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The Capital District

Is Homeownership Still Considered Part of the American Dream?

American Dream blog header

Since the birth of our nation, homeownership has always been considered a major piece of the American Dream. As Frederick Peters reports in Forbes:

“The idea of a place of one’s own drives the American story. We became a nation out of a desire to slip the bonds of Europe, which was still in many respects a collection of feudal societies. Old rich families, or the church, owned all the land and, with few exceptions, everyone else was a tenant. The magic of America lay not only in its sense of opportunity, but also in the belief that life could in every way be shaped by the individual. People traveled here not just for religious freedom, but because in America anything seemed possible.”

Additionally, a research paper released just prior to the shelter-in-place orders issued last year concludes:

“Homeownership is undeniably the cornerstone of the American Dream, and is inseparable from our national ethos that, through hard work, every American should have opportunities for prosperity and success. It is the stability and wealth creation that homeownership provides that represents the primary mechanism through which many American families are able to achieve upward socioeconomic mobility and greater opportunities for their children.”

Has the past year changed the American view on homeownership?

Definitely not. A survey of prospective homebuyers released by realtor.com last week reveals that becoming a homeowner is still the main reason this year’s first-time homebuyers want to purchase a home. When asked why they want to buy, three of the top four responses center on the financial benefits of owning a home. The top four reasons for buying are:

  • 59% – “I want to be a homeowner”
  • 33% – “I want to live in a space that I can invest in improving”
  • 31% – “I need more space”
  • 22% – “I want to build equity”

Millennials believe most strongly in homeownership.

The survey also reports that 62% of millennials say a desire to be a homeowner is the main reason they’re buying a home. This contradicts the thinking of some experts who had believed millennials were going to be the first “renter generation” in our nation’s history.

While reporting on the survey, George Ratiu, Senior Economist at realtor.com, said:

“Americans, even millennials who many thought would never buy, have a strong preference for homeownership for the same reasons many generations before them have — to invest in a place of their own and in their communities, and to build a solid financial foundation for themselves and their families.”

Odeta Kushi, Deputy Chief Economist for First American, also addresses millennial homeownership:

“Millennials have delayed marriage and having children in favor of investing in education, pushing marriage and family formation to their early-to-mid thirties, compared with previous generations, who primarily made these lifestyle choices in their twenties…Delayed lifestyle choices delay the desire for homeownership.”

Kushi goes on to explain:

“As more millennials get married and form families, millennials remain poised to transform the housing market. In fact, the housing market is already experiencing the earliest gusts of the tailwind.”

Bottom Line

As it always has been and very likely always will be, homeownership continues to be a major component in every generation’s pursuit of the American Dream.

What Is the #1 Financial Benefit of Homeownership?

Is is financially smart to buy a home now?

There are many financial and non-financial benefits of homeownership, and the greatest financial one is wealth creation. Homeownership has always been the first rung on the ladder that leads to forming household wealth. As Freddie Mac explains:

“Homeownership has cemented its role as part of the American Dream, providing families with a place that is their own and an avenue for building wealth over time. This ‘wealth’ is built, in large part, through the creation of equity…Building equity through your monthly principal payments and appreciation is a critical part of homeownership that can help you create financial stability.”

Odeta Kushi, Deputy Chief Economist at First American, also notes:

“The wealth-building power of homeownership shows that home is not only where your heart is, but also where your wealth is…For the majority of households that transition into homeownership, the most recent data reinforces that housing is one of the biggest positive drivers of wealth creation.”

Last week, CoreLogic released their latest Homeowner Equity Insights Report, which reveals the surge in wealth created over the last twelve months through increased home equity. The report makes five key points:

  1. Roughly 38% of all homes are mortgage-free
  2. The average equity gain of mortgaged homes in the last year was $26,300
  3. The current average equity of mortgaged homes is greater than $200,000
  4. There was a 16.9% increase in total homeowner equity
  5. Total homeowner equity reached over $1.5 trillion

Here’s a map that shows the equity gains by state:What Is the #1 Financial Benefit of Homeownership? | MyKCM

Increasing equity is giving homeowners the power to better manage the challenges of the pandemic, especially for those spending more time at home. In the report, FrankNothaft, Chief Economist for CoreLogic, explains:

“This equity growth has enabled many families to finance home remodeling, such as adding an office or study, further contributing to last year’s record level in home improvement spending.”

The financial advantage homeowners have has not gone unnoticed. In the same report, Frank Martell, President and CEO of CoreLogic, states:

“This growing bank of personal wealth that homeownership affords was noticed by many but in particular for first-time buyers who want a piece of the cake.”

Increasing wealth benefits more than just homeowners.

