Among the cheapest housing markets in the country, the USDA will help lower your payments if you buy a home in this undervalued market that is also a quaint, lakeside community in western New York.
With young families and a suburban feel, this small town is said to be a great place to raise children. Climb the 61-foot tall Dunkirk Lighthouse for an exceptional view of Lake Eerie. Spend the day swimming at the beach at Point Gratiot Park, or boating and fishing from the Dunkirk City Pier. There’s even a Lucille Ball Desi Arnaz Museum, featuring sets and costumes of the classic show.
The westernmost city in New York State, Dunkirk is located in Chautauqua County, 40 miles south of Buffalo and 30 miles from the Pennsylvania border. Over time, the city has evolved from a railroad hub where goods could be transferred from land to sea, to a bustling steel town, to its present day status as a quaint lakeside community.
In recent years, Dunkirk has invested in bringing new and expanded business opportunities to the city. The planned development of a larger cold storage warehouse, and a project by Empire State Brands to bring hops, malted barley, wheat, rye and other grain products to market, were expected to create hundreds of new jobs starting in 2021.
The Dunkirk Lighthouse remains active and in service, and overlooks Lake Erie. It’s a popular tourist spot, where hearty visitors can take in an exceptional view from the top observation deck. It also features museums, military memorabilia and a series of ghost tours.
The city’s summer music scene – which offers live performances at various lakeside locations throughout the season – has received regional accolades. The music nights compliment the city’s farmer’s market, movies on the lake, lobster fest, and the National Walleye Fishing Tournament. Several local parks offer sports, picnic spots, a splash park, playgrounds, and swimming.
The Dunkirk City School District serves 2,000 k-12 students at five schools. Higher education opportunities are available nearby. The SUNY-Fredonia is just 2 miles away. Jamestown Community College and Jamestown Business College are about 26 miles away. And Erie Community College and SUNY-Buffalo are 36-39 miles away.
The median age in Dunkirk is 41.9. The median household income is $36,282, and the median property value is $67,700.
Dunkirk hopes to attract first time homebuyers, as homeowners are tax payers and help strengthen the local economy. The Chautauqua Home Rehabilitation & Improvement and Corp. (CHRIC) is a HUD-approved housing counseling agency that helps first time home buyers plan and budget for home ownership. The city of Dunkirk has in recent years worked with CHRIC to provide up to $4,000 in down payment and closing cost assistance to income-eligible buyers.
First time home buyers looking to purchase a home in Dunkirk may also benefit from the USDA’s down payment assistance program for rural communities. The agency’s Section 502 Direct Loan Program offers zero down loans with a 3.25% interest rate to low- and very low-income home buyers. It also offers a subsidy to reduce the mortgage payment, which can bring the interest rate down to 1%. Loan terms are generally 33 or 38 years. Use the USDA’s eligibility tool to find out if you qualify, and if the property you’re interested in is within the program’s boundaries. Home purchases in Chautauqua County made through this program cannot exceed $336,500.