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4/10/12-Canada’s change in duty-free rules expected to boost Western New York

NIAGARA FALLS — Starting in June, Canadians will be able to do more shopping on this side of the border before getting hit with a duty tax.

According to estimates from Visit Buffalo Niagara, 3 million Canadians make shopping trips to Western New York each year. Now that the Canadian government is making a change to the duty-free limits, officials expect even more Canadians to come across the border, helping to boost the economy.

Here are the Canadian duty-free rules as of June 1:

• For trips more than 24 hours and less than 48 hours, the duty-free allowance will increase from the current limit of $50 to $200.

• For trips longer than 48 hours, the duty-free allowance will double from the current limit of $400 to $800.

• And for weeklong trips or longer, the duty-free limit will increase from $750 to $800.

When Canada’s duty-free allowance levels change, they’ll match those in the United States.

Duty-free limits for alcohol and tobacco will remain unchanged.

Canadian shoppers still will not be allowed to bring anything back to Canada duty-free for trips less than 24 hours. Americans, currently do have a same-day duty free allowance in Canada • it is $200.

Because of the exchange rate, less expensive gas and greater product diversity, Canadian shoppers have been flocking to day and weekend “shopping holidays” in Western New York. Ed Healy, vice president of marketing for Visit Buffalo Niagara, said the new legislation would make cross-border shopping even more attractive.

“Our goal is to get people to come here more often, stay longer and leave more money behind, and I think this legislation will help us do just that,” he said.

Shoppers agreed.. “We try to come over every month or two months, but this might bring us over just a little bit more,” said Vanessa Cheropita of St. Catharines, Ontario.

Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster said the change would be tremendously helpful for his city. He credited cross-border shopping for higher-than-expected sales tax revenue for the city and county.

Source: Democrat & Chronicle

3/27/12-HomeGoods to open store in Victor, to hire 60

HomeGoods, a national off-price home furnishing chain, is slated to open a store in Victor on April 15.

The 25,000-square-foot store will be located at Victor Crossing and Commerce Drive, officials said. It will mark the second HomeGoods location in the Rochester market. There is also a store at Roseland Center in Canandaigua. The opening of the Victor store is expected to produce 60 full- and part-time positions.

HomeGoods has more than 300 locations nationwide. The chain is operated by the TJX Cos. Inc., the parent company of T.J. Maxx and Marshalls Inc.

HomeGoods operates the home fashions section of Marshalls and T.J. Maxx. The chain is known for its variety of home fashions that are 20 percent to 60 percent less than typical department store prices, the company said.

“We are excited to open a new HomeGoods in Victor,” said Ken Canestrari, president of HomeGoods. “With value playing a critical role in consumers’ shopping decisions, we are confident that our off-price concept of offering high-quality home fashions at incredible values will make HomeGoods a welcome addition to the area.”

Source: Rochester Business Journal

3/15/12-Rental real estate market still strong in Rochester

National studies by real estate investment company HomeVestors of America, Inc., in conjunction with real estate forecaster Local Market Monitor, continue to identify Rochester as one of the best cities in the country for rental property investors, based on first quarter rankings of the nation’s top 100 markets.

“There are good opportunities for investors in every one of the top 100 markets,” said HomeVestors President David Hicks. “But investors would be wise to take into account other dynamics for the ideal timing to enter the market. Strong growth rates and higher risk-return premiums usually point to the best markets to invest in now.”

Hicks said since home prices in cities like Rochester are low and their economies and employment opportunities are growing, they are the best cities to invest in rental properties right now. In addition, the fact that Rochester that did not experience a housing boom (or bust) also makes it one of the best to invest in.

“I’m not surprised by that, although I think there are different levels of what that means,” said Michael Liess, principal broker and owner of RE/MAX Custom in Rochester.

Without a real estate bust, area home values have stayed in check, Liess said, noting that values been rising slightly, between 1 and 2 percent a year.

“I don’t think home values here will be devastated like they are in other areas of the country,” Liess explained. “A lot of people make a living on out of town investors, which is not entirely bad.”

Liess said Rochester property investors come from all over the world to take advantage of Rochester’s high rental return rate. Landlords and property management companies that maintain and improve properties are good for the neighborhood and good for the investor.

But many rental property investors are uneducated and unsure of what they’re getting into, Liess explained.

“A lot of them are coming from a place where you couldn’t touch a house for under hundreds of thousands of dollars, and here they can pay cash for a house,” he said. “The downside to that is people who are uneducated about what it takes to be a landlord or property investor can have unrealistic expectations, and don’t understand what they’re getting into.”

Thomas Gangemi of Rock Beach Real Estate said Rochester has a higher quality of rental real estate because the city holds landlords to a higher standard.

“All I see is investment purchases,” Gangemi said. “There are a lot more investors purchasing homes than there are buyers or first-time buyers.”

Gangemi used the Park Avenue area as an example of an area dominated by investor homeowners renting their property to tenants.

“I don’t think it’s a negative connotation,” he said. “Park Avenue is one of the most desirable places to be.”

Gangemi said the city’s certificate of occupancy requirement helps keep slum lords out of Rochester and rents stable.

The city describes the certificate of occupancy as being an assurance to a prospective buyer, current owner or tenant that the building substantially conforms to repair and maintenance standards as of the date of issuance. Other cities may have lower rent rates but without a certificate of occupancy, tenants don’t know what they’re getting.

“It keeps rents high, but since property prices are low it’s a good rental property market here,” Gangemi explained.

Hicks said the combination of a growing economy that forces rents higher, and the continuation of low housing prices, makes this the best time in the past 30 years for investors to purchase home rental properties.

Source: Rochester Business Journal