Last year, the Rosen Consulting Group released a report outlining the benefits of homeownership. In that report, they explained what an increase in net worth – which they call the “wealth effect” – means to the economy:

“In economic literature, the wealth effect is a term used to describe the fact that individuals have a tendency to increase their spending habits when their actual or perceived wealth increases. For homeowners, the latent savings achieved by building equity in their home and the growth in home values over time both contribute to increased net worth. Through the wealth effect, this in turn translates to households having a greater ability and willingness to spend money across a wide range of other types of goods and services that spur business activity and provide a positive multiplier effect that creates jobs and income throughout the economy.”

Bottom Line

Homeownership builds wealth through equity, and this creates a positive impact for homeowners and their communities.

New Year – New Incentives!

Spend More and Save Even More Promotion

Take advantage of a $500 discount for every $10,000 of in upgrades & options when you sign a contract on a pre-sale home in any of these Belmonte new home neighborhoods:

Save when you on options & upgrades like these:

Concord - Open Concept Ranch

Dress up your Great Room with hardwood floors & an elegant coffered ceiling.

Sun room addition - Belmonte Homes

Add more flexible living space to your home with a Screen Porch or Sun Room.

Upgraded Staircase

Make a great  first impression with an eye-catching staircase in your Entry Foyer.

Frameless Shower Door

Upgrade your Master Bath with a transom window, ceramic tile & frameless shower door.

Limited Time Offer – $10,000 in Upgrades!

$10,000 End of Year New Home Promo

Take advantage of $10,000 in upgrades & options when you sign a contract on a pre-sale home in one of these select Belmonte new home neighborhoods before the end of 2019: Alexandria, Bonneau Road, Calvin Court, Griffin’s Ridge & Windsor Woods.

Use the $10,000 for Amazing Upgrades like these:

Dress up your Great Room with hardwood floors & an elegant coffered ceiling.

Concord - Open Concept Ranch

Add more flexible living space to your home with a Screen Porch or Sun Room.

Sun room addition - Belmonte Homes

Make a great  first impression with an eye-catching staircase in your Entry Foyer.

Upgraded Staircase

Upgrade your Master Bath with a transom window, ceramic tile & frameless shower door.

Frameless Shower Door

Promotion Available in these Belmonte Communities

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Chesapeake Model Home - Alexandria

Alexandria

Halfmoon/Clifton Park
Pricing: from the high $300’s

Situated in charming Halfmoon, Alexandria offers large half-acre+ lots  and is in one of the nation’s best school system districts.
*Maintenance Free Lots Available

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Weston Model Home - Spencer's Landing

Bonneau Road

Halfmoon/Clifton Park
Pricing: from the high $400’s

Country living minutes from everything. This boutique community is comprised of four large sites in a nature preserve.

Calvin Court community logo_150x75
Chesapeake QD Home - Calvin Court

Calvin Court

Stillwater
Pricing: from the mid $500’s

ONLY 3 LOTS LEFT! Country living close to Saratoga Lake with several two to five acre sites available. A variety of plans to choose from, or we’ll design with you.

Griffin's Ridge community logo_150x75
Concord Model Home - Griffin' s Ridge

Griffin’s Ridge

Round Lake
Pricing: from the high $300’s

Located in historic Round Lake, Griffin’s Ridge pays homage to the Victorian Architecture of this quaint community.

Windsor Woods community logo_150x75
Stafford QD Home - Windsor Woods

Windsor Woods

Halfmoon
Pricing:from the $400’s

City close but country quiet with rolling hills, Windsor Woods features only 22 homesites with only 5 remaining. Shenendehowa Schools, public water & sewer.

Veterans Day in Saratoga County

Veterans Day in Saratoga Springs

Celebrating Veterans Day in Saratoga Springs

There are lots of opportunities in the Saratoga region this weekend for you to show your respect & appreciation for the men and women who have fought to protect our rights and freedom.

Veterans Day is Saturday, November 11th!  On this national holiday, we come together as a nation to celebrate the patriotism, sacrifice, and willingness to serve of the men and women of the Armed Forces as well as those who have fallen defending the country.  If you are looking for ways to pay your respects to our fighting men and women this Veterans Day, there are lots of opportunities in the Saratoga region.  Choose from formal ceremonies to festive concerts and fundraising balls…all in honor of Veterans.   Or if you prefer a quieter way to show your respect, make plans to visit the Veterans Walk of Honor and Memorial in Congress Park or one of many historical spots in the area.

Here’s a quick list of notable events in the area.  You can find a full list at Saratoga.com.

Friday, November 10th

Saturday, November 11th

Sunday, November 12th     

Do you know what makes Veterans Day different from Memorial Day?

People often get confused over Veterans Day and Memorial Day.  Do you know the difference?  If not, here’s the quick answer:
  • Memorial Day is in honor of those who have died serving in the military – – and mandates flying your flag your flag at half-mast until noon.
  • Veterans Day is in honor all who have served in the military  – –  you can fly your flag at full-mast from sunrise to sunset. According to Military.com, Veterans Day began as Armistice Day to honor the end of World War I, which officially took place on November 11, 1918.

