- Make a budget and stick to it: Before you decide who you need to buy gifts for, figure out how much you can afford to spend on gifts. Don’t forget to factor in your normal expenses (food, gas, rent, etc.) and make sure not to overextend yourself financially. Once you have decided how much you are spending, then you can decide how much to spend on each person.
- Cash, not credit: Using cash can help you avoid breaking your budget. When you start doing your holiday shopping, take out the amount of cash you intend to spend. When the cash runs out, you’re done shopping. In addition, using cash helps you better understand how much money you are spending, because you are literally handing over the money, rather than swiping a card and seeing numbers on a receipt.
- Trim down your gift list: If there are people on your list you don’t really need to shop for, don’t. Also consider implementing a Secret Santa tradition in your family so that you don’t have to shop for everyone. For a family, consider buying a gift basket with something for everyone in it. Consider teaming up with another family member to shop for relatives.
- Get creative: Spending a lot of money isn’t the only way to show you care. Smaller items with emotional significance can be much more effective and cost-effective than an expensive gadget. If you are a creative person, consider making something yourself. It’s the thought that counts.
- Shop around: Start shopping early so that you can have time to comparison shop. Look online for deals and make sure to get store flyers to check for the best deals. Taking the time to get the best price can wind up saving you a bundle this year.
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Homeowners in default can expect to get a 90-day pre-foreclosure notice, enabling the homeowner to consider his or her options without imminent threat of a foreclosure. Information about local housing counseling agencies, like TRIP and RCHR, will be provided to encourage the homeowner to seek assistance.
Another key provision for a homeowner is the right to have a “mandatory settlement conference” with her/his lender (or their representative) in court, where both parties must “negotiate in good faith” during this mediation session. Lenders may not charge the homeowner a fee for attending a settlement conference and may be subject to sanctions if they fail to come with financial documents and other information required by mediators.
Additionally, when lenders notify the state of an impending foreclosure action, the state must send the borrower’s name to housing counseling agencies, which can then help prepare the borrower in advance of its settlement conference. The settlement conference provision stems from the hope that lenders will be more apt to work with borrowers to modify their loans; currently lenders claim they are overwhelmed by requests for modifications while homeowners complain that their cases drag on for months and months, putting them further behind in their payments.
The legislation also includes important protections for tenants of buildings that go into foreclosure, requiring that a separate notice be delivered to tenants within 10 days of the service of the summons and complaint to the mortgagor (borrower). The notice informs the tenants that the building is in foreclosure and that they may have the right to stay in occupancy for the remainder of their lease term, of if they have no written lease, for ninety days after they are informed of the name and contact information for the new owner by the person or entity who takes title. Tenants in 1 to 4 unit buildings must be sent the notice individually; for larger apartment complexes, the notice must be posted outside each exit and entrance.
In order to avoid the deterioration that can impact an entire neighborhood when a foreclosed home is not kept up, a provision of the legislation requires the plaintiff (lender) in a foreclosure action to maintain the property (consistent with NY property maintenance code) after the judgment of foreclosure is issued and until the property is sold. If a tenant occupies the property, the property must also be maintained in a safe and habitable condition. This provision may be enforced by the municipality, tenants, or a homeowners association, in applicable.
To prevent distressed homeowners from falling prey to “rescue scams,” the bill also includes provisions prohibiting “distressed property consultants” from taking any payment before completion of services.
This legislation creates new legal rights and responsibilities. The foregoing article is not intended to be a substitute for legal advice. If you are involved in a foreclosure action you should seek the advice of an attorney to understand how this legislation impacts your situation. Homeowners facing foreclosure can contact TRIP’s HomeOwnership Center at 690-0020 for assistance in determining their mortgage options and/or can contact Legal Aid directly at 462-6765.
For more information about the new State legislation providing foreclosure protections, contact TRIP at 272-8289 x214 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Monday, November 30, 2009
Originally published 11/29/09 in The Troy Record as TRIP's Troy Treasures column, which runs in every other Sunday edition.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Monday, November 16, 2009
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
- The $8,000 tax credit is for first-time home buyers only. For the tax credit program, the IRS defines a first-time home buyer as someone who has not owned a principal residence during the three-year period prior to the purchase.
- The tax credit does not have to be repaid, unless the home is sold within 3 years following the purchase.
