The Buffalo News - Business http://www.buffalonews.com Latest stories from The Buffalo News en-us Mon, 14 Jul 2014 03:08:08 -0400 Mon, 14 Jul 2014 03:08:08 -0400 <![CDATA[ How fast you can you spend your retirement savings? ]]> http://www.buffalonews.com/business/money-smart/how-fast-you-can-you-spend-your-retirement-savings-20140713
“Isn’t retirement something to really celebrate?” says Grandy, 65, who did graphic design work and took an early retirement buyout in 2009.

Grandy has a pension, Social Security coverage and retirement savings. But he and his wife, Kathleen, realized that they were withdrawing too much of their savings in the first few years. The Wyandotte, Mich., couple initially treated themselves to eating out more often than they would have in the past. He remembers going to an art fair and splurging on some artwork early on, too. If that went on, he said, the savings wouldn’t last.

It’s possible the celebration can run a bit too long, as some baby boomers soon discover. Saving for retirement is one thing; learning how to make that retirement nest egg last 25 years to 30 years or even 40 years is another.

Once you save all that money for retirement, the big question for many baby boomers is what, really, can I afford to spend each year? How much money you need in retirement can depend on whether you have any pension or when you begin collecting Social Security.

Some consider a safe withdrawal rate to be 4 percent each year from a portfolio. But that 4 percent rule is becoming more of a subject of debate in an environment of low-interest rates and high stock market volatility.

“People should not misinterpret it. It’s not any kind of guarantee,” said Wade Pfau, professor of retirement income at the American College outside Philadelphia.

Pfau warned that the 4 percent is based on the assumption of a fairly aggressive portfolio, which includes stocks. The 4 percent rule would have worked during a 30-year time beginning in 1966, which included a time of high interest rates.

“No one knows what a safe rate will be because returns will depend on future events – which haven’t happened and are therefore unknowable,” said Marilyn Capelli Dimitroff, director of wealth management and principal at Planning Alternatives in Bloomfield Hills, Mich.

“Every situation is personal and not cookie cutter.”

A key question: Is the retiree paying much attention to how much he or she is spending? Say a retiree sets up a system to spend 4% but then the retiree pays cash for a car, takes out extra money to pay taxes on a cottage, or takes $15,000 or more to pay for a wedding.

“It’s amazing that those withdrawals don’t add into the mental calculation,” said James P. Studinger, owner of JPStudinger Group, a wealth-management firm in Troy, Mich.

Maybe the $50,000 in cash accounts at the beginning of a year drops to $25,000 or less at year end.

“So even though they took out a modest amount from an IRA, in reality they are spending much more than that,” Studinger said.

Doug Fisher, senior vice president of Fidelity Investments, said some research is showing that a significant number of retirees are withdrawing at a rate that’s higher than 4 percent of their portfolios each year. If so, many could be at greater risk of running out of savings.

Fisher says the 4 percent rule is a guideline that can help even start a conversation about how much money could be available in retirement. Fidelity offers a calculator and is working with some employers to provide more guidance on retirement readiness.

Three things can dictate how much retirees spend each year in retirement: their time-horizon, their tolerance for risk and how much of a guarantee they want that their money will last through their lifetimes, according to Colleen Jaconetti, senior investment analyst for the Vanguard Investment Strategy Group.

Someone who is going to need money for 40 years or more, she said, is at greater risk if they want to withdraw 4 percent or more in a year in retirement. But someone who retired later and needs the money for 10 years might be able to withdraw closer to 8 percent or 10 percent in a year.

Vanguard, she said, focuses on telling retirees to steer clear of thinking there is one correct withdrawal rate. The 4 percent rate takes into account a 50-50 mix of stocks and bonds; a 30-year time horizon and an 85 percent success rate that the money would last through retirement, she said.

Vanguard also has a calculator online that can help retirees determine how much to spend in retirement.

One mistake retirees can make, Jaconetti said, is to let their income from dividends and interest dictate their spending. If so, there could be a greater temptation to shift from a balanced portfolio and take on high-risk investments, such as high-yield bonds. Retirees might be better off tapping into some capital appreciation in given years, instead of taking on more risk.

Baby boomer retirees and those four or five years from retirement need to calculate how they’re going to generate a paycheck in retirement. But they also need to review what they’re spending and what adjustments they can make early in the game.

Grandy and his wife put a tighter control on their spending, recognizing that his mother is in her 90s now. The impulse spending had to stop for that money to last. Now, he’s making extra spending money as an artist, doing work in clay and creating laser paper sculptures. The couple focuses on doing things with their nine grandchildren, soon to be 10, instead of lavishing them with gifts, too. ]]>
Sun, 13 Jul 2014 23:42:47 -0400 By Susan Tompor

Detroit Free Press

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<![CDATA[ UB professor attracts world’s engineers to Buffalo for conference, tech expo in August ]]> http://www.buffalonews.com/city-region/ub-professor-attracts-worlds-engineers-to-buffalo-for-conference-tech-expo-in-august-20140713
The American Society of Mechanical Engineers – the primary standard-setting organization for engineers – annually hosts a conglomerate conference that covers 11 separate disciplines within the profession.

It has made stops in past years to Chicago and Montreal. Next year it’s headed for Boston.

This year, when the ASME brings its “Big Game” to the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center Thursday through next Sunday, Buffalo will serve as an incubator for several new twists to the conference dreamed up by Venkat Krovi, an associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at UB.

The ASME, in collaboration with the University at Buffalo, for the first time will offer a career fair and engineering expo as part of the event in an effort to integrate industry professionals with academics and students and to show off innovations in manufacturing technology.

Krovi, who serves as general chair for the conference, hopes the new aspects will become mainstays for future conferences.

With the University at Buffalo as a backdrop, senior undergraduate and graduate students from Western New York – not just from UB – and around the world will be able to network with industry leaders.

The expo portion, called the 2014 Advanced Design and Manufacturing Impact Forum, will be open to “anybody who wants to get their technology fix,” Krovi declares.

It will showcase exhibits and presentations that cover some of the hottest topics in manufacturing, including self-driving cars, “Avatar”-like vertical lift aircraft and 3-D printing, to name a few.

In all, the conference is expected to attract 1,500 to 2,000 people from around the world.

Krovi recently sat down to answer questions about how Buffalo reeled in the conference and what people can expect when it rolls into town.

Brandon Schlager: What is the ASME and its annual conference all about?

Venkat Krovi: The ASME is the premier professional society for mechanical engineering. Although it’s an American society, it’s an international forum. We have about 130,000 members from across the globe.

The conference that is coming here is called the ‘design conference’ because, as mechanical engineers, we have not done a great job showcasing all of the places mechanical engineering is useful.

BS: This conference is generally reserved for larger venues in Chicago, Washington, D.C., Montreal. Why Buffalo?

VK: The majority of the members of our community get the chance to go to one conference a year. They not only want to go to the conference to meet their fellow engineers and learn from them, they also want to have a little bit of fun. And so picking a venue where you can actually do that, I didn’t have to work too hard. I said, 15 miles from the Convention Center is Niagara Falls. I think that pretty much sold itself.

BS: Was there a sense of surprise when Buffalo was awarded the conference?

VK: We proposed three sites, and we wanted it to be close. So we asked for Buffalo, Niagara Falls or Toronto.

I don’t want to brag here, but it was a figment of our collective imaginations a couple of years ago. To have it come together nicely like this, I have to thank a lot of stars.

BS: Has feedback been positive about the location of the conference?

VK: Yes, and no. The one question I keep getting: ‘How much snow is going to be there?’ I say, in August, you just have to come and see.

Our hope is that when people come and see the quality of life that is here, the rich opportunity that has always been here and now with things like SUNY 2020 and the Buffalo Billion, they’ll be impressed by the energy. By having them come here and get a feel for the place themselves, we hope a few of them say, ‘Hey, Buffalo is a place I want to set my roots down and start a family.’ There’s a lot of opportunity here and there’s a real opportunity to sort of recapture some the glory of years past.

We want to move the conversation ever so slightly from the snow to all these other things.

BS: What can be expected of the career fair and expo portion in its inaugural year?

VK: We’re going to have some concept cars on the floor, the 3-D printers. ... We’re trying to showcase the ways in which every aspect of our daily lives are going to be touched by some of the technologies that are coming through here.

This is not intended to be just for the engineers. This is not intended to be business. We also wanted to showcase how it’s going to touch people’s everyday lives in some of these many different ways.

BS: What does the Buffalo engineering community have to offer to those coming from out of town?

VK: I’ve been to these types of conferences everywhere. Moog, we discount it as this local company. But when you go anywhere outside, the people in the engineering community say, ‘Oh, you’re from Buffalo? That’s where Moog is,’ because Moog revolutionized engineering. Fisher-Price is a common, household name – literally.

In another sense, Bethlehem Steel used to be here. Bell Aircraft was here. Calspan. So within the engineering community, there is a lot of recognition that a lot of really good engineering came out of Buffalo. ... You know the saying, ‘Speak softly but carry a big stick’? I think that’s probably what Buffalonians do when it comes to engineering.

BS: Which direction is the manufacturing industry headed?

VK: Traditionally, if you built something, it had to be built locally. And you tried to keep all your suppliers close by. Today, you can take a part, any part, digitize it into bits and bytes halfway across the globe and then reconstitute it with a 3-D printer. This is your teleporter from ‘Star Trek.’

These innovations are coming about and they’re changing not only how we interact with day-to-day things, but also the way we live our lives. Not all technology is necessarily making us better off, but it’s changing the way we live.

A full list of speakers and events can be found online at go.asme.org/impactforum. ]]>
Sat, 12 Jul 2014 14:02:29 -0400
<![CDATA[ Pick the right stain for your deck ]]> http://www.buffalonews.com/business/consumer-reports/pick-the-right-stain-for-your-deck-20140714
More manufacturers are promising greater longevity with long warranties that cover the cracking and dirt most homeowners gripe about. Paints that brush on without priming first and a stain you can roll over wet wood are time-savers, whether you hire a pro or do the job yourself. Roughly 25 percent of homeowners paint their own house, and 75 percent do the deck.

Ace Hardware’s Royal Exteriors now rivals Home Depot’s Behr and Lowe’s Valspar, two of Consumer Reports’ top satin and semigloss paints. As with the Behr and Valspar, both Ace paints have a lifetime warranty and endured the equivalent of nine years outdoors without cracks. And at less than $30 per gallon, they cost up to $11 less. But the home center brands proved to be better at fending off dirt and mildew.

Home Depot is also facing tougher competition among the solid color deck stains that last longest and sell best at stores. Benjamin Moore’s Arborcoat Solid Deck and Siding, $46, looked better than Behr’s Solid Color Waterproofing Wood Stain after two years of tests, and it fared just as well after three. But the Behr still wins in the war against dirt and mildew, and it costs almost $20 less.

Consumer Reports’ relentless outdoor tests under broiling sun and freezing snow also confirm that even top-performing brands could leave you cold if you buy the wrong line or shop at the wrong store. Some time-savings claims didn’t deliver.

And if you think you’re fully covered by lifetime and other paint and stain warranties, think again. Outdoor testing shows that some paints and stains with similar warranties perform very differently. These tests are especially tough, but they suggest that some finishes could let you down quickly, regardless of warranty coverage.

How to choose

• Pick a paint based on your project. Flat and satin are what most people choose for siding, and semigloss adds sheen and contrast for trim.

Among stains, solids hide the beauty of the grain in exchange for longer life; clear finishes show it all, but usually last no longer than a year. A smart compromise: Semitransparent stains, which show some of the grain and can still look good after two years. Here’s what else to keep in mind as you’re shopping:

• Consider the store. Most of the best paints and stains that Consumer Reports tested still come from Behr, making Home Depot your one-stop shopping destination if you’re doing your house and deck. Its tests also found that the Glidden Premium Satin sold at Home Depot is generally a better bet than the Glidden Endurance Plus at Walmart, though the Walmart product is self-priming.

• Plan around promos and sales. Holiday weekends such as Memorial Day and Father’s Day can bring storewide discounts of 30 percent or more. You’ll also save year-round by buying 5-gallon containers instead of the usual gallon cans.

• Protect yourself. For houses built before 1978, any painter you hire must be trained in lead-safe practices and certified by the Environmental Protection Agency. If your deck was built before 2004, it could have been made with chromated copper arsenate, which contains arsenic. Hire a pro who can safely contain and remove flaking finishes and potentially harmful sanding dust. ]]>
Fri, 11 Jul 2014 16:09:18 -0400
<![CDATA[ New rules allow carry-over of flex funds ]]> http://www.buffalonews.com/business/money-smart/new-rules-allow-carry-over-of-flex-funds-20140714
New rules could make using the money even more flexible.

Officially known as flexible spending arrangements, FSAs let you set aside some of your pay, pretax, to cover out-of-pocket health costs. Roughly two-thirds of employers offer them, according to a report from the Society for Human Resource Management.

It used to be that an unspent balance in an FSA had to be forfeited at the end of the year. Even though many employers allowed an additional grace period of two and a half months, the risk of losing the funds made some people wary of using the accounts.

Late last year, however, the federal government changed the rules, giving employers the option to allow as much as $500 to be carried over in an FSA from one year to the next.

That means you do not have to worry about losing the money if it is not all spent before the end of the year; no more rushing out to buy a new pair of eyeglasses that you don’t really need. Employers must choose between offering the carry-over option or a grace period to their workers – they cannot offer both.

WageWorks, which manages pretax worker benefits for about 29,000 employers, expects roughly half of its clients to adopt the carry-over provision, based on research it conducted with Visa.

“In reality, there isn’t a logical reason why an employer wouldn’t take advantage of the carry-over provision,” said Joe Jackson, the company’s chief executive. Some employers, mostly smaller ones, have adopted it for this year, he noted. Employees can feel comfortable putting at least $500 into their accounts, he said, without worrying that they will forfeit it.

Steven G. Auerbach, chief executive of Alegeus Technologies, which administers such accounts, advises employers that adopt the carry-over option to educate employees about the change. The company’s research indicates that many consumers remain confused about the details of FSAs and other tax-advantaged savings options, like health savings accounts or HSAs.

HSAs, for instance, also allow pretax money to be set aside for health expenses, but are available only to workers who have certain health plans with high deductibles. Unlike the case with FSAs, the money in HSAs is portable; you keep it all if you don’t use it, without any cap, and it follows you to a new job.

