A Week In Business

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Hospital Conducting Survey
BERLIN – In late August, Atlantic General Hospital will begin conducting a two-week long community needs assessment. The hospital has secured the assistance of RKM Research and Communications, Inc., a market research firm to conduct the research on the hospital’s behalf.
The 25-minute telephone survey will be administered to randomly selected households in Worcester County, and portions of lower Sussex County, Del., eastern Wicomico County and northern Accomack County in Virginia.
The purpose of the survey is to obtain opinions concerning healthcare in our communities so that Atlantic General Hospital and Health System can better plan to meet residents’ healthcare needs in the future.
All responses to the survey will be kept confidential, hospital officials state. Atlantic General will receive only summary information with statistics in its report from RKM. The information is crucial for planning strategic initiatives and for providing health education to the public.
“We want to know what residents think about their healthcare options,” said Kim Justice, vice president of planning and operations. “We value their opinions and hope that anyone called by RKM will choose to participate in the survey.”

‘Seller’s Market’ Near
BERLIN – A new survey by the National Association of Realtors® found that a majority of renters say homeownership is one of their highest priorities for the future and they are thinking more about purchasing a home now than in past years. Given that information, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the survey also found that Americans overwhelmingly believe owning a home is a good financial decision.
“Renters are increasingly recognizing the benefits of homeownership,” said Sheila Dodson, Coastal Association of Realtors (CAR) Executive Director. “In addition to its many social benefits – such as providing a stable, safe environment – the financial benefits of owning a home are even more apparent to renters now. In many parts of the state it is actually cheaper to own a home than it is to rent and the selection of homes to choose from is greater. Homeownership also is one of the best ways to build financial security over the long term. In most cases, the benefits of homeownership far outweigh the benefits of renting.”
The 2013 National Housing Pulse Survey, which measures consumers’ attitudes and concerns about housing opportunities, found that Americans’ outlook on the housing market is improving. Nearly four in 10 Americans (38 percent) identified an increase in activity within their local housing market in the past year, compared to just 22 percent who reported a slowdown in activity. Respondents were also less concerned than in the past about the drop in home values and foreclosures.
The survey also found that more than two-thirds of those surveyed said now is a good time to buy. CAR believes that despite a recent rise in mortgage rates and lower home inventory levels, affordability conditions remain favorable for buyers. Overall on the lower shore, home purchases are up 22% over last year with many being first time buyers as well as returning buyers.
“Our market is on its way to being a seller’s market as inventory is shrinking. We have also seen an increase in sale prices in some areas and ranges,” said Dodson. “Buyer traffic is up from this time last year, so it’s evident that people want to be homeowners.”
Primary Residential Mortgage, Inc. Branch Manager Jason Cook said there is god reason for optimism in the local market.
“There is a lot of positive buzz in the market, said Cook. “Home values are on the rise, multiple bids are being placed on the same properties and overall there is increased activity as more people are pre-qualifying to look at properties.”
Cook said there are several programs available to help those prepared to buy a home in today’s market. HomePath financing, available on Fannie Mae owned properties, offers significant benefits through low down payments, no mortgage insurance and expanded seller contributions.
The HomePath Renovation Mortgage provides the funds to purchase and renovate in one loan. You can use the financing of your choice from any lender including your local bank, credit union or other financial institutions.
“There are several properties on the Eastern Shore of Maryland and in Delaware that are eligible for and advertise HomePath financing,” said Cook. “This program helps you get a great price on a bank-owned home, low payments because you don’t have to pay for mortgage insurance and can buy with as little as 3% down. It truly provides the opportunity for families to buy the home of their dreams.”
CAR has a few tips for renters or move up buyers looking for a new place to call home. First, know your credit history and understand how the credit system works. Next, do your research. Home inventories are low in many areas and sellers are receiving multiple bids, so it’s imperative to be ready to make an offer when you see a home you like. Then, identify neighborhoods that you like and think about what you need and want in a home.
“Most importantly, contact a Realtor in your area,” said Dodson. “Realtors are the most trusted resource for real estate information and can give buyers the advantage they need in today’s market.”

Volunteer Managed Named
SNOW HILL — Kelly Brinkley has been named the new Worcester County volunteer services manager.
Brinkley earned a bachelor’s degree in marketing from Wesleyan College in Georgia. She has extensive experience working with school systems and diverse nonprofit agencies.
Brinkley currently acts as the parent coordinator for the Wicomico County Middle Schools STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) program. She also provides financial management counseling in the community with Oak Ridge Baptist Church. She has served as the Tiger Woods Foundation’s Admissions Chairman for the annual AT&T National Golf Tournament in Bethesda, Maryland, served on the Delmarva Chicken Festival committee, and chaired both the annual Memory Walk for the Alzheimer’s Association and the scholarship fund for Camp Odyssey. She served as member of the Wicomico County Chamber of Commerce marketing committee and volunteered with HALO Ministries, a faith based ministry providing programs and services for the homeless.
“Working with nonprofits, developing school partnerships, fundraising, memory walks and church ministries have all prepared me to serve Worcester County as the new volunteer services manager,” Brinkley said. “It’s all given me a good perspective on the needs of both citizens and employees in the community. I understand the need for these fundamental services, because I’ve immersed myself in their causes, and there is a real need for volunteers working together in these diverse arenas to keep our communities moving forward and thriving. Volunteers are part of why the quality of life here on the Eastern Shore can’t be beat.”
Brinkley took over for former Volunteer Services Manager Cyndy Howell, who retired this summer. Before joining Worcester County, she worked at the One Stop Job Market in Salisbury in the Employment Division of the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.
The mission of Volunteer Services is to involve residents in local government by promoting volunteerism by both individuals and groups. The department recruits, trains and supervises more than 500 volunteers serving in various departments and agencies throughout Worcester County. The goal of volunteer services is to build and sustain stronger and more viable communities.

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