- The tax credit is equal to 10 percent of the home’s purchase price up to a maximum of $8,000.
- The tax credit applies only to homes priced at $800,000 or less.
- The tax credit now applies to sales occurring on or after January 1, 2009 and on or before April 30, 2010. However, in cases where a binding sales contract is signed by April 30, 2010, a home purchase completed by June 30, 2010 will qualify.
- For homes purchased on or after January 1, 2009 and on or before November 6, 2009, the income limits are $75,000 for single taxpayers and $150,000 for married couples filing jointly.
- For homes purchased after November 6, 2009 and on or before April 30, 2010, single taxpayers with incomes up to $125,000 and married couples with incomes up to $225,000 qualify for the full tax credit.
- To be eligible to claim the tax credit, buyers must have owned and lived in their previous home for five consecutive years out of the last eight years.
- The tax credit does not have to be repaid, unless the home is sold within 3 years following the purchase..
- The tax credit is equal to 10 percent of the home’s purchase price up to a maximum of $6,500.
- The tax credit applies only to homes priced at $800,000 or less.
- The credit is available for homes purchased after November 6, 2009 and on or before April 30, 2010. However, in cases where a binding sales contract is signed by April 30, 2010, the home purchase qualifies provided it is completed by June 30, 2010.
- Single taxpayers with incomes up to $125,000 and married couples with incomes up to $225,000 qualify for the full tax credit.
- Members of the Armed Forces, military intelligence and Foreign Service who are on extended overseas duty or who have been on active duty for more than 90 days in 2008 and 2009 have another year to use the tax credit (through June, 30, 2011).
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
TRIP's HomeOwnership Center can help answer some of your questions, and help you to generate more of your own.
Some good starting questions to ask yourself are:
What am I waiting for? A bill to be paid? Prices of houses to come down? Credit problems? Do I have enough money saved? How does the home buying process work?
How soon are you looking to purchase? 3 months? 1 year? 2 years?
What geographic area would you like to purchase a home? City of Troy, outside of Troy, outside of Rensselaer County?
Am I eligible for grant assistance? What does that mean?
TRIP offers counseling and education to potential home buyers regardless of income and geographic location.
What's your first step?
Attending a Homebuyer Orientation! At our orientation, we go over our programs, so you will better understand the qualifications and requirements for our down payment assistance programs as well as what's involved in the home buying process.
Check our Calendar of Events for the next scheduled Orientation!
Then contact the HomeOwnership Center at 690-0020 x221 or e-mail email@example.com with questions or to register.
And then what?
After attending a Homebuyer Orientation, you will need to schedule a one-on-one appointment with one of our counselors. At this appointment, you will be able to get an assessment of your mortgage readiness. This can include but is not limited to:
- approximately how much of a mortgage will a bank approve you for based on income;
- how much would that monthly mortgage payment be and how that fits with your monthly budget;
- would a bank approve you for a mortgage based on your credit history and current debts;
- are you income eligible for any down payment assistance;
Sunday, November 1, 2009
Keep your heating system operating efficiently for both safety reasons and energy savings. Get your furnace serviced regularly.
A real winter nightmare – and a costly one – is frozen pipes that then break and flood your house with water, causing extensive damage to your house and belongings. Prevent pipes from freezing by identifying those located in unheated areas, then insulate them and wrap them in heat tape. Also, periodically run a small trickle of water from your hot and cold faucets and open the doors of cabinets with water pipes running through them. This is particularly important if the house will be unheated for extended periods of time, such as when you and/or your tenants are out of town.
An often ignored winter problem is the potential for ice dams to form, which can damage the roof, gutters, walls, interior ceiling and even items inside the home. Ice dams occur during melting/freezing cycles, when melted water and ice can work up under the shingles, eventually seeping into the building. To prevent ice damming, make sure your gutters and downspouts are clear of leaves and sticks in the fall, then clear snow and icicles from them all winter long. Make sure to keep the buildup of snow on your roof to a minimum, using a long-handled roof rake if needed to pull the snow off the roof. All winter long, keep gutters and down spouts clear of snow and icicles.
