GRBblog

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.


Expertise.com Names GRB Top Rochester Refinance Mortgage Provider

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.

Mortgage Refinance Companies near me

Contact our Mortgage team for a home loan or refinance.


First-time Homebuyer Mortgage Program Offers Up To $10,000 in Grants

Homebuyer Dream Program logo

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

Important information

  • 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.


Refinancing was Hot in 2020, is There Still Opportunity in 2021?

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.


New Conforming, FHA Loan Limits for 2021

House for sale with "for Sale" sign in front

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 Celebrates Appearance on 2020 Top 100 List

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.

Top 100 award logo with the Rochester skyline.

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.


GRB Earns Emerald Award from U.S. SBA for Small Business Lending

Picture of Rochester skyline with GRB and SBA logos

Genesee Regional Bank is pleased to be recognized by the U.S. Small Business Administration with an Emerald Award for its lending activities for the period from Oct. 2019 through Oct. 2020.

The bank closed 45 loans totaling $19.4 million. According to the SBA, those loans supported 851 jobs in our community. As published in a recent issue of the “Rochester Business Journal,” this also makes GRB the top SBA lender in the Rochester area.

In addition to the new businesses and business expansions made possible through SBA lending, GRB also assisted more than 577 local businesses with their Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans. Nearly 35% of these businesses were not GRB customers, but they needed help. We created a process from the ground up and started submitting loans the moment the SBA opened its online portal.

Six months later, we continue to work with these businesses to submit their paperwork for loan forgiveness to ensure that these employers — businesses on which this community depends — can continue to be here for all of us.

This aligns with the Independent Community Bankers of America President and CEO Rebecca Rainey Romero’s assessment of community banks’ response to the pandemic and overall capabilities in a recent article in “American Banker.” In fact, Romero points out that, “Small Business Administration data shows that community banks made nearly 2.8 million PPP loans — more than half of the program’s total loans — that helped save millions of jobs.”

“The 5,000 community banks across the nation continue to get the job done without fail while serving as the backbone of local economies through nimble decision-making, personal relationships and yes, technological innovation,” added Romero.

As a community bank, we don’t have a branch on every corner. You won’t find us on your stock ticker, and our name isn’t on a sports arena (well, maybe a Little League field).

But we are proud to say that you will find GRB right here, right when you need us. GRB remains Here. For You.


Your Home Loan Details are Public Record and Scammers Know How to Use Them

Illustration with house in red and "SCAM" on the front.

Almost from the minute you close on your new home or home equity line of credit (HELOC), you receive a multitude of offers for dozens of home-related services. It’s all part of being a new home owner or signaling that you may be ready to start making home improvements. That is, until the offers cross the line into scams.

Like it or not, information about a home purchase or second loan (HELOC), and the terms and conditions of those loans, is recorded among the land records in the jurisdiction where the property is located. With many jurisdictions offering online access to public records, scammers use home loan details to perpetrate any one of a number of scams.

Scammer goals

Typically, these scams use the public details about your home loan to try and gain access to more of your personal information (credit card numbers, bank accounts, social security number, etc.) or to simply bilk you out of your hard-earned money by making you buy a product or service you don’t need. Scammers will often use your lender’s name and the loan amount to look “official.” Some even create fake documents and websites using your lender’s logo or may try to impersonate your lender in phone calls to gain your trust.

“Buying a home is such a big step and everyone wants to do everything right. Scammers take advantage of that state of mind and leverage the few details they have from public records to prey on home owners,” said Megan Antonitto, Genesee Regional Bank’s Risk Management Officer. “We’re even seeing an increase in targeted scams for individuals who have just taken out HELOCs. It’s a significant problem.”

But the good news is that there are usually good clues in the communication that will tell you whether you really need to take action or not. Click for an example of one of these offers for a closer look at some of the red flags.

Common scams

  • Purchasing unneeded mortgage protection insurance, home warranties, etc. – While there are legitimate insurers, many of these offers are phrased to appear as if the mortgage insurance the home owner may have purchased through the lending process is inadequate and additional insurance is required. Home warranty offers are also common. While some of the offers received may actually provide a legitimate service, they are usually not necessary and home owners should not feel pressured to act on them. Always contact your lender if you have questions about your mortgage or HELOC terms.
  • Unpaid utility bills – A “representative” from a utility company calls the new home owner explaining that the previous owner of the home still has outstanding bills due. In a threatening tone, the representative tells the new home owner to send a check or pay by credit card to eliminate the debt. Otherwise, the electricity will be cut off or the needed service (cable, water, etc.) won’t be provided. This is a scam. Utility companies do not do business this way. If you still have questions, reach out to the utility directly by calling a number found on their website.
  • Mortgage payment administration – After closing, the homeowner receives a solicitation from a company that promises to administer payments for a bi-monthly mortgage which promises to save them “lots of money” over time. This intermediary administrator charges a hefty processing fee and a smaller—but not insignificant—monthly fee, which is often not revealed until it’s too late.