One catch, however, is that you cannot have both an FSA and an HSA unless your flexible spending account is a “limited purpose” version, for covering costs like those for dental and vision care.

Edward I. Leeds, a lawyer specializing in employee benefits with Ballard Spahr in Philadelphia, said the Internal Revenue Service recently clarified that the restriction applied even if the only money left in an FSA was a carry-over from the previous year. That means that if you want to contribute to a health savings account next year, it’s not enough simply to decline to put new money into your FSA; you can’t have any money left over from the year before, either.

Here are some additional questions about flexible spending accounts:

Q. What if I have more than $500 remaining in my FSA at the end of the year?

A. If your employer adopts the carry-over option, you may not carry over more than $500; unspent balances over that amount will still be forfeited. And keep in mind that your employer can choose to set a carry-over limit below the $500 maximum.

Q. Does the carry-over rule affect FSA contribution limits?

A. No. The annual maximum is currently $2,500.

Q. Does the carry-over option apply to other types of flexible spending accounts, like those for child care or other dependent care costs?

A. No. It applies to health care FSAs only, according to the Society for Human Resource Management. ]]>
Fri, 11 Jul 2014 16:08:43 -0400 By Ann Carrns

New York Times

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<![CDATA[ Seven ways to spend less at the grocery store ]]> http://www.buffalonews.com/business/money-smart/seven-ways-to-spend-less-at-the-grocery-store-20140714
Consumer Reports’ recent survey of 27,208 readers reveals that Walmart, America’s largest grocer, is at the bottom of the food chain.

Consumer Reports offers this advice on the best ways to save:

• Compare unit prices. They’re on shelf tags beneath the products, and they’re the only way to know for sure which package size is the best deal per quart, ounce or sheet.

Bigger is usually cheaper, but not always. At a local A&P, Consumer Reports spotted side-by-side packages of Hampton Farms peanuts, one 8 ounces and the other 24 ounces. The unit price tags revealed that the smaller bag cost $2 per pound; the larger, $2.66.

• Try store brands. They account for about a quarter of all supermarket products and sell for 22 percent less, on average, than national brands. Seventy-eight percent of respondents who bought store brands said they were just as good, and Consumer Reports’ own tests have shown that’s often true.

• Consider warehouse clubs. They have everyday low prices, so you don’t have to wait for a sale.

But consider whether it makes sense for you to pay the membership and to buy in bulk – 20 pounds of flour or 500 feet of aluminum foil, for example. Other drawbacks to club shopping: minimal service, a limited selection and long checkout lines, according to the survey.

• Don’t pay for convenience. Prepped and precut commodities from watermelon to garlic can cost extra.

At a Price Chopper, portobello mushrooms were $12.79 per pound sliced and $4.99 per pound whole.

But sometimes it works the other way; packaged products are cheaper. Consumer Reports saw russet baking potatoes for $1.29 per pound sold individually but $2.99 for a 5-pound sack.

• Capitalize on coupons. In 2013, consumers saved $3.5 billion by using coupons for packaged goods. Manufacturers distributed more than 300 billion coupons that year but redeemed “only” 2.8 billion, according to Charles K. Brown, vice president of marketing for NCH Marketing Services, a coupon processing firm.

Don’t leave money on the table: Savings per purchase averaged $1.62, Brown says. For all the chatter about paperless coupons that are downloaded to smartphones, 91 percent of all coupons reached shoppers through newspaper inserts.

• Shop early in the sales cycle. Eleven percent of readers complained about stores being out of advertised specials. The problem was worst at Pick ‘n Save, Pathmark, Meijer and Tops. Consumer Reports has had the best luck finding the type of bargains prominent in circulars at the beginning of the cycle (usually Friday or Saturday).

• Be loyal. Many chains reserve their best deals for customers who enroll in loyalty- or bonus-card programs. And some have a fuel reward component; the typical discount is 10 cents a gallon at participating gas stations for each $50 spent at the store.

Other possible perks: rebates based on purchases (usually $5 for every $500), coupon doubling and buy-one-get-one-free specials, coupons toward future purchases and the ability for those 60 and older to get extra savings on certain days.

More than half of Consumer Reports’ survey respondents belonged to bonus-card programs. ]]>
Fri, 11 Jul 2014 15:52:53 -0400 cONSUMER rEPORTS

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<![CDATA[ Make the most of your grill ]]> http://www.buffalonews.com/business/money-smart/make-the-most-of-your-grill-20140714
But for manufacturers, these have not been the happiest of times. Sales are down in recent years, and prices have mostly stalled. That’s good news if you need a new gas grill.

Manufacturers have added premium features to midpriced models with only modest price increases. Grills such as the Broil-Mate 165154, $200, have electronic igniters, an often easier and more reliable way to fire up, and stainless-steel or coated cast-iron grates, which are usually better for searing and maintaining even grilling temperatures.

Some grates are reversible, with one side designed for enhanced searing, the other for cooking fatty foods with the promise of fewer flare-ups.

Infrared burners, such as the ones on the Kenmore 16136, $700, have been added for better searing and high-temperature cooking. Grills with more storage and prep space also mean less running back and forth to your kitchen to get supplies.

If you usually cook for a crowd, you may want a larger grill. To help you choose the one that meets your needs, keep in mind that manufacturers often count warming racks and searing burners in their measurements. And keep in mind that Consumer Reports shops where you shop, so you’ll find impressive and recommended grills whether you prefer home centers, Sears, Walmart or online retailers.

Looking to up your outdoor cooking menu beyond burgers and steak? Consumer Reports offers these three simple and inexpensive ways to add versatility to a basic grill:

• Smoky flavor without a smoker. Soak wood chips in water for an hour, drain and wrap in heavy-duty foil (1 cup per pouch). Hickory, oak, mesquite and pecan are some of the flavors available. Poke holes in the top of the pouches and put them under the grates above a burner. Use two for a midsized grill, four for a large. Turn the heat on high until the pouches smoke, then lower the heat to about 350 degrees. Check with a temperature gauge.

• Low and slow. Cook briskets, pork shoulders, other tough cuts of meat and whole fish or poultry on your grill. Start by preheating the grill. Once it’s warm, set one burner to high and turn off the other. Place the food over the burner that’s off. If you have a three- or four-burner grill, keep only the front and back or outside burners on; put the food over the burners that are off. Keep the lid closed to keep in the heat.

• Accessorize. The grill aisles at home centers and hardware stores are filled with pizza stones, baskets and rib racks. White pizza stones are harder to keep clean than darker ones, but all get blazing hot and require watching so that the pizza doesn’t burn.

Look for grill baskets with small holes to let juices drain and high sides so that shrimp, scallops and cut-up veggies, chicken and meat don’t fall out when you’re flipping them.

Before you head to the checkout with a rib rack, take it over to the grill display to make sure you can close the grill lid with the rack inside.

Consumer Reports’ tests have found that stainless-steel gadgets can be cleaned with steel wool or stainless cleaner. Porcelain-coated tools are more fragile, so use a plastic scrubber. ]]>
Tue, 8 Jul 2014 15:36:40 -0400 Consumer Reports

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<![CDATA[ 401(k) owners diversify ]]> http://www.buffalonews.com/business/money-smart/401k-owners-diversify-20140714
Paralyzed by arguably too many choices (or not enough good choices), 401(k) owners increasingly say they want more than just a lineup of investments. They want someone to put together a portfolio just for them and manage it at a lower cost than hiring a dedicated, traditional financial adviser.

“We know that for about 70 percent of (retirement plan) participants, the 401(k) is their primary source of retirement funds, and 80 percent of all participants say they want personalized advice” in how to invest and manage the money, said Steve Anderson, executive vice president of Schwab Retirement Plan Services.

Through data firms such as Morningstar, Financial Engines and Guided Choice, providers of 401(k) plans are allocating investments based not just on age – as in the hugely popular target-date mutual fund category – but on gender, marital status, state of residence, individual savings rate, the level of assets outside a 401(k) plan, and other factors.

It turns out, these factors do, indeed, make you and your nest egg different, the data firms suggest.

Morningstar provided sample portfolios on 11 hypothetical 50-year-olds planning for retirement.

Their annual salaries ranged from $25,000 to $100,000. Their current 401(k) balances ranged from $50,000 to $500,000. They saved from 5 to 15 percent of their annual salaries.

Some but not all are also enrolled in traditional pension plans.

If the 50-year-olds put their retirement funds into off-the-shelf target-date retirement mutual funds, on average their stock holdings would account for 67 percent of their retirement savings, according to Morningstar.

But the range among providers is huge, from 41 percent to 84 percent.

Consider a worker making $50,000 a year, and saving 5 percent of it, with accumulated savings of $500,000.

That person might only need to put about 55 percent of the money into stocks in order to have a fairly high likelihood of being able to replace his preretirement income (minus taxes and savings) with portfolio withdrawals and Social Security, the data firm said.

Another 50-year-old making $50,000 a year and saving 10 percent but who has less saved today – $200,000 – might be advised to hold about 60 percent of the portfolio in stocks, according to Morningstar.

Add in the cushion of a $15,000-a-year pension, and the stock recommendation moves to 65 percent.

Or consider a couple of 60-year-olds getting closer to retirement.

One is single, the other married. In sample portfolios from Financial Engines, both might end up with 63 percent invested in stocks, said David Weiskopf, a company spokesman.

But the single employee might also have a penchant for putting 20 percent into company stock – the limit in Financial Engines’ managed portfolios – while the married worker might want 20 percent in cash.

With those parameters, the model might recommend the single worker put 43 percent of the portfolio into a broad mix of stocks and 37 percent in bonds. Meanwhile, the married worker might get a recommendation to allocate 63 percent of the portfolio to stocks and the remaining 17 percent into bonds, Weiskopf said.

And although both would end up with 63 percent in stocks, the worker with the large cash position might have a higher allocation to riskier shares of small and emerging-markets companies, compared with fewer for the saver with the big pot of company stock.

In the end, participants in retirement plans will decide whether these managed portfolios are worth their fees, which range by employer and plan provider.

“By definition, target-date funds are one size fits all,” said David Blanchett, head of retirement research for Morningstar. “We can make them more personalized, but it always comes back to cost. What is it worth to participants?” ]]>
Tue, 8 Jul 2014 15:35:41 -0400 By Janet Kidd Stewart

Chicago Tribune

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<![CDATA[ Work from home offers are usually scams ]]> http://www.buffalonews.com/business/money-smart/work-from-home-offers-are-usually-scams-20140714
The letter, supposedly from a company called Mason Grace Enterprises in Manhattan, promised potential earnings of $2,900 to $5,000 every week for mailing the company’s special letters from home.

“Would that help you catch up with your bills and allow you to relax while enjoying the finer things in life?” the letter asked.

All the 78-year-old Lansing, Mich., man had to do was send $99 for enough letters to earn $490 a week. Or put up $299 to make $2,900 a week. Or if he really was ambitious, he could hand over $399 for “startup” costs to be able to make up to $5,000 a week.

You could pay by money order, cash or check.

“As you read this letter,” the mailing said, “we have no less than 500,000 letters stacked up to the ceiling in our two warehouses.”

By stuffing envelopes at home, the promise was that someone could be paid $10 for “each letter stuffed and returned to us per instructions.”

Work right out of the house?

“In your own home, yes,” Stringham said. “That’s what they said.”

What was Stringham’s reply?

“No, thank you,” he told me.

“If you’re in New York and you need some envelopes stuffed, do you send offers out to random people across the country?”

Stringham has no idea how he got on that mailing list, noting he receives all sorts of junk mail. But he found it interesting that another work-at-home offer recently popped into his mailbox, too.

The other deal offered to pay him $20 for each “Get Credit Now” booklet assembled at home, again, per the company’s instructions.

His startup cost? You pay them $99. That outfit was reportedly Preston Lord Enterprises in Basking Ridge, N.J.

Given that many people remain desperate to make extra cash, it never hurts to throw a bucket of reality on some too-hot-to-believe promises.

Did you spot the trick phrase in both of these letters? See the line that mentions you need to stuff the envelopes “per our instructions” to make money?

That’s the clue that you might not get paid for all that you do.

Maybe the company will argue that your work is not up to standard. Or there will be some other mix-up, according to warnings from the Federal Trade Commission.

After you’ve mailed the cash, the work-at-home company often does not pay you, according to the FTC. Your work never makes the grade and you lose the cash you sent to get in on the deal.

The FTC has warnings on a variety of home-based business opportunities that will go sour – chances to pay for the privilege of stuffing envelopes, ways to invest hundreds of dollars in a sign-making machine to make plastic signs that you won’t get paid to make, and chances to waste your hard-earned money on training for processing rebates.

Or maybe the work-at-home scheme involves medical billing or Internet searches. Again, it’s a scam.

Another warning: Never pay a fee to apply for a federal job or a postal office job.

The New Jersey acting attorney general and the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs took action on some work-at-home scams in 2013 in a crackdown called “Operation Empty Promises.”

The odds are really good with at-home opportunities that you’re going to spend far more out-of-pocket to get started than you’d ever have a chance to make.

The New Jersey investigation, which led to a settlement with Capital Enterprises, disclosed that only 45 of 13,000 customers at one company ever made more than $100 stuffing envelopes. The most anyone ever made was $520 over a 10-month period – nothing close to up to $5,000 or more weekly, as was promoted.

New Jersey regulators said David Brookman and his company Capital Enterprises also operated under the names Maxwell Scott Enterprises, Maxwell Scott, David Gates Enterprises, Warner Daniel and Preston Lord Enterprises.

The Better Business Bureau Serving Eastern Michigan reports that consumers need to be aware of such scams in which employers require fees for training or ask for money to conduct a background check. Another red flag: A company that touts “no experience needed.”

In some cases, consumers could pay for materials and supplies for an at-home business opportunity and the materials never arrive.

Sure, it may sound tempting to be your own boss at home and never have to pay for parking. And yes, it does sound good when you read a letter that says, “Stuffing and mailing letters is one of the easiest jobs in the world.”

But the reality is that stuffing envelopes could indeed make someone rich, but it won’t be you. ]]>
Tue, 8 Jul 2014 15:35:36 -0400 By Susan Tompor

Detroit Free Press

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<![CDATA[ As home automation grows, so does its vulnerability ]]> http://www.buffalonews.com/business/money-smart/as-home-automation-grows-so-does-its-vulnerability-20140714
What do you do? Do you go back home? Continue on your way and hope for the best? Or do you simply pull out your smartphone, open an app or two and make sure everything is OK? Convenience, control and peace of mind are the powerful combination that the newest smart products are selling.