Some key facts:

  • There are 18.5 million veterans living in the United States as of 2016, according to the Census Bureau. Of these, 1.6 million veterans are women.
  • A large proportion of the veteran population, 9.2 million, are aged 65 and older, while 1.6 million are younger than 35.
  • The American labor force has 7.2 million veterans ages 18 to 65. Of these, 6.8 million are employed. Male and female veterans’ annual median incomes are both higher than their non-veteran counterparts.

 

Indulge Your Inner Child this Halloween!

Halloween Fun in Saratoga County- header

Get into the Halloween spirit with an abundance of things to do in Saratoga Springs and the Capital District.

With Halloween just a week away, there are a ton of spookily fun events happening all over the Capital Cities Region.  Daywalker or night-crawler – there’s something for everyone. Choose from family-friendly activities like the Annual Saratoga Downtown Fall Festival this Saturday to the Haunted Maze at Schuyler Farms to more frightening fun (not for little ones) like the Night Terrors Haunted Farm.

It’s truly amazing how many activities and experiences that you can find for  Halloween in Saratoga Springs – – even ones you’ve never imagined like the shenanigans of the Phoenix Belly Dance Presents Halloween performance.  If you prefer a corpse-guided tour along a serial killer infested forest and being hauled into the trees for a truly terrifying  journey in the dark, the Zombie Zip Line is for you!  Or maybe boats are more your thing.  If so, then make plans to sail with the crew of the dead on the Ghost Ship Cruise with Adirondack Cruise & Charter Co. this Friday and Saturday.

Night or day, whether you’re looking for a scare or a smile – there’s Halloween fun for everyone in the Capital Cities Region. We’ve compiled a few links here to help you make your plans:

It’s Apple Picking Season – Fall is Officially Here!

National Apple Month - Guide to Saratoga, NY Picking

Family apple pickingOctober is National Apple Month!

While Saratoga Springs may be known first and foremost for the horses, the locally grown apples are a close second.

Apples are a huge industry in New York State – we’re actually one of the top producers of the fruit in the country!   According to the U.S. Apple Association, New York is the second-largest apple producing state in the country; only Washington State produces more. Michigan ranks third while Pennsylvania and California round out the top 5.  While we’re #2 in production, New York grows and markets more commercial varieties of fresh-market apples than any other region in the country. The top 10 varieties in terms of production are: McIntosh, Empire, Red Delicious, Cortland, Golden Delicious, Rome, Idared, Crispin, Paula Red, and Gala. For a full list and description of the top varieties grown in New York click here.

It’s the perfect time to visit one of the many pick-your-own orchards in the Capital Region to see for yourself how apples are grown, and to meet the growers behind your favorite fruit.  There’s something for everyone. These orchards — some dating back generations — offer restaurants, shops, pumpkin picking, festivals, corn mazes and playgrounds for kids. It’s a wonderful fall tradition to start with your family – you’ll love the time together, outdoors and unplugged!  We’ve compiled a few links here to great area guides to help you find the best orchards to visit:

 

Photo Credit: Sue & Danny Yee /Flickr Creative Commons License 2.0

The Story behind the Saratoga Race Course

The Saratoga Race Course is one of the defining hotspots in Saratoga Springs NY, drawing visitors from all over the world for a day at the races.

While for millions of Americans, summertime means baseball, barbecues and beaches, for many in the Capital District, the Saratoga Race Course is the highlight of these warmer months.  Nothing in the area is so universally loved by locals and tourists alike and represents such a proud and cherished piece of our local culture.

Though for the past 100 years or so the Race Course has been the driving force behind the area’s tourism, it is important to note that Saratoga Springs gave birth to the track, not the other way around.  Long before the opening of the Race Course in 1863, the springs in Saratoga turned the town into a flourishing vacation community, promising cool comfort and relief from the summer heat to the rich and elite across the northeast.

These summer homes drove the demand for entertainment (especially gambling), providing local businessmen and horse owners John Hunter and William Travers an incredible business opportunity.  On August 3, 1863, the two opened a racetrack they deemed “worthy of their thoroughbreds” and hosted the first ever meet.  At only 4 days long, the track’s inaugural season was obviously a bit shorter than the current 40 days, but nevertheless it makes Saratoga Race Course the oldest sporting venue in the United States.  Since 1864, the track has been the site of the Travers Stakes, the oldest major thoroughbred horse race in the United States.  Like the Kentucky Derby, the Travers Stakes is contested on dirt and is open only to three-year-olds.

