Jay Fergusonjay@deepcreekvacations.com301-501-0420

More Garrett County seniors eligible for property tax break

Commissioners extend 50 percent credit

Megan Miller Cumberland Times-News

Cumberland — OAKLAND — A recent act by the Garrett County Commission could give more residents a tax credit on their county tax bills, starting this tax year.

Currently, county residents who qualify for the state Homeowners’ Property Tax Credit program, are 65 or older, and have lived in Garrett for at least 10 years, can also receive an additional credit of 25 percent of the state credit amount to apply to their county tax bill.

But the income threshold and tax bill guidelines to qualify for the state program left out a portion of Garrett’s low-income seniors who “probably suffer more than anyone else in trying to pay their taxes,” according to County Administrator Monty Pagenhardt.

Now residents who don’t meet the requirements for the state program can qualify for a county credit if they are 65 or older, have lived in Garrett for at least 10 years and have a combined gross household income of $25,000 or less. That extends a county credit to people whose incomes are low, but whose tax bills aren’t high enough to meet the state program guidelines.

“This goes over and above the state’s guidelines,” Pagenhardt said. “It’s not that much money for the county, about $8,300 in lost revenue, but the commissioners felt they wanted to do something to benefit that segment of county residents.”

Those seniors who qualify for the expanded county program will receive a 50 percent credit on their county real estate and landfill taxes, but their state taxes will not be affected.

Pagenhardt said the three commissioners agreed unanimously on the action, which makes about 32 more households eligible for county tax relief.

Wendy Yoder, director of financial services, said residents must still fill out the state application to be eligible for either the county and state credits or the new county credit program.

Applications are due by Sept. 1 for the tax bills that will come out in the summer, she said. The application forms are available online at www.dat.state.md.us, at the State Department of Assessments and Taxation office in the Garrett County Courthouse, or by calling that office at (301) 334-1950 and requesting a form by mail.

For more information contact the county staff at (301) 334-8970.

Contact Megan Miller at mmiller@times-news.com.

High Lumber Prices Threaten Housing Market – WSJ.com

Bad news for new construction, but this may be a blessing in disguise for existing home inventories that are priced more affordably than ever.

The long-ailing U.S. housing market is facing a new headwind—a jump in the cost of lumber.

Lumber prices have climbed 32% on the futures market this year, a sudden and unexpected surge that could raise construction costs or force builders to swallow an added expense.

“That’s the last thing we need right now,” Stephen Melman, director of economic services at the National Association of Home Builders, said of the recent price hike.

Lumber’s price rise contrasts with a decline in most other commodities, such as fossil fuels and industrial metals. Those are dragging due to fears of weaker demand amid a fragile recovery from the financial crisis.

But lumber prices shot up because of a shortage of supply. When the housing market cratered, mills in the U.S. and Canada slashed production; output plummeted about 45% between 2005 and 2009, according to Random Lengths, an industry data provider.

Wholesalers shrank their own inventories and had little incentive to build them back up last year. Housing is the largest single source of demand for lumber, and new-home sales fell 7.6% in December from the prior month, to 342,000 units.

So when builders began their annual re-stocking for the spring construction season, there was little slack in the supply chain, causing a squeeze on prices. Some firms also stepped up speculative construction in the hope that an expiring federal tax credit would boost the market.

“Any increase in demand is going to allow the mills to raise their prices,” said Gary Vitale, president of the North American Wholesale Lumber Association.

On Jan. 5, lumber buyers got an added incentive to lock in shipments. Canfor Corp., a major Vancouver-based lumber producer, announced a temporary but indefinite closure of one mill that took 255 million board feet out of production, on an annualized basis—equivalent to roughly half-a-percent of total output from the U.S. and Canada in 2009.

The day after Canfor’s announcement, lumber futures at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange closed up 5%. Prices kept rising that month and hit a peak for the year of $279 per thousand board feet on Feb. 4, according to Thomson Reuters. Prices settled Friday at $270.90.

Industry insiders described a buying frenzy somewhat detached from actual economic activity.

“It’s a bit of a herd mentality” in which people conclude, “If someone’s gonna buy, I better buy, too,” said Jamie Greenough, a broker and analyst at Global Futures Corp. in Vancouver.

Home builders are wrestling with the consequences. Steve Petruska, chief operating officer of Pulte Homes Inc., told investors on Feb. 9 that the nation’s largest home builder is responding to the price hike by trying to hold down labor costs. He predicted the situation “isn’t going to be so bad.”

