Welcome to the GRBblog! Get to know GRB, Rochester's only locally owned and managed commercial bank. A commercial bank, but also a community bank, with an entrepreneurial spirit about everything we do. We're committed to Growing Rochester Business and making our community a better place to live and work.
The GRBblog is where we post bank news and information, stories about the great organizations we support, and share relevant local and national business news.
Roughly 20 percent of older Americans fall prey to financial exploitation losing on average $120,000, or $3 billion every year, according to a study from the AARP Public Policy Institute.
Be on the Lookout for Elder Financial Abuse Scams
The unfortunate reality is that older adults are attractive targets for financial exploitation because they possess more wealth than other potential victims.
With World Elder Abuse Awareness Day marked this year on June 15, it is a good time to provide seniors and their family members with tips to guard against financial exploitation.
At GRB we take a proactive approach to detecting and preventing financial fraud against older customers through routine employee training and the use of technology to spot red flags and report suspicious activity to authorities.
We encourage everyone to remain vigilant regarding common schemes and scams, like those below.
Medicare/Health Insurance Scams
It is difficult to imagine someone preying on those in need of medical assistance, but Medicare fraud is quite common. Criminals posing as Medicare or medical supply reps may try to steal a victim’s identity or offer bogus services to bill Medicare.
Another COVID-19 related scam centers around a FEMA program to assist with funeral expenses. While this is a legitimate program, and you can reach out to FEMA to apply for these benefits, citizens should be mindful that:
- FEMA will not contact you until you call or apply for assistance.
- The government won’t ask you to pay anything to get this benefit.
Never share personal or financial information with anyone who contacts you out of the blue.
Zoom Phishing Emails and Internet Fraud
At the onset of the pandemic con artists registered thousands of fake Zoom-related internet domains to send phony emails, texts or social media messages. These bogus links led consumers to inadvertently download malware (malicious software) that exposed their personal information.
Internet scammers often send fake text messages alleging trouble with an internet account, credit card, bank account or shopping order. Many even contain realistic looking logos to lure you into clicking on a link and divulging personal information.
To limit your exposure, avoid clicking on links from unsolicited emails or texts. If you suspect a problem with an account, contact the bank or service provider directly.
Seniors schooled in etiquette may frown upon “hanging up the phone” or simply saying “no” to unsolicited calls. But those good manners can leave the door open to criminals. Three notable examples include:
- The pigeon drop. Con artists pretend to share found money in exchange for a “good faith” payment drawn from the contacted person’s bank account.
- The fake accident ploy. Con artists create a false story that a loved one is injured and needs money for medical expenses. Don’t trust these callers, verify information with family members directly.
- Charity scams. Con artists solicit funds on behalf of a charity they are not affiliated with or that is not legit. Remember, if it’s too good to be true it probably is. If you want to give go directly to the source.
Scams are always changing. The Federal Trade Commission has a “scam alert” page with up-to-date scam information at consumer.ftc.gov/scam-alerts.
And as trusted stewards of our customer’s financial data, feel free to reach out to GRB. We train our employees on fraud prevention techniques and can help you spot potential scams. If you suspect financial fraud, we can help you take appropriate measures to protect your account.
We are proud to announce that the Rochester Business Journal and the Rochester Chapter of Financial Executives International have selected GRB President and CEO Phil Pecora as a Financial Leader 2021. Pecora was recognized in the category of Commercial Banker.
Financial Leaders 2021 recognizes financial professionals who have made outstanding contributions to their organizations and to the Greater Rochester community during the past year. Nominees were judged based on their professional accomplishment within their category and on their civic commitment to the Rochester community.
We can’t think of anyone more deserving of this recognition and are proud to celebrate Phil Pecora and his commitment and endless effort to support the Rochester community. Congratulations!
GRB is pleased to announce it has once again been named to the “Best Companies to Work for in New York” state awards. This is the eighth consecutive year that GRB has made the list. The awards are decided based in large part on responses from employee surveys and is sponsored by the New York State Society for Human Resource Management (NYS-SHRM).
For more information about the award, visit the Best Companies website.
A Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) is one of the lowest-cost sources of funding available to homeowners. Unlike a loan, which provides a lump sum of funds and a fixed interest rate, a home equity line of credit is a revolving credit line. It allows the borrower to take out money against the credit line up to a preset limit, make payments, and then take money out again as needed. The rate is variable.
With interest rates among the lowest in recent history, securing a HELOC may be a good way for homeowners to reach any number of personal or financial goals. Homeowners regularly use a HELOC to:
- Make home improvements
- Pay tuition
- Consolidate debt
- Set aside emergency cash
- Start a business
- Take a vacation
Beginning spring 2021, GRB is offering a HELOC special with a low introductory rate and flexible terms.
There are many factors to consider when deciding whether a home equity line of credit is a good borrowing option for you: think about how you will use the money, what might happen to interest rates, your long-term financial plans, and your tolerance for risk with the HELOC’s fluctuating rates.
