Buffalo Ranked #2 Best City to Relocate To

Buffalo Ranked #2 Best City to Relocate To

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A CNBC research article has named Buffalo the second best city to relocate to in North America. This should come as no surprise to Buffalonians, who know just how much this city has to offer.

According to the poll, Buffalo is a city that has “gone through a sort of gut-wrenching transition into the 21st Century and now that it’s gotten over the bumps, it’s a great place to live.” It also described just how affordable Buffalo is– the cost of living is some 14% below the national average. The average cost of a home is $119,700, well below the national average of $171,700!

Healthcare and education were also listed as our city’s fastest growing industries.

Check out the rest of the list below:

1. Pittsburgh, Pa.
2. Buffalo, N.Y.
3. Omaha, NE/Council Bluffs, Iowa
4. Fort Worth-Arlington, Texas
5. Austin-Round Rock, Texas
6. Des Moines-West Des Moines, Iowa
7. Madison, Wis.
8. Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, Minn.
9. Denver-Aurora, Colo.
10. Indianapolis-Carmel, Ind.

Senior Housing Planned for Former Millard Fillmore Gates Circle

Canterbury Woods, an upscale senior development agency in Amherst, plans to redevelop the former hospital as a new haven for seniors. Assemblywoman Crystal D. Peoples-Stokes, D-Buffalo, said that such a facility could fill a need for senior citizen housing that could keep people in the city. “There is a certain scale of economy that comes with a critical mass of seniors, much like for young people,” Peoples-Stokes said in discussing the potential benefits. “It could also bode well for additional businesses in the area.”

New Technologies for Aging in Place

Check out these new technologies that aim to help independent living a more viable option for seniors.

CareAtHand. “Care at Hand empowers $10/hr lay caregivers to prevent $10,000 hospital admissions. While lay home care workers perform household chores for elderly patients, they use tablets to observe and record the health of their patients. We combine this data with our predictive algorithms to allow care coordinators to intervene when a patient looks like their health is worsening.” For use by home care workers — Founders, Jeffrey Levy, and Andrey Ostrovsky, MD. Learn more at Careathand.com.

CareSolver. “CareSolver’s Care Plan Library covers the health conditions affecting seniors along with the other non-health related aspects of providing care, including financing and budgeting, legal, and finding free resources. CareSolver’s CareEngine will draw from the Care Plan Library to generate a personalized care plan tailored to you and your Loved One’s specific circumstances in minutes.” For family caregivers — Founders, Arick Morton, Grant Hamm, and Shana Hoffman. Learn more at Caresolver.com.

OmadaHealth (Prevent). “Based on the landmark NIH-sponsored Diabetes Prevention Program, Prevent builds on over a decade of research in disease prevention and behavior change. The Prevent program is engaging and easy to use. We provide digital tracking tools, personalized coaching, and social support to motivate and sustain healthy behaviors. By working to stop diabetes before it starts, Prevent aims to curb the impact of the largest preventable health care cost. And it works: on average, our participants lose 6% of their body weight in just 16 weeks, exceeding clinical results and putting them on the path toward lifelong health.” Founders – many. Learn more at Omadahealth.com.

OpenPlacement, Inc. “We provide seniors, families and care coordinators real-time information & tools so they can find the right senior housing and home care provider. Whether it’s finding the right assisted living, nursing home, dementia care or helping with your at home care needs, OpenPlacement provides you with the information and support you need to make care transitions easy.” Founders, Daniel Trigub, Justin Usher, and Dominic Scotto. Learn more at Openplacement.com.

StoryWorth. “Family stories bring us closer together. They help our children understand where they come from and what their family values are, and let grandparents connect with their grandchildren. Invite up to 6 family members to write their stories by email or on the web, recording audio stories with phone calls, uploading pictures and audio files, saving and editing stories on storyworth.com.” Founder – Nick Baum. Learn more at Storyworth.com.

