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Letter to the Editor

October 30, 2009

Stimulus program won't help housing market



To the editor:

I'd like to say thank you to Washington County Commissioner Kristin B. Aleshire, who recently voted "no" for the short-term stimulus program that combines an excise tax credit, a permit fee reduction and a recordation tax break to help spur new construction in Washington County.

The Washington County housing market has been negatively affected by many foreclosures over the past three years, with the majority of these foreclosures coming in the newly constructed neighborhoods like Hagers Crossing, Westfields and The Hamptons.

The stimulus package the commissioners voted for will actually encourage new construction in neighborhoods that are already devastated from these same builders selling homes at an unrealistically high price to people from other markets. These builders then continue to build new homes in an oversaturated and down market while slashing prices, which forces those unfortunate homeowners who paid $400,000 to now compete against the builder, who is now selling homes in the same neighborhood for $260,000.

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Why do we need more new homes to be constructed right now when there are more than 1,200 pre-existing homes available for sale in Washington County at this time? In September, of the 1,207 homes on the market, 99 of them were sold. What the commissioners should have voted on as a stimulus is a reduction in the transfer tax, which would affect all homes, both new and pre-existing.

One of the reasons the commissioners stated for the vote was that new construction would create new jobs. Most of the larger builders import their staff and workers from outside of the area, so what jobs are being created?

If more pre-existing homes were sold, you would also create jobs by employing home inspectors, well inspectors, septic inspectors, termite inspectors and general contractors who make repairs based on said inspections. You also would help retailers who assist home-owners making improvements before selling, Realtors, title companies, title abstractors, mortgage lenders, appraisers, sign installation companies, cleaning companies, insurance companies who insure the homes and many more.

All of these companies are a typical part of a pre-existing home-sale transaction. Unlike large national builders, most of these companies involved would be from our local marketplace, thus creating and guaranteeing additional work and jobs right here at home.

Michael Draper
broker-owner,
Century 21 Market Professionals
Hagerstown

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