Consumer Alert: New research indicates homes may be out of reach for first-time buyers

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Do you ever feel like your money doesn’t go as far as it used to? That’s not your imagination. And as a new study by Clever Real Estate seems to indicate my 20-year-old may be hanging with mom and dad longer than we thought.

Housing prices have skyrocketed, making the market far tougher for first-time homebuyers. And the study indicates this is nothing new. Clever crunched the numbers in public data and discovered home prices have increased 150% faster than inflation and our incomes. So here’s how that shakes out. According to the Zillow Home Value Index, the typical home value in Rochester in the year 2000 was about $101,000, but Clever Real Estate leaders say the typical price today is far higher.

"The median home price is $203,000 today,” said Danetha Doe of Clever Real Estate… and in order for that to be a healthy ratio to the median income, the median income in Rochester would need to be $78,000."

And that’s shocking because according to the U.S. Census Bureau, the median family income is just over $37,000, making homeownership out of reach for most Rochesterians.

And so, as I exposed in my investigation of Rochester rentals, that often leaves residents dilapidated century-old houses infested with rats and rodents.

So while housing prices have been recently affected by inflationary pressures, clearly the trend began long before we were plagued by pandemic pricing. If you’re among the 62% of Rochesterians who rent, it’s important for you to know your rights.

With some help from Legal Assistance of Western New York, here’s Deanna’s Do List:

  • Always put requests IN WRITING, even if you’ve spoken to the landlord in person. And keep a copy of each written notice.
  • Next, call code enforcement and have the property inspected. Make sure you ask for a copy of the inspector’s list of code violations.
  • You can make the repairs yourself and deduct the cost from your rent. You must notify the landlord in writing FIRST. The costs must be reasonable. Keep all receipts. When you deduct the amount from the rent, send the landlord a copy of all receipts.
  • You can also withhold rent until repairs are made. You must notify your landlord in writing. YOU MUST HAVE EVIDENCE such as: Copies of all letters to the landlord requesting repairs, pictures of the damage, a copy of the inspector’s report, witnesses who can attest to the need for repairs.
  • YOU MUST PUT THE RENT ASIDE. If you go to court for withholding rent, you must be able to show that you’ve put the money aside and haven’t spent it.
  • If you receive rent assistance, ask DSS to withhold its share of the rent. This tends to carry much more weight with a judge.
  • It’s important to note that often landlords will attempt to evict you for non-payment of rent. It’s important that you have clear evidence that you have requested repairs in writing. If this happens, ask the judge to postpone your case. The judge is required to postpone the case for at least 14 days. This will give you time to gather your evidence and contact a lawyer if necessary.
  • If you need help, don’t hesitate to reach out to the City-Wide Tenant Union of Rochester. On its website, you can learn more about how to get help, get involved or donate.