currently under a regulatory agreement
  • Public Housing: $125 million for substantial or moderate rehabilitation and/or the demolition and replacement through new construction of public housing authority developments outside of New York City
  • Small Building Construction: $62.5 million for rehabilitation and/or the demolition and replacement through new construction of buildings of 5 to 40 units
  • NYC 100% Affordable: $100 million for the construction and preservation of 100% affordable units in New York City
  • Mobile and Manufactured Homes: $13 million for mobile and manufactured home programs
  • Main Street Programs: $10 million for stimulating reinvestment in properties located within mixed-use commercial districts located in urban, small town, and rural areas of the state

“This legislation is a major step forward for New York as we strengthen our efforts to combat homelessness and expand access to quality, affordable housing for our most vulnerable men, women and children,” Cuomo said in a statement. “By making significant investments in rehabilitating, preserving and constructing safe and affordable housing, we will open doors for low-income residents and support hard-working New Yorkers in every region of the state.”

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5 Mistakes to Avoid When Buying a House –

5 Mistakes to Avoid When Buying a House

These errors can cost you the chance to buy your dream home, and they can set you back financially.

By Geoff Williams

When you’re buying a home, a lot can go wrong. Your seller, the lender, the appraiser or your real estate agent could do something to inadvertently sabotage the purchase of your new home. And, yes, even you could make a mistake. Homebuyers make plenty of them.

And in today’s homebuying market, where demand is high and supply isn’t, you can’t afford to make any mistakes. This doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of what could go wrong, but if you’re looking to buy a house, do what you can to avoid making these classic homebuying blunders.

Not having your financing ready when you make an offer. If you want a house, and you love it, you don’t have any time to waste, says Ryan Critch, chief executive officer of Ocean400 International Realty in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

“In today’s environment if you love the house, don’t leave without putting in your offer, or the next family will,” he says. “Countless times over the last year families have experienced heartbreak by thinking about it. Get your offer in fast, and think about it during the negotiation. Don’t lose your dream home.”

Critch also says that when you make your offer, you shouldn’t suggest you pay less than what the homeowner is asking. “In today’s seller’s market, we’re often in multiple offer situations, and sellers have little patience for low offers,” he says.

Not looking at homes before you’re ready to make an offer. This is the period of homebuying where you’re window shopping and learning about buying a house. But many homebuyers skip this stage, says Kate Ziegler, a realtor in Boston.

She recommends going to open houses as soon as you know you’re in the mindset that you want to buy a house. Just know that even if you fall in love with a home, you won’t make an offer since you haven’t lined up the financing yet.

“The more properties you can visit in the early stages of a search, the more confident you’ll feel signing the offer when you do find – the one,” Ziegler says.
Skipping or skimping on the home inspection. Many real estate agents say this is happening more and more, especially in a climate where homebuyers are trying to close a deal before anyone else does.

But don’t do that, says Daniel Gyomory, a realtor with Century 21 Town & Country in Northville, Michigan.

“Some buyers want to save a few hundred dollars by not having an inspection done or by having their family member who isn’t a licensed inspector do the inspection. This is a very big mistake,” Gyomory says.

The reasons why it’s a mistake should be obvious – if there are roof leaks you don’t know about, foundation problems, mold issues or any number of reasons you might not want to buy a house, an inspector will probably find them. Otherwise, you’ll find them – someday.

Blindly listening to advice from friends and family members. So you think you’ve found a house, but this is your first one, and you think it’d be a good idea to bring in Mom and Dad to take a look at the home with you. That can be a bad move, says Joshua Jarvis, a real estate agent and owner of Jarvis Team Realty in Duluth, Georgia.

 “This one is common with first-timers,” says Jarvis. “They go see 10 homes after eliminating 50 on the internet, and they invite the parents or Uncle Joe to see the home.”

Because your parents and uncle care about you, any potential problem that they spot, they’ll share with you. And while that’s admirable that they’re looking out for you, they didn’t look at 50 homes on the internet or go to those other homes, Jarvis says.

“They’re basing their decisions on their current perspective of their living situation. If you’re going to rely on advice, then make the person go through as much of the process as you can,” Jarvis says.

And, sure, Jarvis is speaking from the perspective of an agent who has often been close to a sale, only to have a well-meaning relative sabotage it. But chances are, if you start talking to friends who are homebuyers, they’ll tell you stories of how a parent or in-law once talked you out of buying a home, and how ever since they’ve wistfully wondered if they made the right decision.

Buying too expensive of a home. Gyoromy says that this happens a lot.

“Some buyers get their preapproval letter and want to look at houses that are at the very top of their price range, without thinking it through,” he says.

Gyoromy says that you should be thinking about not just those monthly mortgage payments but the cost of owning a home.

That is, you need to be thinking about how much it’ll set you back when you buy a lawn mower or pay a service to cut your grass. You’ll want to keep in mind that when you buy a home, you’ll soon be making the owner of a local furniture store very happy. If you plan on having kids, someday you’ll be begging them to turn off the lights and asking, “Do you think I’m made of money?”

 In other words, to have a better future, think about those future costs.

The 25 Best Affordable Places to Live in the U.S. in 2017

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New law prevents city landlords from refusing tenants based on income – WHEC

New law prevents city landlords from refusing tenants based on income

by: WHEC

June 22, 2017 11:39 PM

This week, the Rochester City Council passed a measure Tuesday night that makes it illegal to turn away tenants because of income.

The city council wants to level the playing field for people who pay for their rent with Section 8 vouchers and other government programs that help families in need pay their rent. City leaders say too often these people are turned away for that reason alone.

“If Section 8 says they’ll pay a certain amount and the apartment goes for that amount, why can’t I get it,” asks Rodney Fudge.

Fudge is a retired Army veteran. In 2013, he found himself homeless. But thanks to a transitional housing program he qualified for, called HUD/VASH, he landed an apartment.

He wants to move to a better place, however, he says many landlords have turned him down.

“I think it would be a good idea if they would just treat us with some dignity and honor,” said Fudge. “I want to be treated fairly. I don’t want any special privileges. I can pay my own way, but I want to be treated fairly.”

The Rochester City Council Tuesday night made it illegal for landlords to deny prospective tenants based on income. Landlords can deny them for other reasons like evictions, or poor credit however.

One landlord who did not want to be on camera told us tenants are turned away often because of the red tape connected to programs like Section 8 and DSS. Joel Kunkler heads the Housing Council’s landlord/tenant services.

Joel Kunkler, Housing Council: “There is paperwork and there is a process and the difference between me as a landlord renting to a fair market tenant to renting to a Section 8 tenant. There is an extra layer of paperwork involved and sometimes it’s confusing and sometimes it’s frustrating.”

Kunkler however says Section 8 is a great way for tenants to get better quality housing in safe neighborhoods. “It’s been really rough.”

Kim Fagan thought she was going to end up homeless after searching for a place for three months. She says this new law gives her hope. “It’s going to open up some doors because I had a lot of doors slammed in my face. I think it still has a long way to go.”

Buying a first home? NY wants to make it easier – Democrat & Chronicle

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.

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