With mainstream corporations such as Amazon, AT&T, Home Depot, Lowe’s, Staples and Verizon introducing smart products and services, this might actually be the year that home automation catches on in a big way – or at least becomes difficult to ignore, given those companies’ fat advertising budgets.

Product selection is growing, with 37 billion smart products expected on the market by the year 2020, says network hardware maker Cisco.

Already there: Ranges and ovens from Dacor and GE can be set to preheat during your drive home so you can get dinner on the table faster. A side-by-side fridge from Whirlpool texts you if a door is ajar, helping you save energy and prevent food from spoiling. Certain dryers can tell you if your dryer exhaust duct is clogged, which prolongs drying time, wastes energy and is a fire hazard. Appliances from Kenmore and LG can self-diagnose problems via your smartphone, potentially saving on repair costs or time waiting for the service technician.

The public is definitely intrigued. Almost 20 percent of Consumer Reports subscribers already use their phone or tablet to remotely control some of their home, and almost 70 percent of those who don’t voiced interest in doing so in the future, according to its latest survey. Thermostats, security systems, blinds, lighting and door locks are the home items readers most want to manage remotely.

Consumer Reports’ other findings:

Your Wi-Fi network is vulnerable. Even if the security settings on your home’s router limit access to devices you’ve authorized, you need to be just as careful about the security settings of each device you add to the network, whether it’s a whole-house suite of products controlling lighting, security and smoke or carbon monixide alarms, or just an Internet-enabled fork.

Otherwise, the device could allow hackers – and whomever they sell your data to – access to other connected products in your home, such as the computers on your home network.

In one cyberattack, about 100,000 products, such as routers, TVs and at least one connected refrigerator, sent out more than 750,000 phishing emails over two weeks, according to security consulting firm Proofpoint.

The blame: weaknesses in their basic protection or setup. Proofpoint would not disclose the model of fridge, suspecting the user hadn’t changed the default password, but not every smart device is even designed for high security.

Privacy can be a problem. An unconnected “dumb” gadget shares no information that you might prefer to keep to yourself, such as when your home is empty. But a smart thermostat might be less discreet, alerting hackers when it’s in vacation mode. Or the history log of a smart-lock app might let thieves learn when you usually get home from work without having to stake out your home.

You could bet on the wrong horse. Connectivity is still in its infancy, with no clear winner among competing technologies. So you can control a product via its app on your phone, but you’ll need multiple apps to control your household, which isn’t all that convenient.

The alternative, a suite of products from a single brand or that run on the same wireless standard, such as ZigBee or Z-Wave, leaves you vulnerable to potentially buying into the Betamax of smart products. ]]>
Tue, 8 Jul 2014 15:35:28 -0400 Consumer Reports

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<![CDATA[ The Color of Money by Michelle Singletary ]]> http://www.buffalonews.com/business/money-smart/the-color-of-money-by-michelle-singletary-20140714
Here are some topics that came up during my online chats from folks seeking advice about money situations close to home.

Q: My daughter has found herself in a situation where she has to move. Her credit is bad and she is having difficulty getting approved for an apartment. Should I co-sign? Moving back home is not an option.

Singletary: Do not co-sign.

I know you want to help. However, unless you are truly prepared to make her monthly rent payments, don’t do it. If her credit is bad, this is an indication that some financial issues are there already. Maybe it’s because she was irresponsible, maybe not (like she’s lost a job). But in either case, don’t link your finances with hers. Instead, help her explore various living options. Perhaps she can move in with a friend temporarily.

Q: Our 28-year-old daughter is entering a master’s program this fall and we anticipate she will require education loans. My wife and I are in our early 60s and expect to retire in three to five years. Should we co-sign an educational loan for our daughter if we are asked?

Singletary: Do not co-sign if you’re asked and certainly don’t offer.

Co-signing means you are borrowing too. You are not a backup borrower. And I would definitely not recommend it since you are so close to retiring – unless you have the money to pay the loans. And if you have the money to pay the loans, then just give it to her. (I don’t believe in loaning money. It can get complicated and/or ugly.) It’s not too late to encourage your daughter to work and save up to pay the cost of the program.

Q: Do you tell or have you told anyone in your family about your net worth? Until my spouse let it slip to a sibling (I am a very private person about money), only our broker knew how healthy our assets were. Am I being silly to like to keep the information private?

Singletary: You are not being silly. And absolutely no, I do not tell folks what my net worth is, certainly not family. It’s none of their business. Besides, in some families the more they know, the more they may press you for money.

Q: I have a 3-year-old daughter with my ex-boyfriend. He did not want to be involved, but his mom does. We see my daughter’s grandmother about once a month. One of my daughter’s favorite dishes is green bean casserole. During a holiday meal, the grandmother insisted on giving it a whirl. Little did I know that she had put bacon in it (she knows my daughter and I are allergic to pork).

My daughter ate about half of it before her face and lips started to swell. Fortunately I had her medication with me. She was rushed to the hospital where they administered more medication. I received a hospital bill for $3,000. I think my daughter’s grandmother should pay the bill, but she refuses. Her excuse was that it was only a few slices of bacon in the recipe, and she didn’t believe me when I said we were allergic because in the past I served bacon to her. But it was turkey bacon.

How do I go about this?

Singletary: The fact that the grandmother knew about the food allergy and still put bacon in the dish leaves me stunned. I would be mad too. Even if she thought you were overstating the issue, why take the risk? She is absolutely responsible and should pay any part of the bill not covered by insurance.

You asked. And you were in the right to ask. However, since she refuses, unless you take her to small claims court, you are stuck with the bill.

Q: I have a friend who regularly gives my husband, me and our daughter very expensive gifts. We cannot afford to come close to her generosity in return, though I wish we could. Should I say something about our budget or just continue to thank her profusely?

Singletary: Give sincere and heartfelt thanks and say nothing more. ]]>
Tue, 8 Jul 2014 10:49:21 -0400
<![CDATA[ Three years in, the future of Google Plus remains unclear ]]> http://www.buffalonews.com/business/technology/three-years-in-the-future-of-google-plus-remains-unclear-20140714
That hasn’t happened. But experts say Google Plus has served a valuable purpose for the giant Internet company as the centerpiece of a broader strategy to create a unified profile for each person who uses any of Google’s online products – the better to deliver more targeted advertising, which is highly profitable for Google.

And despite speculation fueled by the resignation of longtime Google Plus boss Vic Gundotra, the company says it has no plans to abandon the service.

“Reports of our death have been greatly exaggerated,” said David Besbris, a Google engineering vice president who took over Google Plus when Gundotra, a senior vice president, left the company three months ago.

In his first public comments to a reporter since Gundotra’s departure, Besbris said in an emailed statement to the San Jose Mercury News that Google Plus has “hundreds of millions of users (and growing).” He vowed: “We’re committed to building a product that people absolutely love. So no, Google isn’t giving up on Google Plus.”

Google says this helps the company provide a “more consistent experience” to users – for example, by anticipating that you want directions on Google Maps for the restaurant you found with Google’s search engine, then letting you review the meal on Google Plus.

Analysts say it also lets the company compile a more complete picture of a user’s habits or interests, by recognizing them on a variety of services and devices, which in turn helps Google show more relevant advertising. The biggest part of Google’s $60 billion in annual revenue comes from ads tied to Internet searches, but it’s increasingly selling other types of online ads, too.

“The more they can combine what they know about people, across all different channels, the better understanding they have for each user, and that’s vital to their ad sales efforts,” said Forrester Research analyst Nate Elliott. When combined, he said, Google’s broad range of apps and services may provide more information than Facebook can glean from its users’ likes and updates.

Besbris, who led the engineering team that built Google Plus, posts regularly on the social network and likes to share photos he’s taken of flowers and other things that catch his eye. In his statement, he offered few specifics about his goals for the service, but said he wants to “build on our momentum, build a product that people absolutely love, and make Google Plus the place for meaningful conversations online.”

It’s difficult to gauge how many people are having those conversations. Enthusiasts use Google Plus for photo-sharing, video chats and sometimes passionate debates. But it’s never come close to Facebook’s popularity as a digital town square.

“Once in a while, I meet people who are like, ‘Google Plus is my life.’ But I think it’s mostly a small group,” said Chris Abraham, a digital marketing consultant and avid social media user. Abraham said he gets little response when he shares items on Google Plus. He believes many users simply repost items they’ve already put on Facebook or other sites.

Google hasn’t released any user statistics since October, when it said 540 million people worldwide used Google Plus credentials to sign in or post comments on any Google service in the previous month. A smaller group of 300 million visited “the stream” of Google Plus itself, but even that figure counts people who merely click the red Google Plus symbol that can appear on-screen while using other Google services, causing a short list of updates to appear in the corner.

By comparison, Facebook boasts 1.28 billion monthly active users worldwide, although that reportedly includes people who click a Facebook icon to “like” or share something they find on another site while signed into Facebook.

Nielsen researchers use stricter definitions to estimate that 27.4 million U.S. residents visited the Google Plus website in April and 45.6 million opened its smartphone app, with some overlap between the two. Nielsen’s estimates for Facebook were 117.8 million U.S. users on the website and 116.7 million on the mobile app, also with some overlap.

Google Plus always faced an uphill battle against the more established Facebook, said Charlene Li, a social media expert and founder of research firm Altimeter Group. “If your friends are not on Google Plus, and likely they’re not, you’re going to go on Facebook.”

Still, the number of Google Plus active users is roughly the same size as those on another service – Twitter, according to both Nielsen and Forrester Research. And while there’s no direct advertising on Google Plus, said Forrester’s Elliott, companies that maintain a page on Google Plus have more online interactions with their followers than they do on Twitter.

“Google Plus is actually a useful social site” for companies to promote their brands, he said, but “even Google doesn’t seem to understand the value of Google Plus as a standalone property.”

Altimeter’s Li said the future may lie elsewhere. While Google already operates a variety of apps and services, she noted that Facebook is building and buying a stable of stand-alone apps that let people directly share pictures, news items and messages with their friends – all without visiting Facebook’s main site.

“The idea of a destination site, like the Google Plus page,” she said, “is getting kind of antiquated. ]]>
Mon, 7 Jul 2014 15:32:38 -0400 By Brandon Bailey

San Jose Mercury News

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<![CDATA[ How to keep prying eyes away from your online life ]]> http://www.buffalonews.com/business/technology/how-to-keep-prying-eyes-away-from-your-online-life-20140714
With the revelations from Edward Snowden of widespread spying by the government, many people are more interested in cloaking their online activities. Even if you’re not worried about the government reading your email or getting access to your browsing history, there are plenty of other reasons why you might want financial, legal or health information private and secure, whether from unscrupulous hackers or online marketers.

Here are some key technologies you can use to protect your online activities:

Tor

This is a set of linked pieces of software that helps to cloak users’ online identities. “Tor” stands for “the onion router,” a name that is emblematic of the layers of protections the software uses to anonymize users.

When users seek Web pages through a Tor-enabled browser, their requests are encrypted and then go through a random series of computers on the Internet. Each computer, which has been set up by volunteers, relays the requests until they reach their end destination. Thanks to the design of the system, none of the relays nor the end server knows both who requested the Web page or what Web page was being requested.

Tor has been used by everyone from whistle-blowers to cyber-thieves to disguise their identity. It helps prevent people from learning what sites you visit or where you live. It’s mostly used for accessing the Web, but the underlying relay network also can be used for instant messaging, email and other Internet applications.

Of the three encryption technologies discussed here, Tor is by far the easiest to set up and use. On a PC or an iPhone, you simply have to install one application. On an Android phone, you’ll need to install two.

Although it’s easy to configure, Tor does come with some frustrations that could limit how much you want to use it. The main drawback is that because requests go through multiple computers, some of them located half a world away, loading Web pages can be very slow, making your broadband connection feel like it’s the dial-up Internet.

Because the relay network is global and your Internet address appears to be the one from the last server that relays your request, the websites you access may think you are a resident of Germany or Japan or someplace other than where you live. So some websites, such as Google or eBay, may show you pages in a language other than English.

OpenPGP

This is the open source version of PGP, aka Pretty Good Privacy, the famed encryption software designed by Phil Zimmerman that the federal government attempted to restrict and compromise. The software is used to encode communications, typically email, using a system of public and private “keys.”

Users publish their public keys on their websites and on servers that act as repositories. The public keys are used by OpenPGP software to encrypt messages that can only be opened with their corresponding private keys, which, as their name implies, are held only by their creators.

Encryption only works if both sides of a conversation use it. Even if you have OpenPGP installed, your outgoing messages won’t be encoded unless you know and use your correspondents’ public keys. Likewise, none of your incoming messages will be encoded unless those writing to you know and use your public keys.

Installing and configuring OpenPGP can be a complicated process that involves the installation, not only of software that supports the technology, but also potentially a plug-in for your mail client. You’ll also need to generate and publish your keys and protect them with a password.

Once you have everything configured, you can connect with key servers to find and download other users’ public keys. And whichever mail program you are using should indicate whether you are sending an encrypted message.

Note that the recommended way to use OpenPGP is with a mail client, like Outlook. That means that if you are used to checking your mail through a webmail interface, you’ll need to change your habits. It also means that if you use multiple computers, you’ll have to configure each one to use OpenPGP. That can be a time-consuming process, in part because to read messages encoded with the same key on all your computers, you’ll need to copy the key and import it on each one of them.

Right now, OpenPGP is not easy to use on smartphones. You’ll find programs on the iPhone, for example, that will store your private key and allow you to use it to open encoded messages, but they often require you to copy the message and paste it into a separate decoding app.

OTR

Also known as Off-The-Record, OTR is encryption for instant messages. It scrambles the content of messages so that they can only be read by the sender and the recipient and not by any messaging service provider or anyone who may intercept the messages.

OTR basically acts as a plug-in to a messaging client. The client allows you to connect to various messaging services – Google Talk, Facebook chat, Yahoo Messenger – and OTR allows you to put an encoded wrapper around any messages you send through those services.

Security experts advise using Pidgin as the messaging client on Windows computers and Adium on Macs. Adium has built-in support for OTR, while Pidgin users will have to install the OTR plug-in separately. Android and iPhone users can install ChatSecure, which includes support for OTR. All three messaging clients support multiple chat networks, so you can use them in place of dedicated apps for Facebook chat or AIM.