For additional simple tips to save energy, check out suggestion on Rensselaer County’s website at http://www.rensco.com/save_energy_main.asp
Assistance in Paying Heating Bills
As of yesterday, November 2nd, applications for assistance in paying home heating bills through HEAP (the Home Energy Assistance Program) are being accepted. The income limits for eligible households have been raised since last year; a family of four with an annual income of up to $46,837 is now eligible. Households that are eligible can receive one regular payment and may be eligible for a second emergency payment in certain cases. HEAP is available both to renters and to homeowners. More information about the benefits and terms can be found at http://www.myBenefits.ny.gov or at http://www.rensco.com/social_heap.asp or by calling (518) 270-3935.
Safety Tip: When you changed your clock this weekend, did you remember to change the batteries in your smoke alarm and carbon monoxide monitor?
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
TRIP is co-sponsoring a Troy Landlord Training Program on Thursday, November 12, 2009 from 5:30 – 9:30 PM. It will be held at the
Seating is limited so please reserve by contacting TRIP’s HomeOwnership Center at firstname.lastname@example.org or 690-0020. A light meal will be provided. The Troy Landlord Training Program is co-sponsored by Troy Rehabilitation and Improvement Program (TRIP), Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and the City of Troy.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Everyday, TRIP is making a difference in our neighborhoods by providing the information that helps people make informed decisions, empowers homeowners, strengthens neighborhoods and brings a sense of pride in community.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
A buyer of a qualified historic home may also be able to claim the tax credit if he or she was the first purchaser after a substantial rehabilitation by the seller, which was certified as meeting the established requirements. Furthermore, the sale must occur within five years of the certification of the completed work and the seller could not have previously taken the tax credit.
- Listed on the State or National Register or as a contributing building in a historic district; and
- Located in a federal census tract that is at 100% or less of the State
- Family Median Income or has similar designations. Call SHPO to determine whether your neighborhood qualifies.
Monday, October 19, 2009
TRIP & RCHR will present its 2009 Community Citizenship Award to John Scarchilli, President and CEO of Pioneer Bank, for his many decades of commitment to Troy and Rensselaer County. In conjunction with John's leadership, Pioneer has helped TRIP and RCHR -- and the communities they serve -- in numerous ways for many years. Pioneer is a long-term supporter of the homeownership programs, helping first-time homebuyers achieve -- and maintain - their American dream. Additionally, Pioneer provided capital investments so that TRIP could renovate derelict abandoned buildings and bring them back to life, and then supplied volunteers to help improve the surrounding neighborhoods with various improvement projects.
Also being recognized at the TRIP and RCHR Annual Dinner are three people who each contributed to Troy's revitalization when they served as Executive Directors of TRIP during its 40 year history. Vinny Lepera, Duncan Barrett, and Barbara Jones Higbee are this year's recipients of TRIP's Troy Treasure Award, which recognizes a person or group who demonstrates a passion for Troy in very positive and real ways. Come hear their stories.TRIP and RCHR are pleased to honor and show their appreciation for four of our area's valuable assets at the Annual Homecoming Dinner. Please join us on Monday, October 26 at the Franklin Terrace Ballroom, 126 Campbell Avenue, Troy, NY. Tickets are still available. For ticket information, please contact email@example.com or 272-8289 x212.
Friday, October 16, 2009
Troy residents are asked to make some important decisions on November 3, Election Day. Who do you want to lead the City as it faces difficult issues and tough choices over the next two years? Who will make the best judges in Rensselaer County Court and Family Court? What do you really know about the candidates? How can you find out their positions on issues that are important to you? How will you decide who to cast your votes for in two weeks?
To help you decide, don’t miss a “Meet the Candidates Night” on Wednesday, October 21st, from 7 – 9 PM at the CYO,
“Meet the Candidates Night” is free and open to the public. It is sponsored by TNAC (Troy Neighborhoods Action Council) and TRIP (Troy Rehabilitation and Improvement Program) to help people who care about Troy make informed choices as they pull the levers on November 3rd for their best hopes for Troy’s leaders.
We’re pleased that the League of Women Voters is again partnering with us to moderate the presentations by the candidates. We look forward to an informative and interesting evening!
TNAC is a non-partisan coalition led by neighborhood leaders and comprised of
More than the influence even of elected officials,
Thursday, June 25, 2009
TRIP accomplishes this by providing opportunities for people to access decent, safe, affordable housing – whether through helping them achieve home ownership or by renting one of our apartments — and by working in partnership with neighborhood residents and others to create vibrant communities.