But the January price increase was welcome news for Weyerhaeuser, the forest-products giant, which reported a $175 million fourth-quarter net loss on Feb. 5. Tom Gideon, a high-ranking executive, told investors the firm was “pleasantly surprised.”

It is difficult to gauge how much the recent price increase would affect the price of a home, because various factors affect the bottom line. At the peak price for the year in early February, the rise would have added about $1,000 to the price of a typical new home, said Henry Spelter, U.S. Forest Service economist.

Mr. Melman, of the home builders’ group, said the impact on a more expensive house could be greater. “Builders don’t have a lot of inventory sitting around,” he said. “So when the price goes up, it really does go up, and that could have an immediate impact.”

The supply crunch is striking because, just a few years ago, the North American lumber industry was able to supply enough wood to start more than two million homes a year. That was nearly four times the pace of home starts in December.

The ongoing recession will keep production light, said Matt Layman, publisher of Layman’s Lumber Guide in Belmont, N.C., who called this the only sustained supply-driven rally he has seen in 30 years of trading lumber.

Mills lost too much money in the lean years before finally cutting shifts and idling plants, and they don’t have the necessary capital to restart shuttered operations now, Mr. Layman said.

The industry is also waiting to see whether lumber demand is actually rebounding, beyond the annual re-stocking. Dan Fulton, chief executive officer of Weyerhaeuser, told investors on Feb. 5 that it was “too early to tell.”

The expiring tax credit may have boosted home builders’ annual effort to fill their lumber stocks before the onset of spring makes building more practical. The measure was initially set to expire on Nov. 30, but it was extended and now offers first-time buyers an $8,000 tax credit if they sign by April 30 and close by June 30.

If the home builders’ wager on the tax credit doesn’t pay off, and home sales remain tepid, lumber prices could suffer. “The sustainability of this rally is in question, because the amount of true demand is not clear,” said Joshua Zaret, an analyst at Longbow Research.

And Mr. Petruska, of Pulte Homes, said the company wasn’t locking in prices for future delivery, a move which could backfire if prices fall again.

“Obviously, in this demand environment, that’s very risky,” he said.

If you are thinking of buying or selling real estate in Garrett County or Deep Creek Lake, Maryland, call Jay Ferguson of Long & Foster Real Estate for all of your real estate needs! 877-563-5350

New Long & Foster Personal Website

Just finished working on our new ‘web friendly’ portal websites with Long & Foster. Awesome accessibility and I really like the larger photos – they make a huge difference with searching.


If you are thinking of buying or selling real estate in Garrett County or Deep Creek Lake, Maryland, call Jay Ferguson of Long & Foster Real Estate for all of your real estate needs! 877-563-5350

New Home Listings – 1-13-10 – Buyer Client Update

A few new residential listings were added over the last 24 hours. For more information, feel free to check out this .pdf file or contact me directly.

GA7235955 952 HIGH ST E $189,000 Oakland Rancher 3BR 1BA

GA7235773 257 MARSH HILL RD #3 $289,900 Mc Henry DEEP CREEK VILLAGE 2BR 3BA

GA7235557 228 STILWATER DR $1,690,000 Swanton STILWATER 6BR 5BA

(source: MRIS January 13, 2010, other brokers listings may be included. This market update posting is intended solely for buyer clients of Jay Ferguson & Long & Foster Real Estate)

If you are thinking of buying or selling real estate in Garrett County or Deep Creek Lake, Maryland, call Jay Ferguson of Long & Foster Real Estate for all of your real estate needs! 877-563-5350

Pending Home Sales Down from Surge but Higher than a Year Ago

Press Release Realtor.org

Washington, January 05, 2010

Contract activity for pending home sales fell after a surge of activity in preceding months to beat the original deadline for the first-time home buyer tax credit but remains comfortably above a year ago, according to the National Association of Realtors®.

The Pending Home Sales Index,* a forward-looking indicator based on contracts signed in November, fell 16.0 percent to 96.0 from an upwardly revised 114.3 in October, but is 15.5 percent higher than November 2008 when it was 83.1.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said a drop was expected. “It will be at least early spring before we see notable gains in sales activity as home buyers respond to the recently extended and expanded tax credit,” he said. “The fact that pending home sales are comfortably above year-ago levels shows the market has gained sufficient momentum on its own. We expect another surge in the spring as more home buyers take advantage of affordable housing conditions before the tax credit expires.”

Buyers who have a contract in place to purchase a primary residence by April 30, 2010, have until June 30, 2010, to finalize the transaction to qualify for the tax credit of up to $8,000 for first-time buyers and $6,500 for repeat buyers.

