BY DAN HEATH
(published by the Press Republican, February 15, 2017)
PLATTSBURGH — A new program aims to increase the number of first-time home buyers within the City of Plattsburgh.
NBT Bank and the Housing Assistance Program of Essex County are promoting the bank’s new Home in the City program for first-time home-buyers who want to purchase a residence within the municipality.
They kicked off the program at a recent meeting with realtors at the Adirondack Room at the Butcher Block restaurant.
Broker/owner Donald Duley of Donald Duley and Associates was among those who attended the program launch. He said he was impressed with the presentation.
“The program will give valuable incentives to home buyers purchasing an owner-occupied residence in the City of Plattsburgh,” Duley said.
NBT Bank Residential Mortgage Manager Joseph Culver said the program is available to first-time home buyers whose income is 120 percent or less of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s median income rate. The HUD website lists the 2016 median income for Clinton County as $63,665.
The loans are for up to 98 percent of the purchase price for a one- or two-family, owner-occupied residence located in the city.
The bank would also offer a 0.25 percent rate reduction on a 30-year loan. It would waive the private mortgage insurance that is usually required on loans above 80 percent of a home’s value.
All told, a borrower could easily save $100 or more per month, Culver said.
EDUCATING FOR SUCCESS
Free home-buyer education, provided by Housing Assistance Program of Essex County Home Purchase Manager Penny Daniels, is also included.
Housing Assistance Program of Essex County Executive Director Alan Hipps said Daniels has provided that education to more than 600 families over the years.
While foreclosure rates have fluctuated widely during the past 20 years nationwide, he said, fewer than 1 percent of the people had to go through that process.
Even those few foreclosures are usually due to unforeseen circumstances, such as job loss or a health issue, not because the borrower took out a mortgage that wasn’t affordable, he said.
“Home buyer education has proven time and again to have a dramatic impact on the success of the home buyer,” Hipps said.
The initiative is a response to increasing numbers of millennials looking to buy a home in the city, as well as older people wanting to
downsize and move into the city.
“This will benefit the bank with new customers and City of Plattsburgh home sellers with more and better-qualified purchasers,” Duley said.
Hipps said the timing is good, with the state’s award of $10 million through the Downtown Revitalization Initiative.
City officials plan to use that money to leverage private investment and promote economic growth, which they hope will lead to increased interest in owning a home in the city.
More residents can help reduce the tax burden on city taxpayers and make Plattsburgh more stable and sustainable.
“Community sustainability is what we are looking for,” Hipps said.
$25 MILLION ALLOCATED
Culver said the bank has put together a $25 million pledge for the program.
“We would love to go through that amount of money,” he said.
That would show the program is a success and would give him cause to ask for an additional commitment.
City of Plattsburgh Mayor Colin Read feels this is an excellent program and makes home ownership in the city much more accessible.
He appreciates the efforts NBT is making to invest in the city and encourages others to take notice of the program the bank has designed.
“We’re always looks forward to working with groups that have ideas for how we bring new residents to our city,” Read said.
The new program fits well with the city’s work to revitalize downtown, as well as job growth expected from industrial development at the former Clinton County Airport (Norsk Titanium) and Plattsburgh International Airport. “There’s no better time to find a place in our city,” Read said.
Email Dan Heath: dheath@pressrepublican. com