When Tiffany Monty bought her house in Schenectady’s Bellevue neighborhood, she not only got a key to the front door, but a key to the city as well.
Monty was the 100th individual to purchase a home under KeyBank’s Key to the City program, which offers special financing incentives to buyers who decide to put down roots in Schenectady.
The milestone was announced at a press conference Sunday.
Since its inception in September 2011, the Key to the City program has produced 100-plus first mortgage loans totaling $13.3 million. Sixty-six percent of the mortgagees are transplants who moved to Schenectady from Clifton Park, Glens Falls, Rotterdam and Albany. Other new home buyers moved from as far away as New Jersey and California.
At Sunday’s press conference, Mayor Gary McCarthy presented Monty with an inscribed plaque embellished with a golden key, and welcomed her back to Schenectady, the city where she grew up.
The 28-year-old, who works for the New York State Teachers’ Retirement System in Albany, had been renting a residence in Clifton Park.
The Key to the City program is what lured her back to her hometown, she said.
“It’s definitely a good investment. I’m happy to have the equity behind me now. No more renting. It’s mine. It’s a home to call mine. It was completely rehabbed and I’m really happy with it,” she said, of her new three-bedroom house.
She is also pleased to move back to what she called “the new and improved Schenectady,” enthusing about the revitalized downtown section.
The Key to the City program will help the city’s neighborhoods experience an equally impressive turnaround, said McCarthy, acknowledging that it’s not something that will happen overnight.
“You have to create home ownership opportunities and bring people back to the community that want to own homes, that want to appreciate the value that is there and maintain them,” he said.
The Home Ownership Made Easy Schenectady program — H.O.M.E.S., for short — is the umbrella program for the Key to the City program. Through H.O.M.E.S., Schenectady properties are rehabilitated and made available for purchase.
In addition to the homes financed through the Key to the City program, approximately 100 more city homes have been purchased since the program’s inception by individuals who have chosen other financing options, McCarthy said.
Jay Christiana of Prudential Manor Home Realtors offered promising news about Schenectady’s housing market at Sunday’s press conference: Home sales were up 15 percent in Schenectady County for 2012; the average sale price rose 3 percent, to $182,000 and the median home price increased by 3 percent, to $163,000, he reported.
Sunday, there were 20 open houses showcasing properties for sale throughout the city of Schenectady, ranging in price from $29,900 to $299,900.
McCarthy forecast that the H.O.M.E.S. program will continue to grow in 2013 and that this year, more foreclosed properties taken over by the city will be sold.
The mayor pledged that the city will stick with home buyers well beyond the day when they get the keys to their new home.
“Home ownership is a multifaceted undertaking and it’s not just purchasing it, but then it’s maintaining it down the road, so if you’re doing improvements or [there are] other times that you may need municipal services, we want people to feel that they’ve got confidence in their city government and we’re giving them the best value for their dollars,” he said.