Stay on high alert

Antonitto recommends that new home owners be on high alert in the weeks and months right after they close on a mortgage or HELOC. Legitimate information the home owner may receive as a follow up to their loan transaction often complicates thw situation.

“Home owners do receive additional communications from their lender, perhaps a notification saying their loan has been sold or even a satisfaction survey, in the weeks following their closing. It can be difficult to tell what is real and what is not,” said Antonitto. “If a home owner is having trouble discerning whether a letter or notification is genuine, they should contact their lender immediately. At GRB, contact our Fraud Tream.”

While the introductory offers for landscaping services can be helpful, home owners need to be vigilant. Scammers know just how to use your home purchase details against you.  


GRB Community Give Back Supports Local Businesses

The last few months have left nearly everyone wondering what we can do to help our local businesses recover. As a community bank, this is a particularly important question for GRB. We eliminated fees, deferred loans and supported a number of not-for-profit organizations. We focused on processing the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans as quickly as possible so we could bring money back into the local community.

Thumbnail for a video with GRB Community Give Back

But even more inspiration would came from our Board of Directors, which suggested a way to both support the local business community and thank our employees for their extraordinary efforts over the last few months. The GRB Community Give Back program was born, with the bank giving each employee money to spend on gift cards from participating GRB business customers. From gift shops to roofing companies and electrical contractors to restaurants, nearly 60 local businesses were selected!

On the day we distributed the gift cards to our employees, we had sunshine, balloons, an ice cream social (distance) event, as well as the opportunity to see our work-from-home team members and their families as they picked up their gift cards. The day was absolutely perfect!

There is a long road ahead for all of us, but we hope the GRB Community Give Back program is another step in the right direction to help our community stay #ROCstrong!


In a World of Virtual Meetings, Community Still Connects Us

When GRB provides a donation to an organization, we usually like to do it in person. We invite the organization to our offices, give them an opportunity to meet our employees, and spend a few minutes sharing what they do everyday to help the community. Sometimes, this generates a volunteer or an idea for another fundraiser. These opportunities to connect are important to us as a community bank.

Thumbnail for a video with GRB logo and Mary Cariola Children's Center logo

While the pandemic has prevented in-person events, we still feel it’s important to remain engaged with our community. So, we turned to technology. We recently hosted a virtual check presentation with the wonderful leadership team at Mary Cariola Children’s Center. Mary Cariola has been around for 71 years and provides education and life skills to youth with disabilities in a 10-county region.

GRB’s donated $5,000 to help the organization purchase much-needed Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) that students and staff members need every day to remain safe.

While we wish we could have welcomed the Mary Cariola team in person, our virtual event did remind us that we can still make an impact, we can still be part of the community, we can still help out – even if we have to do it virtually for awhile.


As the Region Reopens, GRB Remains Focused on Service and Safety

We are happy to announce that GRB will be reopening its lobby locations in Pittsford and Greece at 8:55 a.m. on Monday, July 6 for regular hours.

We appreciate your patience over the last few months and we look forward to resuming our operations.

What to Expect

For in-branch transactions, we are taking every precaution to ensure a safe environment for our team members and our customers. Please be aware of the following safety protocols, in accordance with New York state requirements, when entering the branches:

  • Stop at the sign-in table first. Sanitizer will be available for your convenience.
  • Make sure to bring a mask with you in case social distancing requirements cannot be maintained.
  • If you are wearing a mask, you may be asked to remove it briefly for identification purposes.
  • Our personal bankers will have Plexiglas shields in place for all transactions.

Additional Considerations

Since March 23, GRB has offered deferred payments on consumer loans and suspended fees associated with ATM withdrawals, service charges on checking and savings accounts, and more. As of Monday, July 6, all fee waivers will be discontinued. For a complete list, please check our website.

Drive-thru Service and Online Banking Options

Computer and mobile phone with GRB logo

GRB’s drive-thru and online banking services remain a fast and easy way to manage your banking needs, and we encourage you to continue using them to minimize branch traffic whenever possible.

Please, continue to stay safe and we look forward to seeing you.