WalkJoy. “WalkJoy/WalkingHealth is a device & diagnostic platform that addresses fall risks, Peripheral Neuropathy and other walking health problems. This unique platform reduces unhealthy walking conditions and their related healthcare costs. WalkJoy exists as the only clinically-proven means of restoring gait and balance for people with PN. Simultaneously developed WalkingHealth is an easy and accurate platform that provides real-world/real-time diagnostics that are efficacious in all walking health applications.” Founder – Blane Tomlinson, David Eckhous, Joe McKnight. Learn more at Walkjoy.com.

Warming Up an Old Home

From Zillow.com:

Older homes certainly have their charm, but they’re not usually the most energy efficient or the easiest to keep warm. About one-third of our nation’s energy consumption comes from the residential sector, and about 70 percent of this can be attributed to homes built before 1983, according to a study by  ConSol, a building and energy consulting firm in California. But living in an older home doesn’t mean you have to put up with drafty doors and cold nights huddled around the fire. There are several smart ways to work with your home’s existing structure to improve its efficiency, and make it as warm and comfortable as an old sweater.

No. 1: Do an energy audit

You’ve no doubt heard that knowledge is power. Well, in this case, knowledge can actually save you power. An energy audit is a great place to start when you’re seeking to retrofit an older home to make it warmer, because it will show you exactly where most of your warm air is escaping and cold air is entering. Some utility companies offer energy audits for free, so check with your providers first to see if this is a possibility. If not, you may wish to hire a professional energy auditor who will go beyond pointing out the obvious sources of heat loss and give you a comprehensive plan for warming up your home. If you find a professional too costly, you can do a basic energy audit yourself by finding leaks with the smoke from a stick of incense. On a windy day, simply wave the smoke from the incense near windows, doors and anywhere else there might be a gap to the outdoors. The smoke will blow inwards where you have gaps that let outside air in, and it will get sucked toward heat-depleting leaks. In both cases, you’ll want to close up the gaps with caulk or insulation.

No. 2: Check windows & doors

Did you know that a one-eighth-inch gap beneath a 36-inch door has the same effect on your home as a 2.4-inch-wide hole in the wall? Sealing gaps around doors and windows is one of the easiest, cheapest and most effective ways to warm up your older home. Place weather stripping around loose doors and windows, and caulk obvious holes around window sashes. You can also seal windows for the winter using a plastic sheeting kit from your local-home center or hardware store. Even drapes and blinds can help retain heat in the colder months. If you still notice a draft beneath your door after you’ve installed weather stripping, a rolled up towel or “door snake” can further block drafts.

No. 3: Insulate

Older homes tend to be insulation challenged. They did not always receive the benefit of this energy-regulating material or the vapor barriers that often accompany its installation. If your home is insulation free — or just lacks adequate insulation — you can retrofit it by hiring trained installers to inject a nonflammable foam resin into existing walls. This means there’s no need to remove either exterior or interior walls and, according to the manufacturers, the installation can take less than a day for a whole house. The foam is filled with tiny air bubbles that increase its heating and cooling properties.

Before insulating an older home, however, be aware of the fact that you need to maintain some airflow. Old homes were designed to “breathe,” and if you seal them up too tightly, you might experience issues with moisture buildup. Talk with your energy auditor to make sure that you’ll continue to have adequate airflow once your home has been retrofitted with insulation.

No. 4: Install a programmable thermostat

A thermostat that acts like the brain of your heating system might seem like something compatible with only newer high-tech homes, but replacing an old thermostat with a newer model is a relatively straightforward affair that can be done by most DIYers in homes of any age. You can buy a programmable thermostat that can create different heating schedules for every day of the week, or one that has a set schedule for weekdays and another for weekends. By operating your home’s heating system through a “smart” thermostat, you can make sure the house stays warm and toasty when occupied and saves you money on heating fuel when vacant. For maximum efficiency, thermostats of all kinds should be installed away from heating and cooling vents, open windows and direct sun, and should be set to remain at steady temperatures for long periods of time rather than spike up and down throughout the day.

