Residents encouraged to buy a home as rents increase in Buffalo

June 1, 2016, 6:01pm WIVB Channel 4 News Buffalo

By Callan Gray News 4 Reporter

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)- Renters in Buffalo are being priced out of some neighborhoods because of rising costs.

A number of real estate experts told News 4 there is little affordable housing on Buffalo’s West Side. Now, residents are turning to the city’s East Side to rent or own a home.

“I just want to have something to call my own,” said Marta Pabellon, a new homeowner.

Pabellon is now closing on a house in Buffalo’s East Side after two years of renting an apartment.

“I figure rent is the same price as paying a mortgage,” she said. “I just got tired living up and down from somebody, paying rent. I’d rather put money into my own property.”

She’s a single mother of two daughters and didn’t think she could afford a house. When she looked at renting again, she found out rent rose by $150 or more in the last two years. She looked for apartments in North Buffalo and on Buffalo’s East and West Sides.

“It’s been increasing a lot and not even for a larger apartment, a two bedroom is now the price of a three bedroom,” said Pabellon.

Erie County Legislator Betty Jean Grant said many renters across the city are in the same situation.

“As people come to Buffalo, those that are in Buffalo renting now are finding themselves being displaced,” said Grant.

Grant told News 4 Buffalo’s growing medical corridor, the incentive of Say Yes to Education and the prospect of Solar City jobs are drawing people, and investors, to Buffalo.

“People who are in New York City and other places are buying homes eight, nine, ten at a time and they’re renting them out for probably more than a person could’ve bought it themselves and rented it for,” she explained. “Buffalo is in a boom market for housing and we’re building a lot of apartments but unfortunately for the people here, especially the low income ones, they’re for the high end income residents.”

Despite the competitive market, Grant said there are neighborhoods on Buffalo’s East Side where a mortgage can cost the same, or less, than rent. She encourages residents to consider buying a home.

“If you’re going to pay rent for the same price you can buy a home and have equity in that house, that’s a smarter move to go,” said Grant.

Not everyone agrees.

“That, I guess, was a reality five years ago where it was actually, in Buffalo, cheaper to own your home than it was to rent,” said Stephanie Simeon, executive director of the non-profit Heart of the City. “That’s not the case anymore.”

The organization supports housing development on the Lower West Side and helps first time buyers purchase a home.

Simeon said buying isn’t necessarily cheaper because many homes still on the market for low-income buyers are considered “fixer-uppers”.

“You can get a mortgage for $800 a month but do you have money for a roof repair? Or do you have plumbing that needs to get done or just cosmetics?” said Simeon.

She said it’s putting many residents in a tough situation.

“You cannot find rent below $600 so renting is not an option,” said Simeon. “If you’re low to moderate income [a home] that’s move in ready, that’s not happening. It’s tough, it is really, really tough.”

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