As with OpenPGP, OTR only works if both sides of a conversation are using it. But once it is installed, OTR will typically attempt to make a secure connection automatically. ]]>
Mon, 7 Jul 2014 15:13:42 -0400 By Troy Wolverton

San Jose Mercury News

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<![CDATA[ Niagara County Real Estate Transactions ]]> http://www.buffalonews.com/city-region/niagara-county-real-estate-transactions-20140713
• 3332 Upper Mountain Road, Steven C. Hayes; Christa R. Lands to Marie Giambrone; John Giambrone, $126,000.

HARTLAND

• Ridge Road, Kathryn M. Lester; Lawrence R. O’Shea; Kathryn M. Lester-O’Shea; Kathryn M. Collins to Bryan E. Warren, $44,000.

• 8003 Ridge Road, Household Finance Realty Corp. to Scott S. Gamelin; Patricia M. Applebee, $36,000.

LEWISTON

• Raymond Drive, George Herman; Maria E. Herman to Brenden W. Gee; Amanda R. Amendola-Gee, $279,900.

• Raymond Drive, Thomas F. Lynch to Nathalie Dumaine; Pascal Allard, $235,250.

• Hewitt Parkway, Ronda Koban-Sortore; David A. Sortore to Sandra J. Lebrake; Timothy R. O’Grady, $235,000.

• 620 Cayuga St., Diana S. Strablow to Kathleen R. Opera; John L. Opera, $170,000.

• Mohawk St., Kathy L. Ullery; James F. Ullery to Sara Cotillard; Christopher Cotillard, $129,000.

• 5th St., Mary Elizabeth Mroziak; John Edward Piecuil to Paula Copland; Christopher Copland, $45,000.

• Creek Road, Christine J. Coppins; Richard T. Coppins to Barbara Lauzonis; Joseph W. Lauzonis Jr., $20,000.

LOCKPORT Highest price: $2,350,000 Average price: $312,504 Median price: $74,000 Number of Sales: 9

• Beattie Ave., Lebrun Estate Llc to Niagara Villas Inc, $2,350,000.

• 81 Carolina Ave., Renee M. Locke to James T. Smith, $93,000.

• Gaffney Road, Erika Laport to Heather E. Smith, $87,000.

• Grove Ave., Roland L. Robison; Ann C. Sy to Luciann Kelley, $75,000.

• Massachusetts Ave., Emily Wronski; Anthony C. Wronski to Lauri Boyd, $74,000.

• 143 Olcott St., Rosemary Fraser; Thomas M. Rongo; Rosemary Rongo to Fannie Mae, $71,434.

• 363 North Transit St., Sue Chadderdon; Sue A. Slater to Fannie Mae, $41,000.

• 38 Franklin Ave., First Niagara Bank to Steven A. Manna, $15,099.

• Allen St., John P. Soto to Saundra Zysek, $6,000.

TOWN OF LOCKPORT Highest price: $262,000 Average price: $167,450 Median price: $174,000 Number of Sales: 10

• Old Beattie Road & Vintage Court, Colleen P. Forsythe; Donald W. Forsythe to Paolo Chiappina; Kimberly Jones Chiappina, $262,000.

• Woodmore Court, Robin M. Shea; Brian D. Shea to Michele Martin; John W. Martin, $227,500.

• 6421 Cherrywood Lane, Helen Joura; Jonathan Joura to National Residential Nominee Services Inc., $183,500.

• 6421 Cherrywood Lane, National Residential Nominee Services Inc. to Samantha Ross Meyer; Robert Gilbert Meyer, $183,500.

• Stone Road, Carol Ann Gala to Susan M. Hohl; Dale T. Hohl, $179,000.

• Jeffrey Drive, James T. Smith; Heather E. Smith to Cory Ezak, $169,000.

• Wilson Road, Lynn Kuhns; Richard I. Kuhns to Jacklyn M. Pomeroy, $150,000.

• Ambleside Road, Steven M. Delahunt; Erica J. Delahunt to Carol A. Gala, $145,000.

• Worthington Ridge Condo, Unit 4809-C, Cambridge Drive, Jacklyn M. Brauer to Kristopher Kander, $99,000.

• Lincoln Ave. & Akron Road, Kristen Borawski; Kristen Dirschberger to Randall J. Smith Jr., $76,000.

NEWFANE

• Ridge Road, Charlene Scrufari to Brian R. Moran; Dawn E. Moran, $255,000.

NIAGARA FALLS Highest price: $130,000 Average price: $47,766 Median price: $31,500 Number of Sales: 8

• 515 3rd St., McConn Inc. to Caravan Motel Inc., $130,000.

• 1347 Norwood Ave., John F. Salada to Household Finance Realty Corp., $80,625.

• 830 Chilton Ave., KC Erie Niagara Properties to DHGF Llc, $46,500.

• 2483 Niagara Ave., Redbird Properties to DHGF Llc, $36,000.

• Elmwood Ave., Christopher Plennert to Suman Rani Gupta, $27,000.

• 2215 Linwood Ave., Keith A. Canazzi to Phillip Naftali Llc, $26,500.

• 9th St. & Walnut Ave., David Buell to Wing Properties, $22,500.

• 1522 Elmwood Ave., Bayview Loan Servicing to Wing Properties, $13,000.

NORTH TONAWANDA Highest price: $260,000 Average price: $122,349 Median price: $105,000 Number of Sales: 14

• Selkirk Drive, Charles E. Mye; Barbara J. Mye to Brian N. Gabriel; Katie L. Gabriel; Thomas J. Sarkovics; Elizabeth A. Sarkovics, $260,000.

• Wheatfield St., Lori A. Mallone; Fred P. Mallone Jr. to Matthew S. Smolinski, $175,000.

• Fairmont Ave., Robin Dickinson; Kent A. Dickinson to Edward May; Lorraine May, $163,000.

• Dangelo Drive, Susan M. Hohl; Dale T. Hohl to Louis S. Volpe; Karen E. Kane, $148,500.

• 220 Bryant St., Jeremy V. Sharpe; Courtney B. Sharpe to Nationstar Mortgage, $114,379.

• Meadow Drive South, Peter A. Figlioti Jr. to Lindsay M. Popovice, $109,000.

• 1464 Master St., Janice M. Toporek to Heather L. Brooks, $105,000.

• East Felton St., James W. Ziegler; Carol A. Ziegler to Bonnie Roberts; Joshua G. Roberts, $105,000.

• Ruie Road, Joel M. Ruffino to Clarita C. Waterman, $100,700.

• Payne Ave., Mark Augustine to Stacy M. Murray; Benjamin D. Murray, $99,500.

• Stanley St., Linda Lee Soos; Linda Lee Jufer to Anna M. Huckabone; Ryann R. Setlock, $91,000.

• North Jesella Drive, Kristina Zornick-Sulkowski; Stephen Sulkowski to Nicole M. Clare, $84,800.

• Hagen Ave., E. Ralph Kennedy; Edward R. Kennedy; Maureen A. Jacobs; Patrick R. Kennedy; Michael J. Kennedy; Carol Kennedy to Dennis E. Covell; Lauren R. Covell, $82,000.

• Sherwood Ave., Jeanise Paxson; Benjamin Szathmary; Jeanise Szathmary to Sandra V. Bruning, $75,000.

PENDLETON

• East Canal Road, Kim Marie Tucker Urban to Jennifer L. Topick; Jason P. Topick, $272,000.

• 4376 Mapleton Road, R.S. Seiler Homes Llc to Gavin Mariano, $236,000.

• Alexander Parkway Hunters Creek Condo, Thomas Cina to Terry L. Hohl, $205,000.

• Fisk Road, Peg-Sam Inc. to Molly H. Randle; Kent A. Randle, $48,000.

PORTER

• River Road, Douglas Warren Fowler to Felix C. Reinberg, $375,000.

ROYALTON

• Townline Road, Rose J. Bova to Tammy L. Walden; Robert C. Walden, $219,900.

• Chestnut Ridge Road, Ellen Marie Genet; Anthony C. Ben to Ryan J. Eick, $123,000.

• 45 State St., Kimberly E. Sucrese; Brian M. Sucrese to JP Morgan Chase Bank, $82,300.

WHEATFIELD

• Moyer Road, Shane Sweeney to John C. Cotton; Teresa R. Cotton, $362,900.

• 3269 Niagara Falls Blvd., Vincent P. Mangione to Daniel K. Yeager; Stephen A. Christiano, $280,000.

• Nickett Drive, Kathleen Dixon; Donald R. Reed Jr. to John D. Mastracci, $92,667.

• Nickett Drive, Marianne Reed; John P. Reed to John D. Mastracci, $46,333.

WILSON

• New Road, Lynn A. Moore; David L. Moore to Elena Golyadkina; Alexey Golyadkin, $190,000. ]]>
Sat, 12 Jul 2014 13:57:56 -0400
<![CDATA[ Erie County Real Estate Transactions ]]> http://www.buffalonews.com/city-region/erie-county-real-estate-transactions-20140713
• 1 Sylvan Parkway, Betty J. Klawer to William G. Fryer; Jodi M. Fryer, $172,000.

• 5 Madison Ave., Judith Hutson to Robert A. Massaro II, $113,420.

ALDEN

• 1707 Crittenden Road, Judith H. Morris to Thomas A. Roll, $90,000.

AMHERST Highest price: $500,000 Average price: $186,233 Median price: $158,000 Number of Sales: 47

• 178 Arcadian Drive, Alexis R. Mecca; Ryan J. Mecca to Rachel Holt; Peter J. Holt, $500,000.

• 135 Hampton Hill Drive, Frances A. Frank to Christopher Divincenzo; Laura A. Divincenzo, $420,000.

• 23 McKinley Ave., Jennie Scott; Jennie E. Scott to Michael R. Scott, $400,000.

• 6845 Main St., Jennie Scott; Jennie E. Scott to Michael R. Scott, $400,000.

• 554 Tiburon Lane, Terry Moore; Susan E. Moore to Jean Milliken Sabol; David B. Sabol, $340,000.

• 225 Lord Byron Lane, Helen Nazareth; Michael Nazareth to Jinwoo Park; Ji-Won Son, $310,000.

• 64 Halwill Drive, Ellen T. Cooper to Francis William Lawvere; Fatima Y. Lawvere, $299,900.

• 80 Boxelder Lane, Marrano/Marc Equity Corporation to Matthew G. Mooney; Monica L. Mooney, $269,000.

• 210 Glen Oak Drive, Alan F. Weston; Jane A. Weston to Jenna M. Turner; William W. Turner III, $255,000.

• 47 Primrose Lane, Robert R. Saviola to Christopher M. Walters; Laura A. Beitz-Walters; Donald G. Beitz, $247,900.

• 177 Halwill Drive, Fraser M. Mooney; Lucile K. Mooney to Matthew P. Walla; Elizabeth C. Walla, $218,000.

• 8 Barberry Lane, Kamila Mysiak-Nalecz; Matthew A. Nalecz to Craig W. Tyson; Jenna L. Tyson, $218,000.

• 4297 Harlem Road, Omar M. Abu-Sitta; Heather L. Abu-Sitta to Christopher S. Kozlowski, $216,600.

• 57 Ranch Trail, Tracy R. Tomasi; Tracy R. Coccia; Rafael P. Coccia; Terace R. Coccia; Terace R. Tomasi; Ralph P. Coccia to Jin Ying Lin; Zeng Dan Huang, $215,100.

• 150 Noel Drive, Michael P. Libassi; Joyce M. Libassi to Jin Ming Lin, $200,200.

• 207 Hedstrom Drive, Timothy N. Glassbrook; Katherine N. Glassbrook to Scott C. Lindsay; Melissa J. Brady, $190,000.

• 418 Sherbrooke Ave., Genevieve Melandinidis to Tina M. Schultz, $188,000.

• 1354 Dodge Road, Margaret M. Scherer to Janet Roberts, $185,000.

• 612 Forest Edge Drive, Amy J. Brown; Donna L. Brown to David R. Schulenberg, $177,000.

• 5 Willow Green Drive, Rosemarie Smith; Carl L. Smith to Ben Deng Zhu; Xue Qin Zhu; Zai Wei Zhu, $165,800.

• 790 Klein Road, Mildred E. Hereth to Liong Lee; Enna Lee, $165,000.

• 70 Sunrise Blvd., Alessandro Greco to Joy Crouch; Mark D. Crouch, $161,000.

• 314 Berryman Drive, Lyn Cheney; Lyn R. Lanzillo to Alec Ralston Cheney; Mary C. Cheney, $160,000.

• 88 Pheasant Run, Erin Graham; Michael Graham to En Yu, $158,000.

• 276 Ridgewood Drive, Marie A. Boccio to Michael P. Laurenzi; Sara J. Meka, $152,000.

• 61 Lake Ledge Drive, Lois J. Culkin to Laurie A. Kennedy, $146,000.

• 105 Lamarck Drive, Dorothy Rodems Kunz to George J. Kunz Jr., $144,948.

• 10 Margaret Road, Jack I. Reich; Patricia S. Reich to Elizabeth Johnson; Daniel Johnson, $142,000.

• 294 Ridgewood Drive, Kevin Durawa to Ann Marie Zehler, $140,000.

• 902 Winterset Court, Thomas J. Hanifin to Thomas J. Hanifin III, $138,000.

• 92 Tomcyn Drive, Pedro A. Rivera to Ralph Dailey, $135,000.

• 237 Hedstrom Drive, Patricia Mary Doyle to Sam Chiang, $132,000.

• 93 Homer Lane, Donna Oleszek to Patricia Doyle, $132,000.

• 620 Youngs Road, Samuel J. Guida to Lauren L. Paella; Mark D. Paella, $130,000.

• 40 Ruth Ave., Ray P. Haggerty; Mary A. Haggerty to Judy Fuentes; William Fuentes, $129,900.

• 3525 Millersport Highway, Patricia J. Lipinski; Casimer E. Lipinski Jr. to Cindy L. Mertel; Ronald E. Mertel, $125,000.

• 213 Niagara Falls Blvd., Ruth E. Manta; Donald E. Manta to Jamil S. Haider, $123,500.

• 17 Manning Road, Mark L. Davis to Kenneth R. Banaszak, $120,000.