No. 5: Install radiant floor heating

Unlike electric baseboard units or forced hot-air systems that constantly spike the temperature and then kick on again when the house cools down, radiant floor heating provides a quiet, constant warm glow throughout your house. You can retrofit radiant floor heating beneath the floors, in effect warming the actual structure of your home. Not only is this a very energy-efficient way to heat your home; it’s also very pleasant. Imagine never again having to step on a frigid floor on a cold winter’s morning.

These days, most radiant floor systems are being installed in new homes and would be difficult to add to an older home. That’s not the case, however, with a newer product called Warmboard. Warmboard-R is a subfloor panel designed specifically for remodels. These radiant panels transfer heat quickly from the water in the system’s tubing to the inside of your home. The radiant panels actually increase the rigidity of existing subfloor panels in old homes as well as provide a flatter and smoother subfloor surface for finished flooring. The thick aluminum coating on the Warmboard-R panels can also save you money because the panels transfer heat to your home more quickly than other radiant options while requiring less hot water to reach the desired temperature in your home.

HARP Questions Answered

From Zillow.com:

The government’s Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) has helped millions of homeowners save hundreds of dollars a month on their mortgage payments, and it might help you, too — even if you owe more on your loan than your home is worth.

Announced in 2009, HARP has undergone significant changes enabling more homeowners to refinance. But those changes may also have caused confusion. Am I too underwater? What’s different about HARP? Does my current mortgage company have to refinance my loan?

Here are the answers to seven commonly asked questions about HARP. What’s most important is that if you think you might qualify for this program, contact your mortgage company to find out.

1. What enhancements were made to HARP that may make me eligible now?

HARP underwent significant changes, but the primary enhancement removed the limit on the amount that homeowners could be underwater (owe more on their mortgages than their homes are worth). With that change, many homeowners who were not eligible now may qualify. Other changes made it easier for homeowners to refinance under HARP using the HARP lender of their choice.

2. What if I have an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM)?

HARP can be an advantage because it allows you to replace your adjustable-rate mortgage with a more stable fixed-rate mortgage. For borrowers coming up on a payment reset, refinancing now with HARP may be a benefit because you can lock into a low fixed-rate now — before rates may go higher.

3. Is HARP the only refinance program available?

HARP is one of several refinancing options available to eligible homeowners. But HARP is unique — it’s the only widely available refinance program that enables eligible borrowers with little to no equity in their homes to take advantage of low interest rates and other refinancing benefits.

4. How can I find out whether my loan is owned by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac?

You can confirm whether your mortgage is owned by either Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac by checking the following websites:

For Fannie Mae: http://knowyouroptions.com/loanlookup
For Freddie Mac: http://freddiemac.com/mymortgage
Only mortgages owned or guaranteed by either Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac are eligible for refinance under HARP.

5. If I complete a HARP refinance can I add or remove someone from the loan?

Yes, with a HARP refinance you can add or delete co-borrowers as long as one of the original borrowers remains on the loan.

6. If I owe more on my home than it’s worth, will I have to make a down payment before I can refinance?

No, you won’t need to pay more money down on your mortgage in order to refinance with HARP; in fact, most lenders will allow you to roll in your closing costs, so you have no out-of-pocket expense. But depending on which lender you work with, you may need to pay closing costs.

7. Do I have to refinance for another 30 years?

No. Shorter loan terms (15 years and 20 years) may be available for qualified borrowers, so you can start paying down your mortgage quicker and building equity faster.

Take action

Take the 30-second HARP quiz to find out whether you might qualify. There’s nothing to lose, and you could save hundreds of dollars every month.

When you’re ready to find out if HARP’s right for you, contact your current mortgage company (the company listed on your monthly mortgage statement). If your current mortgage company is unable to help you, visit HARP.gov or KnowYourOptions.com/harp for a searchable list of HARP lenders to find one in your area. Any participating HARP lender can refinance eligible loans.