The Harrison Group held its 28th Annual Employee Prize Drawing last month with $15,000 in cash and other prizes awarded. Group employees were asked to save their paycheck stubs for a three-month period and turn them in for the random prize drawing. This year’s $5,000 winner was Teresa Juarez of the Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites. Second prize of $3,000 was won by Tim Stahm of the Holiday Inn Oceanfront Pool Bar, and third prize, $2,000 went to Flores Rivera also of the Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites. Ten other employees won $500 each. They were, front from left, William “Sarge” Garlitz, Russell Parker, Tonya Scarborough, Thinh Klink, Michelle Thawlay and Edward Burger. The $500 winners not pictured were Ekaterina Kazakova, Iona Davidson, Tim Dennis and Rosen Petrov. Pictured, back from left, were G. Hale Harrison, Director of Operations; Stahm; Jim Luff, Hotel Operations Director; Juarez; and Mark Mayers, Restaurant Operations Director. Submitted Photo
Housing Market Update
BERLIN – Pending sales are still up and settlements are still down in the Tri-County area, according to the latest figures from the Coastal Association of REALTORS®.
Local housing statistics show that single family home settlements in September 2014, compared to September 2013, decreased in Wicomico and Somerset counties. Worcester County saw a slight increase.
In a continuing months-long trend, pending sales, or contracts, saw another upswing in Worcester and Somerset counties, and a slight decrease in Wicomico County.
Jamie Wetzelberger, a loan officer with SunTrust Mortgage in Ocean City, said she’s pleased to see contracts are on the upswing, but the decrease in actual settlement volume is largely due to delays with first time homebuyer products such as USDA Rural Housing program loans.
Once a USDA Rural Housing loan is approved by a mortgage company, it must go to the Maryland and Delaware USDA office for underwriting.
“It’s not unusual to get this type of loan approved within a 45-day timeframe, but most often when the loan gets to the state level for processing, it takes an additional 40 to 45 days for final signoff by the government program,” Wetzelberger said. “A timely settlement is typically critical to both buyers and sellers.”
The Coastal Association of REALTORS®, in partnership with the Mid Shore Board of REALTORS®, sent a letter to Acting Under Secretary Doug O’Brien in the USDA Rural Development Office in Washington, D.C. this summer expressing concern over these time delays. Recent procedural changes that resulted in a mandatory 30-day turn-around time for loans have caused various problems, including loss of locked-in interest rates, loss of contracts for REALTORS®, loss of homes for buyers, and increased costs for all parties. Processing prior to this change took about 11 days.
The three-fold increase in review time appears to be the result of an operational shift in staff resources in the Maryland and Delaware USDA office away from popular loan programs to underutilized programs with little demand.
“We’ve asked the Under Secretary to rededicate staffing resources and eliminate the 30-day processing period,” said Sheila Dodson, executive director of the Coastal Association of REALTORS®. “Our local housing statistics, in addition to feedback from our association members, prove that these turn times are impacting our industry, making it more difficult for our members to sell homes and more difficult for consumers to buy them.”
Coastal REALTORS® has not yet received a response from the Under Secretary. However Bill McGowan, state director for the Maryland and Delaware office, has indicated the turnaround time will shorten. He did not, however, specify when this would occur.
Wetzelberger said conventional mortgages on primary homes, second homes, and investor properties are processing relatively quickly – between 30 and 40 days – in spite of some of these changes. These types, she said, typically have larger down payment criteria.
New Account Executive
SALISBURY — a.s.a.p.r. Integrated Marketing announced this week that Catherine Yeager-Achey has been appointed account executive, working specifically with clients Allen Harim and McCready Foundation.
Yeager-Achey, currently working on a freelance basis, has previously worked with companies like Perdue Farms, GetNoticed PR and Cambridge International in various positions, such as assistant brand manager, communications specialist and copywriter and content manager.
“We’re so pleased to welcome Catherine onto our Allen Harim and McCready Foundation team. Her experience as a marketing communications specialist, in the chicken industry and otherwise, will prove to be invaluable as we move forward,” said Robbie Tarpley Raffish, president and founder of a.s.a.p.r. Integrated Marketing.
While serving as the Assistant Brand Manager at Perdue Farms in Salisbury, Yeager-Achey oversaw the partnerships of multiple departments, such as research, consumer relations, packaging, etc., in order to produce successful, timey product for market through well-established teamwork.
Yeager-Achey earned a Masters of Science in Integrated Marketing Communications at West Virginia University.
New COO Appointed
OCEWAN CITY — Insurance Management Group, Inc. has welcomed licensed insurance agent and broker Timothy J. Swartz as its Vice President and Chief Operating Officer.
Qualified to provide life, health, property, and casualty insurance, Swartz brings over 20 years of management and operations experience to the firm. Swartz excelled working for both insurance companies and agencies in the State of Maryland and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
“I am excited to join Insurance Management Group, and I look forward to adding a personal touch, that is the hallmark of the agency, in the day-to-day management and operations. It’s all about building relationships with people in the community of Ocean City,” said Swartz.
High Marks For SU
SALISBURY — Salisbury University has been named among the nation’s 2015 Military Friendly® Schools for the sixth consecutive year.
According to Victory Media, SU is applauded for going “above and beyond to provide transitioning veterans the best possible experience in higher education.”
Salisbury is one of only 1,600 schools featured on MilitaryFriendly.com. The list was compiled from surveys of over 10,000 U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs-approved schools nationwide and more than 4,000 student veterans.
Criteria include supportive campus programs, academic credibility, percent of military students, credit and flexibility for service, tuition assistance, graduation and employment rates, and military spouse policies.