Realtors Score Legislative Victory as State Legislature Passes NY First Home Bill

John Jordan | June 2017

ALBANY—The New York State Assembly and Senate passed the top legislative item on the Realtor agenda this legislative session—the First-Time Homebuyer Savings Account.

The Assembly passed the measure on June 19th by a 142-1 vote with the only negative vote by Westchester County State Assembly Member Sandy Galef. The measure passed the Senate the same day by a unanimous 62-0 vote. Coined the “NY First Home bill,” the legislation now goes to Gov. Andrew Cuomo for signature.

The First-Time Homebuyer Savings Account—A. 5616 (Phil Ramos) S. 4058 (Betty Little) will establish, if signed into law by Gov. Cuomo, a first time-homebuyer savings account to allow individuals or couples to set aside after-tax income into a bank account designated only for costs associated with buying a first home in New York State. An individual will be allowed to deposit up to $5,000 per year (couples up to $10,000). A total of more than 105 members of the State Assembly and 30 State Senators had signed on in support of the bill as of late last month.

The First-Time Homebuyer Savings Account bill was the top legislative priority of the New York State Association of Realtors and the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors. On May 23rd 45 members of the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors traveled to the State Capital to lobby state legislators on a host of key legislative priorities, including HGAR’s support of the NY First Home bill. More than 250 Realtors from across New York State participated in NYSAR’s annual Lobby Day.

NYSAR President Dawn Carpenter said of the bill’s passage, “The New York State Association of Realtors and its 55,000 Realtors applaud the members of the New York State Legislature for taking action to help more New Yorkers achieve the American Dream of homeownership in communities across the Empire State. Every day Realtors work with aspiring first-time homebuyers who can afford the monthly mortgage payment, but struggle to save enough for the upfront down payment and closing costs. NY First Home will help families and individuals overcome these barriers to homeownership.”

She later added, “NY First Home will make homeownership more easily attainable by helping New Yorkers bridge the gap between where their savings are and where they need to be to receive the keys to their first home. This program will encourage our young people plant their roots here, which will help our state stem the tide of population loss. It’s also a fiscal win for New York State as an independent analysis shows additional home sales would generate $5 for every dollar the state invests in the program.”

HGAR President Dorothy Botsoe says the bill’s passage “presents an outstanding opportunity for first-time homebuyers to be able to put away up to $10,000 tax free. This will help them secure the downpayment funds for their home purchase, which is very difficult these days. So anything that we as Realtors and our state legislators can do to help home buyers and home owners in New York State is fantastic.”

HGAR Chief Executive Officer Richard Haggerty said the bill if signed by the governor, will definitely help the residential real estate market in the Hudson Valley and elsewhere in New York State. “Passage of the NY First Home Bill is an important step in helping first-time buyers purchase a home,” Haggerty said. “It gives them the opportunity to put money aside, while receiving a tax deduction, to use for a down payment and closing costs which, in New York, are often a barrier to home ownership. HGAR thanks its state legislators who were sponsors of the bill.”

Philip Weiden, director of government affairs for HGAR, added, “The passage of the NY First Home program will be a foot in the door for first-time home buyers who currently are not able to save for a down payment. This will keep the American dream of homeownership alive in New York State.”

John Jordan
Editor, Real Estate In-Depth