• 232 Evans St., Donald Obenauer; Donald H. Obenauer to Ralph Dailey, $113,500.

• 1350 Maple Road, Michelle L. Cohen to Rena-Rae Kaufman; Kathleen A. Doody, $109,900.

• 5854 Main St., Zaine M. Joseph to Jonathan O’Rourke; Colleen A. O’Rourke, $105,000.

• 9J Beacon Park, Robert C. Imbs; Sheryl C. Imbs to Shelley C. Imbs, $99,000.

• 82 Cadman, Rebecca L. Sharp to Heather Cahill, $92,500.

• 46 Sunrise Blvd., Harry E. Nolan Jr. to Philip W. Victor; Leslie M. Victor, $85,000.

• 136B Foxberry Drive, Alexandra Papantoniou; Andrew M. Papantoniou to Jon R. Cooper II, $78,500.

• 44 Waterway Lane, Cimato Enterprises Inc. to Ryan Homes of New York; Nvr Inc., $66,700.

• 61-C Georgian Lane, U8, Bruce S. Zeftel; Barbara J. Delgross to Diane Brady; Stephen Brady, $53,000.

AURORA/EAST AURORA

• 2525 Farrier Lane, Unit 40, Legacy Polo Grounds to Carole A. Greenauer, $359,900.

• 10 Reed Hill Drive & 12 Creekview Court, Jewett Holmwood Llc to Wetzl Development, $205,200.

• 187 Olean St., Christina E. Sage to Dawn E. Raczka; Ronald A. Vanostrand, $130,000.

• 5 Tunbridge Walk, Suzanne N. Koch to Margaret Passmore, $115,000.

BOSTON

• 7302 Boston State Road, Dominic H. Tomasello to Angelo Caruana; Deborah M. Weiler, $248,000.

• 6048 Thornwood Drive, Southwestern Enterprises to Charles J. Dias; Stephanie M. Dias, $198,000.

• 9411 Boston State Road, William R. Patrick; Dianne M. Patrick to Douglas J. Salgot; Hannah G. McMahon, $169,000.

• 9398 State Road, Edward J. Nowak to Peter L. Spinks, $100,000.

BUFFALO Highest price: $1,145,000 Average price: $115,018 Median price: $45,500 Number of Sales: 82

• 71 Middlesex Road, Theodore B.K. Walsh; Amy L. Clifton to Jacquelyn M. Gurney; William H. Gurney, $1,145,000.

• 2001 Elmwood Ave., Buffalo-Elmwood Associates to Autozone Northeast Inc., $800,000.

• 1096 Elmwood Ave., William M. Masset to Man Cave Investors, $700,000.

• 31 Tonawanda St., T Street Development Corp. to 31 Tonawanda Street Llc, $500,000.

• 779 Elmwood Ave., Sheila Dunn to Akers Property Services, $326,000.

• 402 Woodward Ave., Margaret L. Brady to Craig Rudzinski; Maureen C. Rudzinski, $309,000.

• 100 & 111 Leroy Ave. & 45 Jewett Ave., Phoenix Frontier Inc.; Morris L. Horwitz to Tri-Main Development; Jewett Management, $300,000.

• 47-49 St. Paul St., Bonita Whitlock to 1238 Group Llc, $280,000.

• 536 Potomac, Kathryn A. Morris; Michael R. Morris to Sirva Relocation Properties, $274,700.

• 536 Potomac, Sirva Relocation Properties to Emily Catan; Justin Catan, $274,700.

• 12 Wellington, Mary Ellen Opalinski to Jonathan Baird, $219,700.

• 737 Parkside Ave., George Kelly A. San; Kelly A. Noah to Dominick C. Lanuti, $217,500.

• 304 Wellington, Rosetta Raimondi; Giuseppe Raimondi to Robert A. Stowers, $215,000.

• 32 Wingate, Jamie R. Sangeorge; Jaime R. Sangeorge; David J. Genovese to Brendan M. Neill; Marissa E. Nossick, $213,500.

• 307 Wellington Road, Edith Froehlich; Walter Froehlich to Christopher L. Hayes, $205,000.

• 31 Manchester Place, Josephine Bagarozzo; John J. Bertola; Ann C. Bertola; Ralph A. Bagarozzo to Gregory J. Kacko; Christine A. Kacko, $195,000.

• 89 Treehaven Road, Albert A. Burruano to Wells Fargo Home Equity Asset-Backed Securities; HSBC Bank, $180,903.

• 13 Calumet Place, 203 Riverside Ave., 238 East St., 40 Laforce Place, 47 Royal Ave., 48 Tuxedo Place, 64 Royal Ave., Efraym Greenburg; Efraym Greenberg; Efryaim Greenberg to Menachem Tauber, $175,000.

• 147 Sixteenth St., Michelle Scrivani; Rosalie A. Cottone; Gerald F. Cottone Jr. to John Gerken Jr.; Andrew Gerken, $101,000.

• 133 Blaine Ave., Anitra Hill; Samuel E. Hill III to Andrew Melisz, $100,000.

• 132 Knox Ave., Elmwood-Franklin School Inc. to Dandee Car Wash, $95,000.

• 45 Fairchild Place, Nicholas L. Locicero; Dennis J. Johnson to Wells Fargo Bank, $90,000.

• 136 Aldrich Place, Brandon C. Block to Susan Gruber; Jordan Celej, $88,000.

• 41 & 65 & 67 Louisiana, C. Paul Scheer; Mary D. Scheer to Lucas Bunt, $82,500.

• 74 Merrimac St., Robert Shevlet to Andrew J. Sauer, $82,000.

• 69 West Northrup, BPM Properties to Andrew J. Sauer, $72,000.

• 151 Cable St., Central Development Group Inc. to Jacqueline Jajkowski, $70,000.

• 227 Minnesota Ave., Keith M. Hughes; Julie A. Hughes to Wayne Besch; Patricia Besch, $70,000.

• 37 Junior Ave., Teresa Perger to Dominic Bochicchio; Leah Horden, $70,000.

• 80 Downing St., Michael Gusmann to Aubrey E. Byerly, $63,600.

• 43 Kopernik St., Catherine Mistretta to Gualberto C. Rodriguez, $57,000.

• 57 Macamley St., Jason Eschberger to Parker Galvin, $56,500.

• 84 Weaver St., William Clough to Joshua J. Alessio, $55,500.

• 207 Cazenovia, Cheryl Vicario to Ronald Villagomez, $55,000.

• 151 & 155 Theodore St., Jason Rajesh Jadoo to Mohammed Hasanur Rahman, $54,000.

• 116 Densmore St., Anne E. Browne to Patrick J. Browne, $52,000.

• 54 Wheelock St., Gary P. Janis; Dennis P. Janis to Linda Kiekbusch, $51,000.

• 512-514 Busti, Carmelo Carrion to Front Park Property Management Inc., $50,000.

• 253 North Ogden St., Bradley T. Sinski to Jamie L. Janczylik, $48,000.

• 35 Highgate, Ho V. Nguyen to Tho Pham, $48,000.

• 410 East Ferry St., Marcin Burak to Rani Pena, $48,000.

• 66 Goulding, Wing Properties to DHGF Llc, $43,000.

• 72 Grimes, Yitzy & Maish Llc to Claudine Rina Kalfon, $43,000.

• 487 Shirley Ave., Deployment Scale to Eugene Barker; Stephanie Warner, $42,500.

• 99 Briggs, Keith Canazzi to DHGF Llc, $40,000.

• 430 Seventh, Jose Colon to Carmelo Carrion, $37,000.

• 116 Dunlop Ave., Sharon E. Schmitt; Kenneth M. Schmitt to Daniel Summers, $34,000.

• 1602 Fillmore Ave., Bison Claremont Associates Inc. to 1600 FB Lp, $33,500.

• 13 Peoria St., Phyllis A. Horton to Jonathon R. Krentz; Stephanie L. Krentz, $31,000.

• 203 Florida, BNYP Properties to Glebova Realty Group, $31,000.

• 569 Plymouth Ave., Luis M. Martinez; Carmen T. Martinez to Medina Hector Ramon Rosado, $30,000.

• 603 West Utica St., Hong Wang to Abbotsinch Llc, $30,000.

• 85 Haven St., Alan R. Yates; Alison E. Yates to Glebova Realty Group, $28,500.

• 124 Riverside, BNYP Properties to Glebova Realty Group, $28,000.

• 24 Alsace Ave., Teresa E. Lenox; William C. Lenox Jr. to BBM Real Estate Holdings, $26,000.

• 195 Roebling Ave., Ernest W. Bates; Michael G. O’Rourke to Wells Fargo Bank, $25,500.

• 122 Germain St., Fraidel R. Greenberg to Menachem Tauber, $25,000.

• 191 Clarene Ave., CVS Buffalo Properties to Sabina Yasmin, $25,000.

• 270 Dewitt, Tmaria Llc to Glebova Realty Group, $25,000.

• 377 Cambridge, Kaila Capitol Group; Sukdev Hundal to Theodis Fields, $25,000.

• 724 Jefferson, Lillian Berry to Ghore Inc., $25,000.

• 105 Keystone St., RVB Properties to Ashley Washington; Charles Washington, $24,500.

• 222 Gibson St., Triple Deuce Tavern Inc. to Muhammad M. Rahman, $23,000.

• 625 East Utica, Caffery Llc to Glebova Realty Group, $23,000.

• 197 Parkdale Ave., Robert G. Price to Vincent Eli Price; Robert G. Price, $20,000.

• 26 Matthews, City of Buffalo Urban Renewal Agency to Burke Homes, $20,000.

• 267 Kehr St., Philip B. Goldsmith to Hooks Handyman Service, $20,000.

• 200 Hagen, Betty Taylor to Shohre Zahedi; Zahe Shohre; Farhad Raiszadeh, $19,000.

• 154 Normal, Tmaria Llc to Glebova Realty Group, $18,000.

• 61 Goembel, Michael G Lyons to John Cavanaugh, $18,000.

• 103 Edison Ave., Kristin Marra; Michael Semple to Soundview Home Loan; Deutsche Bank, $17,500.

• 98 Weber Ave., Kasem Morshed to Bell Legacy, $17,500.

• 364 Dartmouth Ave., Dau Pham; Dau T. Pham; James A. Paratacz to Wells Fargo Bank, $16,000.

• 12 Hauf, NPS Enterprises of Buffalo; NFS Enterprises of Buffalo to ND Chowed Llc, $15,000.

• 37 Victoria Ave., Keith L. Gray to NPS Enterprises of Buffalo, $15,000.

• 54 Ontario, J. Horton Matthews to Redbird Properties, $15,000.

• 35 Oberlin, Adnan Malik to Mohammed Abdul Khalique, $14,000.

• 133 Germain St., Walter T. Skotnicki to Khalil Mohamed; Sharazudin Muhammed, $13,500.

• 164 Clark St., Joshua P. Myles-Jones to Salma Akter, $12,500.

• 54 Roma St., Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation to Nechama Rosenberg, $12,500.

• 304 Amherst St., Robert C. Lacey; Ronnie C. Michael to Brandon M. Lauer, $10,000.

• 354 Gibson, Kamruz Zaman; Zaman Kamruz to Abdur Rahim; Mohammed Alauddin, $9,500.

CHEEKTOWAGA Highest price: $229,900 Average price: $98,281 Median price: $94,580 Number of Sales: 32

• 137 Blossom Wood Lane, Marrano/Marc Equity Corporation to Donna P. Mitchell, $229,900.

• 89 Rondelay Drive, Scott W. Perry; Jill E. Zalikowski to Andrew G. Wojda, $146,000.

• 23 Vegola Ave., Richard L. Chesser; Patricia A. Chesser to HSBC Bank, $135,577.

• 115 Gary Lane, Michael V. Salva to Detrich Jacobs, $129,900.

• 69 Danielle Drive, Jennifer L. Morello; Daniel R. Morello to Katie Silsby; Christopher Silsby, $125,000.

• 64 Park Ave., Sherry A. Bless; Arthur J. Eisensmith Jr. to Michael J. Bieganski, $124,000.

• 222 South Roycroft, Angelina Melkumyan to Jobaidur Rahman Khan, $122,000.

• 191 Lou Ann Drive, Nancy Schnerle to Travis W. Atkinson; Cassandra L. Atkinson, $120,000.

• 3 Honduras Lane, Suzanne Podsiadlo to Christopher Lyons; Jamie L. Lyons, $116,000.

• 63 Fairoaks Lane, Alex Kurczaba; Mary Renee Kurczaba Sr.; Alex S. Kurczaba; Christine M. Kurczaba to Elizabeth Spencer; Patrick Cohan, $115,000.

• 25 Creek View Drive, Carol J. Handzel; Ronald W. Handzel to Judith H. Morris, $114,900.

• 23 Patton Lane, John M. Budowski to Daniel J. Dinatale, $113,500.

• 41 Donna Court, Christopher J. Wurstner to Eric Flores; Lori R. Flores, $110,000.

• 30 Princeton Court, Toni Anne Dean; Anthony Frank Giammarise; Nicholas R. Giammarise; Lynn M. Schwab; Joanne G. Vaughan to James M. Durolek, $100,000.

• 994 Cleveland Drive, 18 Chaim Llc to Francis J. Jacobi, $98,500.

• 40 West Toulon, Barbara Nowicki; John Nowicki to Rebecca L. Roll, $96,460.

• 33 Aurora Drive, Jason Rutecki to Andrew J. Simon; Summer K. Young, $92,700.

• 35 Beale Ave., Central Development Group Inc. to Phillip Przybysz; Barbara A. Przybysz, $87,500.

• 69 Patricia Lane, Rebecca McGrath to Richard J. Viggato, $86,600.

• 30 Village Lane, Dorothy Wozniak; Phillip C. Barth III to Fannie Mae, $84,869.

• 35 Broad St., Christopher J. Lyons; Jamie L. Lyons to Megan E. Meyer, $84,700.

• 2 Sandra Drive, Denise Herman; Eddy R. Quezada to Wells Fargo Bank, $84,000.

• 133 Hemenway Road, Deborah L. Tulowiecki to Joshua J. Wiseman, $83,000.

• 616 Huth Road, Karen Lee Garrow; Theodore R. Garrow to Loralee L. Tonsoline; Kailee J. Ragsdale, $82,500.