Contact a GRB Personal Banker to discuss your goals and how a HELOC may be part of the solution.
S&P Global Market Intelligence report ranks GRB no. 23 nationwide for banks with up to $3 billion is assets
GRB is proud to be recognized by S&P Global Market Intelligence as one of the “Best-performing Community Banks for 2020” for banks up to $3 billion in assets. Ranked at no. 23, GRB is the only New York state community bank on the nationwide list.
To determine the ranking, S&P calculated scores for more than 4,000 financial institutions on six weighted metrics: pre-tax return on tangible common equity, efficiency ratio, net interest margin, operating revenue growth, leverage ratio and nonperforming assets and loans 90 days past due as a percentage of total assets, and the net of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans. GRB performed well in all categories, delivering an efficiency ratio of 46.03%, keeping non-performing assets to 0.30% as a percent of total assets, and delivering a return on tangible common equity of 25.83%.
Meeting 2020’s challenges
“In a year filled with so much uncertainty, we are proud that GRB was able to maintain its stability, make significant gains in efficiency, and serve the local community as one of the region’s leading SBA PPP loan providers,” said GRB President and CEO Philip L. Pecora. “Our previous years’ investments in technology and ability to develop a committed, high-performing workforce allowed us to respond quickly to the PPP program and simultaneously move forward with other lending activities, deposit growth, and support a record-breaking year for our residential mortgage team.”
“Despite going through a challenging year filled with economic uncertainty, we have seen community banks and credit unions play a significant role in their regional markets, providing support and essential services needed in their local communities. I’m thrilled to see these community banks and credit unions thrive in a challenging time and proud to recognize these top performing local financial institutions in our annual rankings,” said Jimmy Pittenger, Senior Director of Financial Institutions at S&P Global Market Intelligence.
Relationships made the difference
Pecora points out that it was the bank’s strong relationships with its customers that provided the foundation for fully leveraging its technology infrastructure and shifting to a remote work environment for more than 70% of the bank’s employees.
“We take pride in being the kind of banking partner that knows its customers intimately and proactively works with them to face challenges and take advantage of new opportunities,” said Pecora. “In an environment like 2020, those relationships were critical. Even though things were changing for us and for our customers on a daily basis, they knew we were focused on doing the right thing for them, for our employees and for this community.”
Focusing on recovery
In addition to processing PPP loans for 575 small businesses, 2020 also brought GRB a number of other achievements: earning Emerald Award status from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and being the top SBA lender in the Rochester region, being named to the “Rochester Chamber Top 100” list of fastest-growing privately owned companies, and being recognized as one of the “Best Companies to Work for in New York” by the Society for Human Resource Management. The bank was also a leading purchase mortgage bank lender in the region and was recently named a top residential mortgage refinance provider by Expertise.com.
“We were well-positioned in 2020 to fulfill the rapidly changing needs of our customers and still provide opportunities for our employees and shareholders,” said Pecora. “We know that strength will be needed in 2021 as we continue to support the recovery efforts of the small businesses and community members in the Rochester region.”
Read the full S&P report.
Genesee Regional Bank is pleased to announce it has been recognized by professional services review website Expertise.com as one of the Top Refinance Mortgage companies in Rochester, NY.
Expertise.com scored GRB on more than 25 variables across five categories including availability, qualifications, reputation, experience, and professionalism.
Expertise.com finds and reviews the top service professionals in over 200 industries across the U.S. Each month, the company researches more than 60,000 businesses to help customers find the best-qualified professional for their needs. Categories available for analysis include legal, business, personal, and home services.
Contact our Mortgage team for a home loan or refinance.
As a bank, GRB is able to work with the Federal Home Loan Bank of New York (FHLBNY) to provide grant assistance to qualified first-time homebuyers. The Homebuyer Dream ProgramTM provides grants of up to $10,000 towards the purchase of a home in New York. This is a program that is only available to banks, mortgage brokers are not able to access grant funds for this program.
The FHLBNY is also returning to the allotment program this year, providing lenders with a set amount of funding and helping avoid the “first come, first served” difficulties many buyers experienced in 2020.
The program officially kicks off on May 3.
Homebuyer Dream Program* (HDP) eligibility requirements
- Must be first-time homebuyers (have not owned a home individually or with a spouse in the last three years)
- Reside and purchase a home in New York
- Have a household income at or below 80% of area median income (i.e., in Monroe and Onondaga county, 1 or 2 person households, up to $68,080. 3-person households up to $78,292)
- Complete an accredited homeownership course
- Meet the income and credit requirements for the program
- Have the minimum equity contribution of $1,000 toward purchase of the home
- Remain in the home for five years or repay a portion of the grant funds back to FHLBNY
- Up to $9,500 in grant funding is available to be applied to down payment and closing costs
- Up to $500 in grant funding is available to offset the cost of the homeownership course
Find out if you qualify
For more information, contact our mortgage professionals.