The 2017 season for the Saratoga Race Course began with Opening Day on Friday, July 21, 2017 and ends with Closing Day on Monday (Labor Day), September 4, 2017. There are 6 days of racing each week all season long (the Track is dark on Tuesdays). Travers Day will be Saturday, August 26, 2017.

The most legendary thoroughbreds in history have known Saratoga as the gold standard in their respective divisions.  From Man o’ War to Secretariat, only the best of the best are deemed worthy enough to test their grit and earn their glory on these hallowed grounds.  It was here at Saratoga that the word “upset” came to be used as a noun describing “an unexpected or unbelieveable defeat”.  In 1913, crowd favorite and legendary thoroughbred Man o’ War was an obvious favorite in the Sanford Stakes.  Victory was all but guaranteed when an underestimated literal “dark horse” came from behind and stole the race.  That horse’s name; Upset.

Over the past 150 years, Saratoga has grown into a legacy across pop culture and around the world for its unparalleled prestige and beauty.  From mention in books, music and film, the name “Saratoga” has become synonymous with glamour, beauty and excitement.  Whether you’re in from out of town, or a local regular, the track is truly a spectacle to behold and a beloved tradition of the Capital District.

 

Photo: ThatMattWade/Flickr https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

Albany Tulip Festival: Say ‘Hello’ to Summer

On May 7th and 8th, as over 100,000 tulips blossom and bloom, the Capital District will say “goodbye” to winter and “hello” to summer. The annual Tulip Festival in Albany is one of the area’s most anticipated and cherished traditions.

You would be hard pressed to come up with a more beautiful place to spend Mother’s Day weekend, than in Washington Park in Albany. This free celebration is host to an array of historic events, kicking off at noon on Friday with the scrubbing of State Street. On Saturday comes the crowning of the Tulip Queen, where one of five local young women will be selected to spend her “one year reign” participating in good works and charity. Finally, Sunday marks the annual “Mother of the Year Award” and of course all the while, the streets will be filled with great food, craft vendors, activities for the kids and multiple stages with nationally acclaimed musical acts.

Whether you’re looking for someplace to celebrate Mother’s Day or just someplace to take a walk in the park this weekend, Tulip Fest has something for everyone. It stands as a true celebration of the season and a beloved piece of Capital District culture.

Friday: Street Scrubbing and Luncheon • Noon
Saturday: Royal Tulip Ball • 6:30pm
Saturday and Sunday: Vendors, food, music and more • 11:00am – 6:00pm

Photo Credit: Darryl Kenyon/Flickr Creative Commons License 2.0

Local History: Through Wartime and Beyond, Stillwater Thrives

Though certainly one of the smaller towns in the Capital District, that is by no means to say that Stillwater is without its share of local history. Far from it, the history of Stillwater, NY, is a vital piece to the birth of our nation and to its continued development and prosperity.

Stillwater’s first contribution to the pages of history had less to do with its residents than it did with its roads. Now the “main drag” in town, Hudson Ave was a piece of “the King’s Highway” for centuries serving as a vital path from Albany up to Montreal through the French and Indian war. When the war came to a close, Stillwater began to see the arrival of permanent settlers from Rhode Island and Connecticut. What was once a small trading outpost was quickly blossoming into a riverside market center and this only became more true with the outbreak of the Revolutionary War.

Fighting against the mightiest empire in the world would require majorly increased industrial production and Stillwater rose to meet this rising demand. Saw mills, brick kilns and tanneries popped up across the town to accommodate the needs of the Continental Army, resulting in a growing community of tradesmen and their families. Though many men marched away to fight and sent their wives and families to seek safety in city centers, the war still marked the dawn of Stillwater as a thriving community.

One of the most significant and overlooked details of the Revolutionary War is also Stillwater’s greatest claim to fame. Though many have heard of the famous “Battle of Saratoga”, few are aware that virtually none of the fighting in this epic battle was actually fought in Saratoga Springs. Rather, the most significant and contentious battle of the American Revolution was won in Stillwater, with only the formal surrender of the British occurring in the town of Saratoga.

Following the Revolutionary War, Stillwater continued to develop and thrive. As with most towns in the Capital District, the construction of the New York State Canal System brought work and prosperity to the region and especially so in this small river town, as the new waterways allowed for dramatically improved trade on the Hudson. Over the years Stillwater would be home to folks ranging from congressmen, to professional athletes and even a first lady as Stillwater born Abigail Powers would go on to marry our 13th president, Millard Fillmore.

With its countless historical markers and beautiful architecture, it comes as no surprise to anyone who has set foot in Stillwater that it is a town of true historical significance. From its humble beginnings as a trade road to the current home of its 7,500 residents, Stillwater, NY, has long shaped the history of our beloved nation.

Credit: Ron Cogswell/Flickr Creative Commons License 2.0 Millard Fillmore credit: Cornell University Library/Flickr Creative Commons License 2.0

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