Welcome to Buffalo, first-time home buyers | Business Local
City of Good ‘First-time’ Neighbors
If you’re a first-time homebuyer, take heart: Buffalo is one of the best cities in the country for you.
A new study by personal finance research firm Bankrate.com found that Buffalo is the fifth-best metropolitan area among the largest cities in the United States for those who are buying a home for the first time. That’s based on a weighted combination of factors that homeowners typically consider, including affordability, unemployment rate, commute time, the tightness of the housing market, crime rates and access to food, healthcare, arts and culture.
Bankrate found that Buffalo ranked seventh for affordability and housing market tightness, and 13th for safety, but 30th for the job market and 38th for wellness and culture.
According to the report, the best city in the country is Pittsburgh, which came in first in affordability, second for housing market tightness and third for safety. However, it ranked 31st for culture and 47th for employment. It was followed by Minneapolis, Cincinnati and Kansas City.
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By contrast, Los Angeles was the worst city for first-time homebuyers, followed by Las Vegas, Seattle, Riverside and San Jose. In fact, five of the 10 worst metro areas were in California, including Riverside, at 47th, San Jose, at 46th, San Francisco, at 43rd, and San Diego, at 41st. Other popular destinations for younger people, such as Denver and Houston, were also in the bottom 10.
And while California metro areas performed well for wellness and culture, five Golden State cities ranked at or near the bottom for affordability, in particular – San Jose was 50th, San Francisco was 48th, San Diego was 47th, Sacramento was 44th and Riverside was 42nd.
“The housing boom of the past two years has widened the affordability gap between low-priced and high-priced metro areas,” said Bankrate.com analyst Jeff Ostrowski. “But with remote work becoming the norm for white-collar employees, it’s possible to keep the fatter paycheck while living in a cheaper area.”
Want to know more? Three stories to catch you up:
• Rising mortgage rates just starting to impact home sales
• The rise of the million-dollar buyers
• The housing market is still hot, but it may be poised for a cool-down
Welcome to Buffalo Next. This newsletter from The Buffalo News will bring you the latest coverage on the changing Buffalo Niagara economy – from real estate to health care to startups. Read more at BuffaloNext.com.
THE LATEST, IN CONTEXT
What: Businesses and economic development agencies all agree that the shortage of local construction labor is worrisome. So the Niagara County Industrial Development Agency is trying to do something about it by tightening its local labor policy for new projects and seeking to encourage developers to use contractors that offer apprenticeships.
Tell me more: Like the Erie County IDA and others, the NCIDA had previously adopted a policy requiring applicants for tax incentives to use “qualified local labor” from within the region for 90% of hires on those projects and allowing the agency to conduct spot checks on companies or demand labor information from them to verify their use of local workers.
NCIDA officials said they haven’t had problems with contractors in the past, but nevertheless decided this month to tighten up the policy language, mandating such spot checks each year at the end of projects to ensure compliance. They also narrowed the geographic scope of “local labor” by taking out Monroe County as an option.
What else? Additionally, in an effort to bolster the roster of highly skilled workers, the NCIDA wants more contractors to train and employ workers in a variety of critical skills. So the agency agreed to offer an extra 5% annual reduction in the standard property tax break for the first five years of a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes plan if a project sponsor – a real estate developer or company – hires contractors that agree to use a state-certified apprenticeship program.
WHAT’S HAPPENING WITH…
Then: A six-member investor group called Project X Holdings bought the historic three-story brick firehouse at 310 Jersey St. in February 2017, and then announced plans to convert the long-vacant station – built in 1875 – into a restaurant and microbrewery, with a studio apartment. But the $1.6 million project stirred up neighborhood opposition, and both the Zoning Board of Appeals and Planning Board rejected the group’s applications in 2018.
Now: Despite vowing four years ago not to give up, the group threw in the towel in the wake of the pandemic. Project X sold the building last week to Justin Custer’s Milestone Development of WNY LLC for $400,000 – or $35,000 less than the group had paid five years ago. Custer could not be reached for comment about his new plans.