• 123 South Seine Drive, Helen Smutek; Helen S. Smutek; Raymond E. Smutek to Lynne M. Jensen, $80,500.

• 2392 Genesee St., Nelliyan Karuppiah to Patrick Higgins, $75,000.

• 303 Danbury, Alice G. Miner; Ronald P. Janis to Christine Dougherty; Michael Dillon, $73,000.

• 640 Mount Vernon Road, Grace M. McKowne to Thomas J. Driscoll, $65,900.

• 45 Loxley Road, Eva Gelley to Chasrene Calhoun, $63,000.

• 27-29 Rockleigh Drive, John F. Walkowiak III to Domus Mea Llc, $40,000.

• 1032 Borden Road, Walter R. Bakos to Michael Serafini, $32,500.

CLARENCE Highest price: $735,000 Average price: $286,500 Median price: $261,250 Number of Sales: 10

• 9780 Keystone Court, Ilya Segal; Stella Shalumova to David M. Ziotnick; Melissa L. Petras, $735,000.

• 5921 Monaghan Lane, Robert C. Moscati; Barbara J. Moscati to Kory B. Reed; Jodie A. Reed, $411,000.

• 6411 Cloverleaf Circle, Josephine G. Bottaro to Margaret Bellomo; Adam J. Bellomo, $326,000.

• 9130 Via Cimato Drive, Dana Sheridan; Patrick Sheridan to Kerry L. Cox; James V. Cox III, $318,000.

• 5129 Willow Brook Drive, Thomas Anthony Noel Mehaffy; Catherine M. Mehaffy to Anne M. Callaghan; William J. Callaghan III, $262,500.

• 4659 Ransom Road, Kenneth R. Banaszak; Mia I. Banaszak to Elizabeth Kociencki; Thaddeus J. Kociencki, $260,000.

• 8510 Stahley Road, Marshanne M. Bingeman to David S. Osadchuk, $207,500.

• 4247 Circlecle Court, Margaret K. Bellomo; Adam J. Bellomo to Emily Pulli; Patrick Denisco, $195,000.

• Vacant Land/8315 West Phalinger Road, Ruth K. Dorr to Michael J. Chameli; Linda L. Chameli, $80,000.

• Vacant Land/8345 Westphalinger Road, Ruth K. Dorr to Jacob Chameli; Christine Chameli, $70,000.

COLDEN

• 8537 Knapp Road, Joanne M. Kasperek; Donald E. Kasperek to Harold L. Giglio, $190,000.

• 9185 State Road, Carol Corah to Larry White Sr.; William P. Sprague, $126,500.

• 245 Seneca St., Dana A. Tietz to Charles G. Rogers, $89,000.

• 55 Perry St., Ted K. Greinert to Bayview Loan Servicing, $46,492.

COLLINS

• 13115 Sisson Highway, Krystyna Fijalkowski to John Vicario, $145,000.

• 14703 Aldrich St. Extension, Jackie Antonelli; Jeffrey Antonelli to Paul D. Cobo, $112,000.

EDEN

• 9443 Jennings Road, Ronald J. Steinmetz; Patricia A. Steinmetz to Aaron M. Cole; Shana M. Cole, $239,000.

• 8727 Jennings Road & Part of 8791 Jennings Road, Joyce G. Laing to Mary S. Laing; Paul C. Laing Jr., $200,000.

• 8331 Evelyn Drive, David Arthur Brown; Joyce Ruth Heinhold; Phillip Nelson Brown; Frank Lester Norman Brown; Paul Shawn Kingsley Brown to Andrew S. Tarasek, $102,900.

ELMA

• 620 Stolle Road, Linda L. Santo to John M. Budowski; Jessica L. Budowski, $285,567.

• 250 Hilltop Drive, Robert J. Platek; Kathleen A. Platek to Linda L. Santo, $175,000.

• 420 North Davis Road, MS Properties of WNY Inc. to Eric Nicholson; Mandi Nicholson, $170,000.

EVANS

• 6693 Lake Shore Road, Tracy A. Carboni Jr. to Adam J. Andijczuk; Alicia R. Andijczuk, $149,200.

• 1009 Backus Road, Terrie J. Timm; Earl A. Timm Jr. to Judy Quirk; Thomas J. Quirk, $98,000.

• 6850 Prescott Drive, Albert L. Brainard; Vicki L. Brainard to Properties By Wolf, $85,000.

• 1954 Cain Road, Margaret A. Britting to RKT Management, $70,000.

• 6896 Putnam Drive, Mary Williams to Linda Perez, $25,000.

• 8595 North Main rear/vacant, Charles R. Siracuse; Russell J. Siracuse; Maria A. Siebert to Caryl A. Youngers, $7,000.

GRAND ISLAND Highest price: $418,500 Average price: $196,850 Median price: $170,100 Number of Sales: 8

• 220 Park Place, Stephen Anderson; Erika L. Anderson to Rajinder Pal Singh Bajwa; Simmanjeet Mangat; Rajinder Pal S. Bajwa, $418,500.

• 49 Morningside Drive, Susan E. Dye to Heather A. Fanning; John R. Fanning Jr., $210,000.

• 1067 Baseline Road, Mary McGraw; John David McGraw; J. David McGraw; Mary A. McGraw to Joseph Novak III; Dena Novak, $190,000.

• 78 Countryside Lane, John A. Ruffolo to Jennifer L. Morello; Daniel R. Morello, $175,200.

• 2690 Stony Point Road, Sara Riemer to David F. Bentley III, $165,000.

• 1023 Carter Drive, Kristin Lechner; Richard D. Lechner to Daniel Rott, $141,100.

• 2938 Love Road, Diane J. Sturtz to Pamela J. Sturtz; Joseph M. Sturtz Jr., $140,000.

• 215 Hennepin Road, Dena Novak; Joseph J. Novak III to Donald H. Flett; Barbara C. Flett, $135,000.

HAMBURG Highest price: $1,500,000 Average price: $216,426 Median price: $157,900 Number of Sales: 27

• 3780 Howard Road, Hopevale Inc. to Randolph Academy Union Free School District, $1,500,000.

• 3725 South Park Ave., JCJ Real Estate Lp to Victoria Land Partners, $645,000.

• 2442 North Creek Road, James T. Dunn; Myra E. Dunn to 2442 North Creek Road Llc, $300,000.

• 49 Idlewood Court, Graham P. Leach; Paula M. Leach to Barbara J. Pleckan, $272,500.

• 2172 Shadow Lane, Ryan Homes of New York; Nvr Inc. to Mary Jo Parsons; Allan O. Parsons, $269,235.

• 3011 Cloverbank Road, Robin Nebbia to Bernadette Pagac; Frederick Pagac, $254,900.

• 4851 Meadow Lane, Thomas D. Ziolkowski; Dawn M. Ziolkowski to Frank J. Guzzetta; Elizabeth M. Guzzetta, $194,000.

• 32 East Union St., Philip Bachert; Leonard D. Zaccagnino to Gayle Hardick; William Hardick, $190,000.

• 6260 Eckhardt Road, Jacqlyn M. Lyons; Bernard J. Lyons to Edmon T. Lampson, $187,600.

• 5080 Overlock Point, Anthony J. Venditti; Sally A. Venditti to Sharon M. Pfeffer; Richard C. Pfeffer, $183,000.

• 3901 Harvard, Nicholas C. Butera to Theresa Lyman; Tabitha Pache, $174,000.

• 3715 Breckenridge Road, Mary Ann Kuczmarski; Daniel P. Kuczmarski; Jessica L. Kuczmarski to Michael P. Marinaccio; Virginia R. Walker-Marinaccio, $171,500.

• 4619 Ironwood Drive, Helen L. Mencer to Michael L. Braunscheidel, $164,000.

• 5364 Roberts Road, Jennifer Strobele; Kevin M. Ejbisz to Jeffrey A. Antonelli; Jackie L. Antonelli, $157,900.

• 59 Chapel Glen Drive, Margaret Semesnyei; Tivadar Semesnyei to Kristin Dellapenta; Samuel W. Dellapenta, $157,500.

• 3895 Sharondale Drive, Mary Anne Eustace; Mary Ann Eustace; Michael J. Eustace to Amy K. Eschberger; Jason M. Eschberger, $145,000.

• 170 George St., Susan E. O’Connor to Cindy A. Piazza, $123,100.

• 3913 South Park Ave., Raymond Castan; Carol Ann Castan to JNR Property Holdings, $120,000.

• 3417 Emerling Drive, Charles J. Dias; Stephanie M. Dias to Samantha Gullickson; Thomas Gullickson, $107,500.

• Vacant Land & 3633 Salisbury Ave., Bernadine Klajas; Joseph F. Klaja to Amanda L. Papaj; Michael A. Papaj Jr., $101,000.

• 39 Gilbert Ave., Nancy L. Debo; Donald J. Debo to Matthew S. Ciminelli, $100,000.

• 3673 Grafton, Virginia M. Edson to Kathryn A. Gowin, $85,000.

• 117 Maple Ave., Joshua H. Bengart to Donna Fae Kourt; David M. Kourt, $72,000.

• 3308 Ashley Drive, Carol A. McHugh to John Sardina, $50,000.

• 5132 Roseview Ave., Phyllis A. Nickerson to Peter Genovese, $42,780.

• Vacant Land/Fairgrounds Road, Pro Pool Service Inc. to Parker Road Development Company Inc., $40,000.

• 159 Pierce Ave., Joy O’Brien Hart; Joy O. Hart to Arthur R. Krakowiak; Daniel S. Logel; Mark A. Wagner, $36,000.

HOLLAND

• Vacant Land/East Holland Road, Marilyn T. Becker; William A. Becker to Paul Rambino, $10,000.

LACKAWANNA

• 50 Roland Ave., Nicholas Locicero; Stacey M. Roth to Wells Fargo Bank, $67,000.

• 9 Smith Drive, Shirley C. Sullivan to Baron Holdings, $42,000.

• 11 Julian, MWE Enterprises to Fee Lin Bunnett; Noah Bunnett, $10,000.

LANCASTER Highest price: $382,088 Average price: $211,652 Median price: $192,000 Number of Sales: 23

• 29 Jonquille Court, Marrano/Marc Equity Corporation to Kristy L. Schaller; John B. Schaller, $382,088.

• 41 Ward Road, 41 Ward Road Llc to Michael Arno, $350,000.

• Vacant Land/Walden Ave., 41 Ward Road Llc to Michael Arno, $350,000.

• 13 Sussex Lane, Bruce C. Saunders; Erika J. Saunders to National Residential Nominee Services Inc., $300,000.

• 13 Sussex Lane, National Residential Nominee Services Inc. to Katie L. Honsberger; Eric M. Honsberger, $300,000.

• 11 Spruceland Terrace, Steven M. Grundy; Santa S. Grundy to Mark R. Burkard; Annmarie P. Barnes, $294,500.

• 24 Middlebury, Ryan Homes of New York; Nvr Inc. to Todd V. Gerber, $283,090.

• 39 Tranquility Trail, Ryan Homes of New York; Nvr Inc. to Terry J. Moore; Susan E. Moore, $260,725.

• 16 Signal Drive, Anna Kelly; Stephen P. Kelly to Jill E. Perry; Scott W. Perry II, $226,600.

• 393 Seneca Place, Kristie M. White to William Kyle Rudick; Ashley L. Westfield, $207,000.

• 25 Greenbriar Drive, Renee Minsterman; Brandon J. Minsterman to Jerren Alcalde; Christine M. Marchetta, $205,000.

• 207 Warner Road, Stephen J. Sprada to Richard A. Bittner, $192,000.

• 54 Old Post Road, Barbara A. Wojcinski to James R. Lines Jr., $191,000.

• 11 Stephens Court, Timothy K. Young to Therese Aquilina; Mark Aquilina, $180,000.

• 22 Rose St., Katie Honsberger; Eric Honsberger to Krystal A. Pollak, $180,000.

• 4794 William St., Jennifer L. Penksa; Jennifer L. Lachina; Daniel A. Lachina to Carolyn J. Wood, $174,000.

• 170 Seneca Place, Brian T. Firestone to David Genovese; Jamie Genovese, $166,000.

• 10 Randolph St., AE Buffalo Properties to Jonathan G. Zielinski, $158,000.

• 95 Richmond St., Kenneth Karl to Renee Minsterman, $137,000.

• 28 Woodlawn Ave., Dennis Przykuta to Joseph W. Kwiatkowski; Sarah R. Kwiatkowski, $106,000.

• 9 Winfield, Josiegrace Inc. to AWS 76 Company Inc., $85,000.

• 39 Middlebury Lane, RJF Development JV to Ryan Homes of New York; Nvr Inc., $71,000.

• 1859 Como Park Blvd., Carmen H. Gallo to E&R Horizons, $69,000.

MARILLA

• 1112 Lyndale Lane, Carolyn J. Wood; Jerome F. Wood to Scott C. Lambert, $250,000.

NEWSTEAD

• 11448 Rapids Road, Pilgrim Properties; Albert Burruano to Timothy R. Hodge; Catherine A. Hodge, $199,000.

• 12605 Hunts Corners Road, Elizabeth R. Wilsdorf Kociencki; Thaddeus J. Kociencki; Elizabeth R. Kociencki to Woodside Quickturn Llc, $140,000.

NORTH COLLINS

• 2111 Langford Road, Aaron M. Cole; Shana M. Hill to Brandon Wilczynski; Kelsey Barratt, $123,000.

ORCHARD PARK

• 34 Metzger Drive, Kevin Gallivan; Mary V. Gallivan to Douglas J. Page; Laura J. Page, $222,500.

• 6350 Chestnut Ridge Road, Angelo D. Caruana to Nancy L. McKeown; Gregory J. Jakubczak; Margaret A. Jakubczak, $164,800.

• 50 Carriage Drive, Joy Thrun to Aurthur Petch, $145,000.

• 47 Golden Crescent Way, Pleasant Acres West Llc to Ryan Homes of New York; Nvr Inc., $100,000.

• 6 Hampton Court, Mark S. Bellis; Christina A. Bellis to Paul Sikorskyj, $80,000.

SARDINIA

• 11070 Creek Road, Michael James Dix Jr. to Joshua Lewandowski, $188,000.

CITY OF TONAWANDA

• 186 Franklin St., Alfred P. Herpin; Anna F. Herpin to Robert A. Band III, $97,500.

