A Week In Business

August Market Review

BERLIN – The busy season may be winding down, but the local real estate market is still hot, according to the latest figures from the Coastal Association of REALTORS® (CAR).

The Coastal Association of REALTORS® graphic shows key figures from the housing market in August. Submitted Photo

The Coastal Association of REALTORS® graphic shows key figures from the housing market in August. Submitted Photo

CAR’s local housing statistics for August 2015 showed an overall 19.5-percent increase in contracts, or pending sales, compared to the same time last year in the Tri-County area. Additionally, August’s 312 new contracts are the highest recorded in a single month so far this year.

Wicomico County saw the highest contract increases, with single family homes increasing by 46.2 percent and condominiums by 80 percent.

“Pending units are the leading indicator of sales, so obviously we’re doing quite well on the Lower Shore,” said Vicki Harmon, President of the CAR Board of Directors. “As usual, we are optimistic those contracts will translate into increased settlements in the coming months.”

Overall settlements throughout the Tri-County area remained flat, compared to the same time last year. However single family home settlements in Wicomico were up 17.1 percent and condominiums in Worcester were up 2.4 percent.

New listings of existing homes were down 4.4 percent compared to the same time last year, which is reflective of a national decreasing inventory trend. However despite the national trend of decreased inventory and increased prices, the Lower Shore saw decreased listing and sale prices in August.

“It’s likely that those prices will go up in the off season, when continued low inventory creates higher demand,” Harmon said.

CAR’s monthly local housing statistics are pulled from the association’s Multiple Listing Service, which represents the activity of over 1,000 local REALTORS® in Somerset, Wicomico, and Worcester counties.

Annual Non-Profit Funding Announced

SALISBURY — United Way of the Lower Eastern Shore recently announced its community impact funding totaling $1,288,549 for nonprofit programs and services in Wicomico, Worcester, Dorchester and Somerset counties.

United Way creates and enhances opportunities for making a positive and lasting impact in education, financial stability and health and is the largest source of non-governmental funding for local nonprofit agencies addressing the impact areas of education, financial stability and health.

“United Way Board members, staff and volunteers spend hundreds of hours every year to ensure each contribution is directed to programs that are efficient, with proven positive outcomes,” said Gus Lebois, Chairman of United Way’s Community Impact Committee.

The committee, which is responsible for deciding where funding is most needed in the community, spent 800 hours in the spring visiting local nonprofits and determining programs that service the most important and pressing needs on the Lower Shore. This $1,288,549 investment will directly impact the lives of over 77,000 Lower Shore residents with various services including emergency and crisis assistance, food security, ensuring access to mental and physical health needs, programs for our aging population, helping children and youth succeed, and more.

“We are extremely pleased to provide support to these critical local programs that are doing such life-changing work in our community, and for our amazing donors who have made this possible,” said United Way Executive Director Kathleen Mommé.

The following programs will be receiving United Way of the Lower Eastern Shore funding:

American Red Cross – Delmarva Region, emergency services in Wicomico, Worcester, Dorchester and Somerset counties; Bay Area Center for Independent Living (BACIL), Assistive Technology Center; Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Greater Chesapeake, one-to-one mentoring and mentor training; Catholic Charities – Seton Center, Food Distribution & Crisis Assistance; Chesapeake Housing Mission, wheelchair accessibility; Coastal Hospice, hospice program, palliative care program and compass program; Del-Mar-Va Boy Scouts, lower shore outreach; Delmarva Community Services, transportation for dialysis patients, respite care for individuals with Alzheimer’s Disease, community action – emergency food assistance,  community action – homelessness prevention, One Stop Center – Veterans Travel, One Stop Center – Delmarva United Dental Fund, senior rural food distribution and medical adult day care – Hurlock; Diakonia, emergency shelter and transitional housing; Dove Pointe, children’s program; Easter Seals, Camp Fairlee; Epoch Dream Center, after school program; For All Seasons, Dorchester County School-Based Mental Health Program; Girl Scouts of the Chesapeake Bay, Leadership Experience for Outreach Programs; Habitat for Humanity, community building; Life Crisis Center, Md. 211 24 Hour Crisis Hotline; MAC, Inc., Meals on Wheels, senior job training and Alzheimer’s Day Program; Mid-Shore Mediation, Dorchester County Schools Conflict Resolution; Salisbury Horizons, Salisbury Horizons;  Salisbury Substance Abuse Community Center (SSACC), Community Center; Salisbury Urban Ministries, community health (Lazarus Health Program) and Kids Café; Salvation Army-Salisbury, social services, Salisbury Youth Club and Crisfield Youth Club, Education/Latchkey Program, Richard Hazel Youth Center and Older Adult Ministries; Salvation Army- Cambridge, Youth Education Program and House of Hope Shelter; Samaritan Ministries, emergency shelter and soup kitchen; Somerset Community Services, transportation for day program; Telemon, National Farmworker Jobs Program; Village of Hope, Step to Success Transitional Living Program; Worcester County Developmental Center, day program; and Worcester Youth and Family Services, mental health counseling, Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), Strengthening Adolescent Girls with Education and Support (SAGES) and Family Connections