Catch up on the latest news from Buffalo Next
If consumers cut back on spending – and it’s almost certain that they will because their wages aren’t keeping pace with record-high inflation – it means that the Buffalo Niagara economic recovery is likely to pause or take a few steps back, but so far that hasn’t happened, and job growth has been slow but steady throughout the first five months of this year.
Medaille University President Kenneth Macur has retired at 66, and Lori V. Quigley, a former provost and senior vice president at the school, will become interim president. Macur, who held the role since 2015, had come under fire on a few occasions over the past two years.
Workers at a Starbucks in Cheektowaga will vote again on whether unionize, after the result of the first election was inconclusive, just as a Starbucks executive who was a frequent presence in Buffalo-area stores amid the union’s organizing efforts is leaving the company.
Developer Douglas Jemal is preparing to start the cleanup from a collapsed garage at the two-story Meidenbauer House, a Civil War-era home in the Fruit Belt, as he proceeds with plans to save, renovate and revive the structure.
Perry’s Ice Cream Co. wants to expand its production of novelty treats at its Akron operation, and is planning to construct an addition that would house an extruded ice cream machine.
A growing 76-year-old trucking and logistics company Speed Global Services is seeking to renovate 21 old manufacturing buildings on Vulcan Street in the Town of Tonawanda as part of the $7.145 million project to gain significantly more space for warehouse and distribution.
With jobs hard to fill, nursing homes are becoming a hotbed of labor activism as workers push for higher wages at unionized facilities.
It’s an active time in the world of health care labor discussions, especially at pandemic-battered nursing homes where workers say they’re fed up with low wages and chronic understaffing. Workers at four McGuire Group homes, in fact, held pickets Thursday as negotiations continue.
SUNY Erie Community College is poised to cut staff by more than 150 people in the next month – and that’s just the beginning of the restructuring needed to keep the college alive, ECC President David Balkin told county legislators Thursday.
As Erie Community College works on its 2022-23 budget, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz, in a letter to county legislators, warned that ECC has “one additional year of breathing room left” to make cost-cutting reforms or face dire consequences.
Richard S. Gold will retire as presid
ent and COO of M&T Bank early next year, wrapping up a career with the bank that began in 1989 and included helping to make M&T one of the Buffalo Niagara region’s largest private employers.
SAA-EVI is preparing to launch the next phase of its Buffalo East Side affordable housing project by adding townhomes on nearby lots along Sycamore and Mortimer streets. The developer has already converted the former Buffalo Forge industrial site into a $50 million housing complex.
Five reads from Buffalo Next:
1. Jeff Gingerich will become the first non-Catholic to lead St. Bonaventure University: Growing up Mennonite on an Iowa farm – living simply and serving the marginalized – set the stage for his career in education and role as the 22nd president at the nation’s oldest Franciscan college.
2. Companies large and small are taking a harder look at how much office space they need: Many employees prefer working remotely, and are doing so productively, which can leave employers paying for a lot of leased space sitting empty.
3. The Buffalo Niagara region added 1,400 jobs during May: The job market continued its slow but steady recovery from the Covid-19 recession. It is an encouraging sign for the region’s economy at a time of soaring inflation and rising interest rates.
4. The gasoline tax suspension provided only fleeting relief from soaring prices that now are approaching $5 a gallon: It has drivers changing their habits, skipping road trips that they would otherwise be taking and looking for different ways to save.
5. New Western New York tech boot camp: ‘A shining example of the power of diversity’: Buffalo’s Tech Academy Data Analytics Bootcamp, the first of its kind in Western New York, has its first graduates. The initiative aims to build a tech workforce that represents the area’s diversity and fills the needs of local companies.
The Buffalo Next team gives you the big picture on the region’s economic revitalization. Buying a building? Redeveloping a property? Got a tip? Reach Real Estate & Development reporter Jonathan D. Epstein at 716-849-4478 or email him at [email protected].
Email tips to [email protected].