• 117 Sharon Drive, Nancy R. Frey; Paul L. Frederick; Ruth M. Frederick; Patricia L. Young; Duane P. Frederick; Elaine A. Garrity to Georgette M. Dray, $92,500.

• 161 Frederick Road, Phyllis L. Demonte to Joelle Magboo, $90,000.

• 23 Prospect Ave., Rosemary Louise Harms; Rosemary L. Harms to Stacey E. Stiles, $60,000.

• 224 Main St., Zuhr Family Trust to Joseph A. Farinas, $54,550.

TOWN OF TONAWANDA Highest price: $1,000,000 Average price: $193,331 Median price: $126,150 Number of Sales: 19

• 3900 River Road, Marathon Ashland Petroleum to Suit-Kote Corporation, $1,000,000.

• 1000 Ellicott Creek Road, Jig Jag Development Corp. to Bass Group, $497,250.

• 183 Bering, Jay A. Blake to D. Pamela Nordstrom; D. William Nordstrom, $260,000.

• 55 Snug Haven Court, D. Pamela Nordstrom; D. William Nordstrom to Hayley E. Capshaw; Seth A. Harrison, $195,000.

• 844 Starin Ave., Barbara Esur Hogg; Mark G. Hogg to Theresa N. Fraser, $170,000.

• 27 Mang Ave., Amber L. Kurosky; Joseph L. Kurosky to Chingiz Vagidov; Jessica Vagidov, $153,000.

• 337 Forbes Ave., Craig W. Tyson; Jenna L. Tyson to Lisa J. Baird, $147,500.

• 28 Hampton Parkway, David V. Disanto; Diana S. Marzullo to Jake M. Knier, $132,900.

• 15 Fenwick Road, Arlene Hickey Connell; Edward W. Connell Jr. to Karen A. Adams, $132,000.

• 56 Bannard Ave., Jacqueline Bennett; Beverly Martin; Christopher L. Bennett; Joseph M. Bennett to Nathaniel J. Skiba, $126,150.

• 185 Midland Ave., Laura Beitz-Walters; Christopher Walters to Mark Donick; Karen Donick, $115,000.

• 960 Woodstock, Sandra Lee Tippett; James D. Tippett to Jenna M. Ferrentino, $115,000.

• 299 Victoria Blvd., Salvatore R. Christopher to Marie Rueter; Matthew J. Wilcott, $110,000.

• 251 Clark St., Susan Balogh Allshouse to Tara Denny, $109,000.

• 214 Rosemont Ave., Christopher R. O’Neill to Kristin Cahill; Sean M. Cahill, $99,500.

• 183 Hamilton, David M. Parish; Lynda M. Parish to Joshua D. Mitch, $95,000.

• 95 St. Johns Ave., Tracy Yuhl to Joshua M. Fisher, $87,980.

• 154 Elmview, Wilbur L. Burkholder; Olive L. Burkholder to Carol L. Sacash, $82,000.

• 323 Shepard Ave., Modesto Argenio; Cherie Lynn Dylewski to Mohamed H. Abdulla, $46,000.

WALES

• 13445 Strykersville Road, Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation to Ernest A. Planck, $136,000.

• 12768 Warner Hill Road, George Andrew Atkinson to Ashley J. Baker; David J. Baker, $60,000.

WEST SENECA Highest price: $350,000 Average price: $160,444 Median price: $131,000 Number of Sales: 14

• 259&281 Orchard Park Road, Audrey Schneider; Charles W. Schneider to Sivertip Ventures, $350,000.

• 2850 Transit Road, 2850 Transit Road Llc to Countertop Showroom, $342,500.

• 3 Centennial Court, Monika Wasiak; Thomas Wasiak to Gregory Gillette; Katherine Gillette, $232,000.

• 533 Meadow, Toni A. Fekete to Rafael P. Coccia; Terace T. Coccia, $187,000.

• 92 Northridge, Amy E. Ramey; Luke A. Ramey to Jeffrey M. McMullen; Angela M. Hirtzel, $167,000.

• 26 Colonial Manor Court, Lynn W. Scudder; Jacqueline A. Scudder to James M. Starkey; Janelle M. Starkey, $166,000.

• 103 Kathy Lane, Ann M. Galli; Richard J. Galli to Richard Joseph Galli, $132,000.

• 111 Sunnyside Drive, Suzanne M. Furlong to Dawn Ziolkowski; Thomas D. Ziolkowski, $130,000.

• 200 Boncroft Drive, Roy K Ronald to James Rone, $129,000.

• 84 Lyndale Court, Brian C. Krull to Brian Kelleher, $120,000. ]]>
Sat, 12 Jul 2014 13:57:09 -0400
<![CDATA[ Climbing the ladder M&T management program “graduates” embrace opportunities ]]> http://www.buffalonews.com/business/climbing-the-ladder-mt-management-program-graduates-embrace-opportunities-20140712 Laura Savattieri joined M&T Bank Corp. only a year ago, but has already worked in about a half dozen branches.

She also attended an employee retreat, worked with a team that pitched ideas to senior managers and has made contacts across M&T.

For Savattieri, it was a whirlwind year. For M&T, it was exactly the experience the Buffalo-based bank designs for new young hires on track for management roles.

M&T gives members of its Management Development Program – known as MDP for short – a broad perspective, so they understand how all the pieces of the bank fit together and get to meet leaders along the way. The program helps M&T attract young talent while reinforcing the corporate culture of a bank that has grown extensively in both jobs and territory.

Savattieri was part of an 80-member class – a record size – that began the program in July 2013. They finished with a “graduation” luncheon last month that included a handshake from the bank’s president, Mark J. Czarnecki. The Buffalo News last year profiled Savattieri and two of her colleagues, Christianna Denelsbeck and Taylor Hogenkamp, when they were a few months into the program, and recently checked in to see how things turned out.

Of the 80 class members who started, 68 stayed through the end, which was a typical attrition rate, said Deana Summerson, group vice president with M&T.

“You’re getting these folks as their first job and they don’t know really want they want to do,” Summerson said. Some new hires decide to leave because they are homesick, or they discover the job isn’t what they expected, or a boyfriend or girlfriend draws them elsewhere.

M&T has run the program since the early 1980s and knows to expect some departures. The bank hopes the vast majority of the class will remain and start to climb the ranks. M&T leaders gave high marks to the most recent class, Summerson said.

Management development programs are useful in multiple ways, said Prasad Balkundi, a professor in the University at Buffalo School of Management’s Department of Organization and Human Resources. New recruits are assimilated into a company more easily. Their employer benefits from ideas the new hires bring to the job. And the senior managers get to update their own skills, based on what the new recruits introduce.

The key for these companies, he said, is to allow the new hires’ creativity to flourish, rather than simply making them conform to the company’s way of doing things. He recalled the example of a newly hired engineer who years ago joined a company in India and introduced a radical new design for a gas pump that saved on labor and material costs. The design is still used today, he said.

“Companies need to learn that their young hires are a resource to tap into,” Balkundi said.

Doing real work

The current M&T class members got together about once a month for overviews of the bank’s departments. For one such meeting, the group traveled to Baltimore to see M&T’s growing mid-Atlantic presence. The trip included a visit to M&T Bank Stadium, the NFL stadium for which the bank has the naming rights.

Throughout the program, the new hires received leadership and communications training, and met with some high-ranking officials. “Just to hear how these individuals approach the business, problem solve, think about the initiatives they’re faced with, is phenomenal,” Hogenkamp said.

The bank split the members into small teams – purposely mixing together employees with different jobs – to work on projects that lasted five months. At the end, the teams pitched recommendations to senior managers. “They give us projects that the departments truly are thinking about and wanting to work on, so you’re definitely doing productive work,” Savattieri said.

Savattieri’s team worked on improving the “onboarding” experience for new and transferred employees. Some team members were based outside of Buffalo, forcing the team to get creative about using conference calls and Web conferences. “I think it really teaches us how in the real world, if you move up, you have people in M&T all over the country,” she said.

Hogenkamp’s team worked on developing a common identity for the financial literacy systems M&T uses in different markets. He works in M&T Securities and gained appreciation for what his retail colleagues went through to squeeze in conference calls while dealing with branch customers.

There were also more relaxed moments. In late September, class members attended an employee retreat at Holiday Valley in Ellicottville, a chance for them to bond outside the office. And after the winter holidays, they met up at LaserTron, which is an M&T customer.

Savattieri and Hogenkamp are local natives, so they didn’t have to get accustomed to living in Western New York over the past year. That was not the case for Denelsbeck, an Alabama native.

“It was a rough first winter, but everyone told me that this has been the worst one in a while, so I’m finally starting to believe that,” she said with good cheer.

Denelsbeck, who works in business banking, has embraced her new home, living downtown and attending Bisons, Bills and Sabres games. “I’ve tried pretty much all of the food here, I think.” She also joined a leadership group for young professionals to meet people outside of M&T.

Denelsbeck has come to view M&T as a “small bank,” despite its 16,000 employees. “It’s very rare that you walk into (1 M&T Plaza) and before you even get on the elevator, you don’t see two or three people that you know on a first- name basis. I think that’s kind of brilliant, and the ability to work together and reach out to your contacts across the bank is very common.”

While the new employees are still getting rooted at M&T, they have also learned to adapt: Hogenkamp and Denelsbeck were temporarily assigned to the bank’s compliance area. M&T is making a major push in compliance, to satisfy federal regulators as it tries to complete a long-planned acquisition of Hudson City Bancorp in New Jersey.

Recruiting begins

Meanwhile, the management development program’s cycle continues. A brand-new class – again with 80 members – is beginning. And this fall, M&T will start recruiting college seniors for the 2015 edition. Across all campuses where M&T makes visits, the bank typically talks to more than 600 students, then invites good prospects for interviews to begin narrowing the field.

The University at Buffalo is among the schools where M&T draws candidates. Gwen Applebaum, director of the UB School of Management’s Frank L. Ciminelli Family Career Resource Center, said companies with management development programs, including M&T, tend to use a student’s grade point average as “a threshold” when they are making selections. On top of a strong GPA, she said, employers look for students who have had internships, participated in activities, and took on leadership roles.

Management development programs tend to help students feel invested in their new employer, she said. “It helps them envision what their role may be.”

When one of M&T’s management development classes wraps up, there is a carryover effect. Some members continue to get together outside of work. And some are active in the program’s alumni network and serve mentors to new class members. “There’s a nice opportunity for those that really felt like they had that solid connection to the program to stay involved,” said Jillian Titus, assistant vice president and manager of the college development program.

The bank keeps tabs on past class members’ careers. “They know that when they come in here that they are on a fast track to move up in getting different experiences,” Summerson said. If a past MDP member has been in the same job for two or three years, the bank will evaluate whether it is time to move that person into a new position. Some of the young employees decide on their own to pursue different jobs within M&T, an interest that might have been sparked during the overviews in the development program.

Hogenkamp said he built valuable connections with class members and alumni, as well as M&T managers. In that way, he said, the program endures. “I don’t know if it ever completely ever ends.”

email: mglynn@buffnews.com ]]>
Sat, 12 Jul 2014 23:02:36 -0400 Matt Glynn
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<![CDATA[ The downside of low mortgage rates ]]> http://www.buffalonews.com/associated-press/ap-business-news/the-downside-of-low-mortgage-rates-20140711
Doing so would mean giving up an irresistible rate in exchange for a new mortgage carrying a rate up to a percentage point higher. Their monthly payments would be larger even for a house of the same price. That’s discouraging some people from selling, thereby limiting the supply of available homes and contributing to slower home sales.

It’s a significant shift from the way the U.S. housing market has worked for the past 30 years. For most of that time, whenever a homeowner decided to trade up to a better home, mortgage rates usually were lower than the last time they had bought. That helped make a new purchase seem more attractive.

But that is changing. The average rate on a 30-year mortgage fell below 4 percent in late 2011 and reached a record low level of 3.3 percent in November 2012. It didn’t top 4 percent again until mid-2013. Homeowners took advantage of the lower rates and a refinancing boom ensued.

More than one-third of homes with a mortgage now have rates below 4 percent, real estate data provider CoreLogic estimates. Yet mortgage rates now average 4.2 percent. That is still low by historical standards but up about three-quarters of a point from a year and a half ago. And should mortgage rates rise later this year and next, as many economists expect, even more homeowners will be affected.

As a result, many homeowners with low rates are staying put. Others are moving and buying new homes, but keeping their old ones and renting them. Both choices mean that fewer homes are listed for sale, which drives up prices. Higher prices and limited selection have put the brakes on a housing recovery.

And slower home sales, in turn, drag down economic growth. Fewer sales mean lower commissions for real estate agents. Sales of furniture, appliances and garden supplies also take a hit.

Mark Fleming, chief economist at CoreLogic, estimates that as many as 3.6 million homeowners are unlikely to sell this year because they would have to give up a lower rate.

“They got the deal of the century,” said Glenn Kelman, CEO of real estate brokerage Redfin. “I don’t think in 100 years anyone will be lending money at 3.5 percent. How do you walk away from a deal like that?”

You’d think Ryan Carson, an attorney in Seattle, would be ready to sell. He and his wife have one young child and they are expecting twins. They are going to hire a live-in nanny, which means there will be six people living in their four-bedroom house.

“I could probably use the extra space, honestly,” he said. And he would make money off the sale, since his home’s market value is above what he paid.

But Carson, 39, has a 30-year, 3.85 percent mortgage rate, so he isn’t going anywhere. He refinanced into the lower rate last summer, reducing his monthly payment to $2,200 from $2,600.

“I have no interest right now in selling,” he said.

A shortage of homes for sale has plagued the housing market since late 2012. The number of available homes last year was the equivalent of just 4.9 months’ worth of sales, according to the National Association of Realtors. That’s far below the typical figure of six months. Inventory has recovered somewhat this year, partly because the spring buying season is underway, but it was still equal to just 5.6 months of supply in May.

Meanwhile, sales of existing homes have fallen 5 percent in the past year. Yet prices rose 8.8 percent nationwide during the same period, according to CoreLogic, partly because of the limited supply.

What economists call “rate lock-in” is one of several reasons so few houses are for sale. Another factor is that almost 40 percent of homeowners still don’t have enough equity to enable them to sell. Some are “underwater,” with a mortgage higher than the home’s value. Others may have so little equity that they can’t afford to pay off the sales costs and put a down payment on their next property.