University Ranked High

SALISBURY — U.S. News & World Report has named Salisbury University one of its Best Colleges for 2015.

“We are proud of our continued presence among U.S. News & World Report’s top regional universities and excited to be in such good company,” said Dr. Diane Allen, SU provost and senior vice president of academic affairs. “These rankings reflect the accomplishments and hard work of our dedicated faculty and staff, as well as our outstanding students, all of whom help make SU A Maryland University of National Distinction.”

The 577 universities in the Best Regional Universities category are split among four geographic areas — North, South, Midwest and West. In the northern region, SU ranked 71st in the top tier among 183 publics and privates. It also was named among the “A-plus Schools for B Students.”

U.S. News uses several criteria to measure academic quality including academic reputation, graduation and retention rates, financial resources, faculty resources, student selectivity and alumni giving.

Last month, The Princeton Review named SU one of its Best 380 Colleges for the 17th consecutive year.

The Princeton Review’s list is compiled through a combination of statistical analysis, campus visits and student surveys. Its rankings represent the top 15 percent of colleges and universities, both public and private, in the nation.

Kiplinger’s Personal Finance has named SU among its Top 100 “Best Values in Public Colleges” for the seventh consecutive year, as well as one of “24 Best College Values Under $30,000 a Year.”


Realty Group Relocates

BERLIN — Shamrock Realty Group, Inc., an independent and locally owned Berlin real estate brokerage, has relocated to a highly visible Racetrack Road address.

Gary James, founder and president of Shamrock Realty, along with Pam Wadler, company co-founder and vice-president, opened the doors at their new location on Sept. 1. When opportunity came knocking, the company moved rapidly. Within three weeks of learning that the location would become available for lease, Shamrock had installed complete signage outside and achieved fully licensed operational status inside.

James described the move as “things coming around full circle” noting that he and Wadler both began their earliest real estate careers in the same building that is home to their new office.

Shamrock, which opened in 2006, is now in its 10th year of business, having expanded twice within its original location in the Grays Corner Professional Center on Route 50 near Stephen Decatur High School. The brokerage has grown from a handful of real estate professionals to well over 20 agents licensed in Maryland, several of whom also hold active real estate licenses in Delaware.

Wadler, an award winning Realtor, and a past president of the Coastal Association Realtors (CAR), described the past few weeks as “a whirlwind”. Wadler added that the transition period “has been an example of how local brokers who are in competition with each other can coordinate their efforts and work well together.”

Realtor Joins Company

BERLIN — Jerry Richards, Ocean Pines’ longest Realtor, announced this week that he is now a member of the Shamrock Realty Group.

He will continue to serve his clients from his office at 11049 Racetrack Road with residential real estate services. In addition to being a REALTOR, he is a Certified Residential Specialist (CRS), a designation achieved by less than 2% of all real estate agents.

Richards has been selling real estate in Ocean Pines for 46 years and has over 900 satisfied customers. He has received numerous awards including the Realtor of the Year from the Coastal Association of Realtors. He and his wife, Gloria, have lived as full-time residents of Ocean Pines since 1970, longer than anyone else.