The PHSI in the Northeast dropped 25.7 percent to 74.4 in November but is 14.7 percent above a year ago. In the Midwest the index fell 25.7 percent to 82.0 but is 9.2 percent higher than November 2008. Pending home sales in the South fell 15.0 percent to an index of 97.8, but are 14.7 percent higher than a year ago. In the West the index declined 2.7 percent to 124.6 but is 21.4 percent above November 2008.

Yun projects an additional 900,000 first-time buyers will qualify for the extended tax credit in addition to about 2 million who have already purchased; 1.5 million repeat buyers also are expected to benefit from the credit.

“Many trade-up buyers, who have historically timed their purchase based on school-year considerations, will have to accelerate their buying plans if they need the tax credit to make a trade,” Yun said. Repeat buyers do not have to sell their existing home to qualify for the credit, but they must occupy the home they buy as their primary residence.

Yun added that mortgage interest rates cannot remain at rock-bottom levels for a sustained period and will likely inch higher in 2010. But the tax credit impact in the first half of the year and expected job growth impact in the second half will support home buying activity and absorb enough inventory to bring a rough balance between buyers and sellers. Home prices are expected to stabilize or even modestly rise as a result in 2010.

The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing 1.2 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

# # #

*The Pending Home Sales Index is a leading indicator for the housing sector, based on pending sales of existing homes. A sale is listed as pending when the contract has been signed but the transaction has not closed, though the sale usually is finalized within one or two months of signing.

The index is based on a large national sample, typically representing about 20 percent of transactions for existing-home sales. In developing the model for the index, it was demonstrated that the level of monthly sales-contract activity from 2001 through 2004 parallels the level of closed existing-home sales in the following two months. There is a closer relationship between annual index changes (from the same month a year earlier) and year-ago changes in sales performance than with month-to-month comparisons.

An index of 100 is equal to the average level of contract activity during 2001, which was the first year to be examined as well as the first of five consecutive record years for existing-home sales.

Existing-home sales for December will be reported January 25 and the next Pending Home Sales Index will be on February 2; release times are 10 a.m. EST.

If you are thinking of buying or selling real estate in Garrett County or Deep Creek Lake, Maryland, call Jay Ferguson of Long & Foster Real Estate for all of your real estate needs! 877-563-5350

Recent Lot/Land Listings – Buyer Client Update

There were 9 new land/lot listings since January 1, 2010. Some larger parcels and several building lots. THere is also one commercial property that includes several different properties, projects and communities (click for .pdf and more photos/info)

GA7234728 1 TURKEY KNOB RD $44,900 Oakland 1.700ac R

GA7235151 YOUNG WOOD LN W $74,900 Grantsville 10.600ac R

GA7234225 TRAP RUN RD $99,000 Friendsville 19.780ac

GA7229995 GARNER DR $124,500 Deer Park 3.073 LR

GA7234494 681 BOY SCOUT RD $149,000 Oakland 50.020 LR

GA7229867 3 GRAND ESTATES DR $349,000 Mc Henry .573 R

GA7233401 65 WESTWARD WAY $369,000 Mc Henry .574 LR

GA7228856 14 PARKSIDE SOUTH CT $499,000 Mc Henry .520 LR

GA7232486 25297 GARRETT HWY $4,900,000 Mc Henry 36.840 C /

(source: MLS January 1, 2010 – January 12, 2010)

If you are thinking of buying or selling real estate in Garrett County or Deep Creek Lake, Maryland, call Jay Ferguson of Long & Foster Real Estate for all of your real estate needs! 877-563-5350

New Residential Listings – Update for Buyer Clients

There are 5 new residential listings in the Deep Creek Lake/Garrett County area that are now available for sale (click for .pdf):


GA7234193 498 GLEANINGS DR $449,000 Mc Henry THE GLEANINGS

GA7234198 475 PINNACLE DR $449,000 Swanton THE PINNACLE


GA7234339 774 GLENDALE RD $799,000 Deer Park SAND STONES ON THE LAKE

(source: MLS Jan 9, 2010 – Jan 12, 2010)

If you are thinking of buying or selling real estate in Garrett County or Deep Creek Lake, Maryland, call Jay Ferguson of Long & Foster Real Estate for all of your real estate needs! 877-563-5350

Long and Foster Real Estate video on the new home buyers tax credit.


If you are thinking of buying or selling real estate in Garrett County or Deep Creek Lake, Maryland, call Jay Ferguson of Long & Foster Real Estate for all of your real estate needs! 877-563-5350