“We are in a uniquely difficult period for matching buyers and sellers,” says Stan Humphries, chief economist at real estate data provider Zillow.

Home prices are expected to keep rising in the coming months, though at a slower pace than the double-digit gains that occurred earlier this year. Higher prices should lower the number of underwater homes and enable more people to sell.

But as the number of underwater homes falls, several studies suggest the impact could be offset by higher mortgage rates, which would increase the number of homeowners facing interest rate “lock-in.”

Most economists expect mortgage rates to rise later this year as the Federal Reserve ends its bond-purchase program, which is intended to keep borrowing rates low.

“Mortgage rate lock-in is going to be a major challenge for the housing market going forward,” Humphries said. “It is going to be a constant tug of war between buyers on one side ... and mortgage rate lock-in on the other side.”

A 2011 study by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York concluded that for every $1,000 increase in a homeowner’s annual mortgage payment, the likelihood that homeowner would sell fell as much as 16 percent. ]]>
Sat, 12 Jul 2014 00:43:34 -0400 By Christopher S. Rugaber

ASSOCIATED PRESS

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<![CDATA[ Owners of Rainbow Roller Rink buy Lockport’s Skateland ]]> http://www.buffalonews.com/city-region/lockport/owners-of-rainbow-roller-rink-buy-lockports-skateland-20140711
As of the closure May 18, the former owners needed to pay the City of Lockport $57,255 to keep the property out of the city tax foreclosure auction later this year.

Skateland, owned by Ferraro Entertainment, had lost money for 19 consecutive years, co-owner Lori Ferraro told The Buffalo News two weeks before the shutdown. The family business was being subsidized by revenue from another Ferraro-owned rink in Lake George, which has fallen on hard times.

Ferraro and her husband, Brian, had been seeking donations to try to stave off foreclosure.

The Coopers promised to update Skateland before reopening it.

Maurice Cooper said that the miniature golf course will be painted, new carpeting will be installed, and restroom and games will be updated. He added that all the offerings of the old Skateland will be kept, including laser tag.

The Ferraros got in financial trouble by attempting to do that in 1995, when they added a miniature golf course and a laser tag facility. That increased their property taxes but didn’t succeed in bringing in enough new revenue to pay them.

After the closing, a Buffalo News reporter saw video game machines being hauled out of the building. A private auction was to have been held in early June, but it was canceled. The reason for the cancellation, said Patrick J. Bradley, spokesman for the Coopers, was that they had made a purchase offer on the facility. The offer was accepted, and the Coopers picked up the keys Friday, Bradley said.

“The City of Lockport and the surrounding communities deserve to continue to have a safe, well-run, family-oriented fun center,” Maurice Cooper said. “Skateland has a proud history, and we are convinced that its best years are still ahead.”

The Coopers have owned Rainbow Roller Rink for the past 30 years. That business is 65 years old. Under the Coopers, it added an outdoor skate park and hosted the Queen City Roller Girls, a flat-track roller derby team. It also hosts a roller figure skating club, coached by Maurice Jr. and the Coopers’ elder son, Maurice III. The latter won a world roller skating championship in 2007, and the couple’s younger son, Michael, won medals in the 2011 and 2012 world championships.

email: tprohaska@buffnews.com ]]>
Fri, 11 Jul 2014 22:44:26 -0400 Thomas Prohaska
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<![CDATA[ New 71-acre camp in Portland offers adventures ‘off the grid’ ]]> http://www.buffalonews.com/city-region/new-71-acre-camp-in-portland-offers-adventures-off-the-grid-20140711
“Off the Grid Experience” a locally owned business, will have a ribbon-cutting and offer a tour at 1 p.m. at the 71-acre camp, at 65777 Woleben Road

Offered are biking and walking trails and a place for families and small groups to gather to experience nature. The camp features streams, waterfalls and cabins for overnight stays. Campers are taken to cabins in horse-drawn wagons.

For more information, visit at www.offthegridexperience.com or call (716) 203-7221 ]]>
Fri, 11 Jul 2014 22:43:50 -0400
<![CDATA[ Reynolds in talks to acquire Lorillard in merger of tobacco rivals ]]> http://www.buffalonews.com/business/reynolds-in-talks-to-acquire-lorillard-in-merger-of-tobacco-rivals-20140711
A deal between the second-biggest tobacco company in the United States, Reynolds American, and No. 3 Lorillard would unite the maker of the brands Camel and Newport and would create a formidable rival to industry leader Altria Group, home of Marlboro.

The complex transaction – involving not only the two companies, but also British American Tobacco and the Imperial Tobacco Group – could be announced as soon as early next week, according to people briefed on the matter.

Under the proposed terms of the deal, Reynolds American would buy Lorillard to create a company with a combined market value of more than $56 billion. It would then sell several billion dollars’ worth of brands and other assets to Imperial, raising the smaller British rival to the No. 3 position in the United States and potentially assuaging antitrust concerns.

The merger discussions represent the industry’s boldest response yet to a declining, if still profitable, market. Declining smoking rates generally and aggressive public health campaigns aimed at curbing smoking have cut into sales in the United States.

Lately, the industry has seen opportunity in the new business of e-cigarettes. E-cigarettes already have about $2.5 billion in annual sales. Though that is a tiny fraction of the overall tobacco market, e-cigarettes sales are expected to grow quickly in the coming years. A merger could give the companies sufficient scale for the technology and the promotion needed to make what is now a small niche a bigger market.

The companies on Friday did not disclose financial terms for the potential merger. The combined company would have 42 percent of the tobacco market in the United States, according to Credit Suisse research. ]]>
Fri, 11 Jul 2014 19:28:06 -0400 By Chad Bray and Michael J. de la Merced

NEW YORK TIMES

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<![CDATA[ Work has begun at RiverBend build site ]]> http://www.buffalonews.com/business/work-has-begun-at-riverbend-build-site-20140711
The project’s developer, Buffalo-based contractor LPCiminelli, has been on site doing environmental studies and early-stage testing, as well as some technical work to better understand the property’s geology.

Workers from National Grid are not yet on site, but they have been doing extensive planning about bringing electric service to the 88-acre site and the power-hungry principal tenant.

Work is expected to accelerate within weeks, after a City of Buffalo agency closes on the sale of the RiverBend property to the state. That closing could occur next week, sources familiar with the deal said, clearing the way for the state to begin its work.

Since the mid-June announcement that SolarCity was acquiring solar panel maker Silevo, the state has had serious discussions with company executives about the project, Cuomo has said. Silevo had planned to occupy most of the first 275,000-square-foot building in the complex, but SolarCity now says it wants the Buffalo factory to have five times the capacity that Silevo had envisioned. So plans for the site are being revised.

SolarCity’s plan would boost the factory’s proposed annual capacity from being able to make enough solar panels to produce 200 megawatts of electricity a year to 1 gigawatt, or 1,000 megawatts.

SolarCity is the nation’s busiest solar panel installation company, and it plans to become its largest panel manufacturer, as well.

With the expansion, the Buffalo factory now is expected to provide well over 1,000 jobs, rather than the 475 initially forecast. Another California-based company, LED manufacturer Soraa, also is slated to move into the RiverBend complex.

Some delays

Closing the land transaction has taken much longer than city and state officials expected. When city and state officials reached an agreement in early May on the $2.5 million deal to sell the site for the RiverBend clean energy and technology hub to the state, city officials expected the sale to be completed by the end of May.

But that date came and went, largely because of the complex nature of the deal, which involves an environmentally contaminated site once home to the sprawling Republic Steel plant.

Some of the delay centered around the creation of a property owners association, structured much like the homeowners association in a condominium complex, that would oversee the costs involved with future environmental monitoring and operations at the site, as well as normal property maintenance work there, such as snow removal and landscaping.

Those duties have been handled by the Buffalo Urban Development Corp. since the city acquired the Republic Steel site in 2008, and have cost the development agency an average of $100,000 a year ever since.

Under the property owners association that will be formed, the state agency that is purchasing the property, Fort Schuyler Management Corp., will contribute $50,000 a year toward the operating and maintenance expenses that will be the responsibility of the new association, with the urban development agency responsible for the rest.

It wasn’t until this month that the state Attorney General’s Office gave its required approval to the property owners association, clearing the last major hurdle for the deal to close.

Attorneys from the city and the state now are hammering out last-minute details, and the two sides are expected to be able to close the sale sometime next week.

Power and cleanup

As part of the original development, the state expected to spend nearly $60 million on infrastructure and site improvements, with almost half – $28.5 million – going toward the installation of utilities at the site.

“We’ve been doing behind the scenes work for some time,” said Stephen F. Brady, a National Grid spokesman. “There is a great deal of engineering and design work that gets done, long before field work gets started.”

“We are gathering data on what the demands for our service will be, and we will design our system so that we can meet those demands efficiently and reliably,” Brady said. ”We will be looking at this as an opportunity to make sure the site has 21st Century energy systems.”

State officials also identified additional preconstruction work, ranging from $6.7 million in site remediation work at the brownfield site to $9.2 million on site preparation.

An additional $10.5 million was expected to go toward construction of roads, parking, drainage and site lighting.

Landscaping, pedestrian trails and other final-stage site work are expected to cost $5 million.

email: drobinson@buffnews.com ]]>
Fri, 11 Jul 2014 19:27:14 -0400 David Robinson
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<![CDATA[ Stocks stabilize, but end down for the week ]]> http://www.buffalonews.com/business/stocks-stabilize-but-end-down-for-the-week-20140711
Investors became more cautious this week as corporate earnings for the April-June period began trickling in. Worrisome news about a Portuguese bank also revived fears of another European debt crisis. That weighed on stocks, which had closed out the previous week at record highs.

Investors are now mulling whether the stock’s market valuations are justified by the outlook for company earnings, or whether they have risen too far, too fast.

As investors try to make sense of the market, “we could be in a holding pattern,” said Kristina Hooper, U.S. investment strategist at Allianz Global Investors.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 rose 2.89 points, or 0.2 percent, to 1,967.57 Friday. The weekly decline of 0.9 percent was the biggest since April 11.

The Dow Jones industrial average climbed 28.74 points, or 0.2 percent, to 16,943.81. The Nasdaq composite rose 19.29 points, or 0.4 percent, to 4,415.49.

Friday, investors absorbed corporate news and earnings.

As U.S. companies start to report second-quarter results, investors expect more growth in profits. Earnings for S&P 500 companies are forecast to climb by 6.4 percent. That rise is bigger than the 3.4 percent increase in the first quarter and 4.9 percent in the same period a year earlier, according to data from S&P Capital IQ.

While earnings are rising, stock valuations also have climbed.

The price-earnings ratio for S&P 500 companies, which measures a company’s stock price compared with next year’s forecast earnings, has edged higher to 15.7 from 15.1 at the start of this year and 12.6 at the start of 2013.

“With valuations where they are ... we are pleasantly surprised at the resilience of the market,” said Colleen Supran, a principal of Bingham, Osborn & Scarborough, an investment management company. “Investors still seem to be able to find reasons not to panic.”

In government bond trading, prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note, which moves in the opposite direction to its price, dropped to 2.52 percent from 2.54 percent.

Oil had its biggest one-day drop since April, as Libyan oil appears poised to return to the market while global demand looks to be muted. Oil fell $2.23, or 2.2 percent, to $100.70. ]]>
Fri, 11 Jul 2014 19:24:00 -0400 By Steve Rothwell

ASSOCIATED PRESS

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<![CDATA[ ]]> http://www.buffalonews.com/article/20140711/BUSINESS/140719657/1005

National Grid substation to open soon in Amherst

A new $16 million electric substation that will improve reliability and handle the rising demand for power in a growing portion of the Town of Amherst is expected to open next month, National Grid officials said Friday.

The new substation, located at the end of Frankhauser Road near the intersection of Millersport and Youngmann highways, is expected to improve the utility’s service in portions of Amherst that have experienced a 10 percent increase in electricity demand over the past five years.

As part of the project, National Grid added the substation and installed new power lines to improve the capacity of its electricity grid that serves Eggertsville, Snyder, North Bailey, Getzville, Swormville, East Amherst and Williamsville, National Grid said.

The new substation will be the 10th that National Grid operates in Amherst, and it also will ease the demands on seven of the company’s other nearby substations that are at or near capacity. The substations reduce the voltage of the electricity carried on the utility’s high-voltage lines so that it then can be carried on the lower-voltage feeder lines that run through neighborhoods, sometimes serving more than 1,000 customers at a time.

The new substation is part of a much larger, $1.6 billion program by National Grid to upgrade its electricity transmission and distribution network across the state over the next three years. The new substation was celebrated with a ceremony Friday with company and elected officials.

Focusing on ‘New Buffalo’

The Black Capital Network will be hosting its second “Have You Heard About the New Buffalo?” networking series Thursday.

The events are designed to offer business owners an opportunity to network with local leaders and get a glimpse into the “New Buffalo.” The series visits key development locations in Buffalo with the goal of updating and connecting professionals and minority and women business owners to the project decision makers.

The event will be held at the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus Innovation Center, 640 Ellicott St.

The cost is $20 per person and includes hors d’oeuvres, drinks, a presentation and a tour of the medical campus. For information, call 881-6066.

Amazon seeks drone OK

NEW YORK – Amazon is asking the Federal Aviation Administration permission to use drones as part of its plan to deliver packages to customers in 30 minutes or less.

Following the announcement, Amazon’s shares closed up $18.28, or 5.57 percent, Friday.

The online retailer created a media frenzy in December when it outlined a plan on CBS’ “60 Minutes” to deliver packages with self-guided aircraft that seemed straight out of science fiction.

In a letter to the FAA dated Wednesday, Amazon said it is developing aerial vehicles as part of Amazon Prime Air. The aircraft can travel more than 50 mph and carry loads of up to 5 pounds. About 86 percent of Amazon’s deliveries are 5 pounds or less, the company said.

Fuel economy holds line

For the fifth straight month, the average fuel economy for new vehicles sold in the U.S. remained above 25 miles per gallon.

The average in June, weighted for sales, was 25.5 mpg, down slightly from 25.6 mpg in May, according to a monthly report by the Transportation Research Institute at the University of Michigan. That average is 27 percent higher since October 2007, when the institute began recording fleet fuel-economy numbers.

However, automakers face a federal fuel-economy requirement of 54.5 mpg by model year 2025.

– Dallas Morning News ]]>
Fri, 11 Jul 2014 18:17:25 -0400