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Schenectady Adds Tool To Encourage Homeownership

Mayor Gary McCarthy speaks at Schenectady City Hall
Lucas Willard
Mayor Gary McCarthy speaks at Schenectady City Hall

The City of Schenectady is adding another tool to its program designed to encourage more people to invest in property in the city.

Schenectady has partnerships with area banks, realtors and other entities that make up its HOMES program – Home Ownership Made Easy in Schenectady.

On Thursday, Democratic Mayor Gary McCarthy announced a new tool for the HOMES program alongside a mortgage professional from Saratoga National Bank and a realtor with Berkshire Hathaway.

Eliminating the need for a down payment, buyers in Schenectady now have the option to have Saratoga National Bank finance 100 percent of the mortgage. Buyers would need to cover closing costs.

It’s one of several incentives designed to get people to move to Schenectady, says McCarthy.

“It’s to tell people there’s homes for sale, get them to look at Schenectady, and really to come in and work with a real estate professional to look at the options that are out there,” said McCarthy.

Phil Carr with Saratoga National Bank gave the example of people with student loan debt – which may make it difficult to save up for a traditional 20 percent down payment.

“But if they do have a little bit of money set aside, again, they can get into the house at 100 percent, take a little bit of money they may have saved, and put it towards maybe a lingering debt that might be holding them back  from doing a little more than they would like to do,” said Carr.

The 100 percent financing option is an alternative to a traditional FHA loan, which requires a 3.5 percent down payment and the purchase of mortgage insurance.

Carr said Saratoga National’s first-time homebuyer program would take the mortgage insurance off the buyer’s plate.

“We’re going to pay that each month just like the consumer would,” said Carr.

Carr said the bank would help each buyer determine which program would be better suited for them.

Barry Griggs, a real estate salesperson with Berkshire Hathaway, said the Schenectady housing market is on the upswing.

“There’s about 200 active properties and that’s from a range…single-family, two-family, multi-family houses. And there’s more being added every day,” said Griggs.

Griggs said attractions like the Rivers Casino and Mohawk Harbor and a revitalized downtown have generated more interest in Schenectady.

As another way for Schenectady to address neighborhood blight and put more properties on the tax rolls, the city has purchased several homes in recent years to resell. The city is hosting an open house this weekend for six properties:

814 Rankin Avenue
1143 Garner Avenue
320 Gifford Road
1756 Eastern Parkway
1128 Helderberg Avenue
3254 Albany Street

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