Student entries wanted for Fair Housing Calendar Contest

BERLIN — The Coastal Association of REALTORS® (CAR) is encouraging local teachers to participate in the annual Fair Housing Calendar Contest, which sends the winning student to Annapolis for a meeting with the governor or other state official.   Sponsored by the Maryland Association of REALTORS® (MAR), the contest is a means for REALTORS® across […]

Over 100 local Realtors sign letters to oppose Somerset property tax increase

PRINCESS ANNE — The Coastal Association of REALTORS® (CAR) – which serves REALTOR® members in Somerset, Wicomico, and Worcester counties – submitted over 100 signed letters to the Somerset County Commissioners in opposition of the 13.1 percent property tax increase proposed for Fiscal Year 2016.

“Too often, government bodies turn to the real estate industry to address their budgetary shortfalls,” said Vicki Harmon, president of the CAR board of directors. “In Somerset County, they’re turning to an industry that’s already struggling.”

According to CAR’s local housing statistics derived from the Multiple Listing Service, only 176 residential properties were sold by CAR members in Somerset County in 2014, compared to 928 in Wicomico and 1,759 in Worcester. CAR members believe that an increased property tax rate, on top of increased flood insurance rates coming later this year from FEMA, as well as additional property taxes paid by those who live in municipalities, are detrimental to the local real estate industry.

Coastal Association of Realtors optimistic that housing sales will continue to grow

BERLIN — Local sellers of real estate have a healthy sense of optimism for 2015 as figures from the Coastal Association of Realtors (CAR) reflect continued growth in the housing market in the Tri-County area.

Over the past two years, single family home sales in Somerset, Wicomico, and Worcester counties have increased by 28.6 percent. In the same period of time, single family home contracts, or pending sales, have increased by 35.5 percent. New listings of single family homes have increased by 25.1 percent.

“It is reassuring to see the local housing market get back on its feet, while local Realtors step up to the plate, ready to provide top notch service to local buyers and sellers,” said Sheila Dodson, executive director of CAR, adding that rock bottom mortgage interest rates have been an incredible boon for the industry over the past year.

Recent data released by Freddie Mac showed the 30-year fixed-rate average slid to 3.8 percent, which is the lowest level of the year. That’s down from 4.47 percent a year ago. The 30-year fixed rate has remained below four percent for all but two weeks since mid-October.

“We saw solid interest and activity throughout the summer months, and the recent drop in interest rates has created a welcome sense of urgency and affordability,” said Lauren Bunting, a Realtor with Bunting Realty in Berlin. “With the lower interest rates, buyers can up their purchase price and it opens them up to more options when looking for a new home.”

According to Lawrence Yun, chief economist of the National Association of Realtors, inflationary pressure may force the Federal Reserve System to raise short-term rates in the first half of 2015. Mortgage interest rates are projected to increase to slightly below five percent next year and reach six percent in 2016.

The average sales price of single family homes since 2012 is up in Worcester County by 0.7 percent and down in Wicomico and Somerset counties by 2 percent and 11.5 percent, respectively.

“The decreases in average sales prices have been attributed to an influx in the availability of distressed properties and other bargains,” said Vicki Harmon, president of the CAR board of directors. “As these properties are removed from the local market, we expect to see home prices increase steadily, which is great news for folks who have been waiting to sell their homes.”

Real estate agents learn how to sell potentially stigmatized properties during continuing education class on Halloween

You may want to know, but real estate agents are not required to tell buyers whether a house was the scene of a crime, death or other notorious activity.