Please note, the information in this post refers to the 2021 HDP. The Federal Home Loan Bank of New York assesses the HDP on an annual basis and the program is subject to change. Please go to our Mortgage Loans page for more information on the HDP and other grant and lending options.
* Homebuyer Dream Program is a trademark of the Federal Home Loan Bank of New York.
Since late 2018, mortgage rates have been trending down across the board. If you have an existing home mortgage, lower rates can still spell opportunity.
Mortgage refinancing can offer homeowners a number of benefits:
- Lowering the monthly payment
- Lowering the amount of interest owed over the life of the loan
- Converting an adjustable rate mortgage to one with a lower fixed rate
- Taking cash out of the equity on the home for improvements or other investments
- Eliminating Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI)
The “cash out refinance” enjoyed tremendous popularity in 2020, with homeowners using the funds to make significant improvements to kitchens and bathrooms, and add swimming pools and outdoor living spaces. The current pandemic certainly contributed to the desire to make our homes as comfortable as possible, inside and out, and the cash out refinance made that possible.
With mortgage rates at near-historic lows, does it make sense to refinance now? While there is still uncertainty regarding the pandemic, it does seem unlikely that rates will stay this low forever.
Use our free mortgage calculator, contact GRB’s mortgage team at 585.427.9200 or reach out to us online to see if the refinance numbers add up to opportunity for you.
The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) and Federal Housing Administration (FHA) have announced new maximum conforming loan limits and FHA loan limits for 2021.
Conforming Loan Limits for 2021
In Central and Western New York:
- The maximum conforming FHFA loan limit for one-unit properties will be $548,250, an increase from $510,400 in 2020.
- Multi-family property conforming limits increased as follows: Two-family properties are up to $702,000, three-unit homes up to $848,500 and the new limit for four-unit properties is $1,054,500.
The Housing and Economic Recovery Act (HERA) requires that the baseline conforming loan limit be adjusted each year for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to reflect changes in the average U.S. home price. The percentage increase in the maximum conforming loan limit follows the Housing Price Index for the prior four quarters.
“The annual FHFA adjustment is important for homebuyers, providing better financing options for loans that would traditionally have fallen into the ‘jumbo’ category,” said GRB’s SVP, Residential Mortgage Manager Mike Pulver.
For new loan applications or applications already in process, the loan amounts will be subject to 2020 limits as long as the loan closes by Dec. 31. Loans closing on Jan. 1 or after will fall under the 2021 limits.
FHA Loan Limits
The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) announced new maximum loan limits for FHA home mortgages in 2021. In Central and Western New York:
- The maximum FHA loan limit for one-unit properties will be $356,362, an increase from $331,760 in 2020.
- Multi-family FHA loan limits increased as follows: Two-family properties are up to $456,275, three-unit homes up to $551,500 and the new limit for four-unit properties is $685,400.
Changes to FHA loan limits are linked to the Housing and Economic Recovery Act (HERA), which requires that the baseline conforming loan limit be adjusted each year for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to reflect changes in the average U.S. home price. FHA loan limits are typically 65% of the conforming loan limit.
“The annual adjustment is important for homebuyers, providing better financing options for those purchasing a first home,” said GRB’s SVP, Residential Mortgage Manager Mike Pulver. “In Rochester, our market has been extremely competitive. The increase in the FHA loan amount will be crucial in helping potential buyers keep pace with the increase in home values.”
In order to use the new loan limits, an FHA case number must be assigned on or after Jan. 1, 2021. Those with a case number assigned up through Dec. 31, 2020 will use the current year’s loan limits.
Contact GRB’s Mortgage Team with any questions.
GRB is pleased to announce it was named no. 83 on the Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce “2020 Top 100” list. GRB is the only bank on the Top 100 list.
To be eligible for the Top 100, businesses must be privately held, headquartered in the nine-county Rochester region, and have earned at least $1 million in revenue in each of the three most recent fiscal years. The Top 100 is computed based on revenue growth, taking into account both dollar and percentage growth.
We are also proud to note how many GRB customers and partners are on the Top 100. The exciting new ideas brought to market by newer companies on the list and the consistent growth of those who make the list year after year are a testament to the strength and innovative spirit of this region. Congratulations to everyone on the list for 2020!
And a sincere thank you to our GRB employees. Your hard work and commitment to serving our customers made this achievement possible. You are appreciated each and every day!
Although the information for the Top 100 was collected earlier in the year, it is not lost on us how challenging the environment has been in 2020. We are happy to be recognized as part of the Top 100, but we know there is a lot of work to do this year and into 2021 to ensure our community continues to provide opportunities and growth for individuals and businesses. Today, we take some time to celebrate. But we will be back to work in short order supporting our community.