Mid-Shore Board of Realtors Celebrates 50th Anniversary of the Fair Housing Act with Contest

The 50th Anniversary of the Fair Housing Act is this year and Mid-Shore Board of REALTORS (MSBR) will commemorate this historic legislation with an essay contest for all High School students and an art contest for K-12th graders. We hope these two opportunities will encourage students to learn about Fair Housing and the impact it has had on the community.

(1) Essay Contest: MSBR 2018 Essay Contest is open to all high school students and who reside in Caroline, Dorchester, or Talbot Counties. Students are asked to write an original and analytical essay of a minimum of 750 words and maximum of 1,000 words. Participants are encouraged to review a variety of sources including the Bill of Rights, newspaper articles, books, and/or personal interviews. The deadline for submission of the essay is Friday, March 16, 2018. There is a cash prize of $500 for the 1st place writer; $200 for the 2nd place and $100 for the 3rd place writer who best responds to the 2018 theme.

The 2018 Essay theme is: On the 50th Anniversary of the Fair Housing Act; how has this act changed renting and homeownership in America? What will the next 50 years look like and how will it change our communities?

(2) Fair Housing Art Contest: MSBR is seeking entries from students between kindergarten and 12th grade. Winning illustrations will be chosen for a fair housing-themed publication. This is not limited to schools; after-care groups, churches, and other children centers are encouraged to participate. Winners will be chosen from three grade categories: K-5, 6-8, and 9-12. Older students are permitted, and encouraged, to utilize computer aided graphic design programs. All art mediums that comply with the contest criteria are acceptable.

The 2018 Art Contest theme, “Celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Fair Housing Act”

The rules and regulations, plus the entry form is attached or go to the Mid-Shore Board of REALTORS® web site; www.msbrmd.com or call the board office at 410-822-8767.


Spy Habitat Case Study: Enniskillen Road in Easton

The Enniskillen property dates from 1880 and had been in one family for many years. The new owners wished to update the house for themselves and their seven-year old daughter as a weekend and summer retreat. They retained the design team of Atelier 11 Architects of Easton, Interior Designer Lisa Bartolomel of Washington, DC, and Landscape Designer Jan Kirsh of Bozman to collaborate with them on a major renovation that affected all three floors of the historic house.


The architects’ first goal was to open up the central part of the house to the waterfront. The rear den faced the water but had only one window. The den was extended and transformed with a graceful curved wall of windows with 180 degree views to the Tred Avon river. The kitchen was relocated from the front of the house to the former den to create a large space for cooking, informal dining and seating area for family relaxation.PIX #3 &# 4The architects improved circulation on the first floor in two ways.  First they took space from the rear screened porch to create a short hall that connected the entrance hall and main stair with the new kitchen area.  Skylights were added so the formal dining room would not lose daylight from the rear porch.The architects then added a porch with a door to the lawn beyond and mud room next to the relocated kitchen. The garage was extended to create a corridor from the new rear door to the front “service” door with access to a new laundry room, coat closets, other storage and the new kitchen area.

On the second floor, the master bedroom became a suite with the addition of new walk-in closets and storage. The third floor unfinished attic became the domain of the Owners’ young daughter and guests.

The pergola and pool house were also new additions.  The pool house is a “mini-house” complete with fireplace, sitting, kitchen, and loft sleeping areas. The curved outdoor shower echoes the new bowfront family room in the main house and the breakfast area in the pool house.  Interiors:  Interior Designer Lisa Bartolomel worked with the Owners to create a serene color palette of cream, dusty rose and sage green with splashes of color. The kitchen’s white cabinets, granite counters and wood floors create a bright and inviting space.

The kitchen is an integral part of the light filled informal dining and seating area that makes this space the hub of the house.Comfortable upholstered pieces are mixed with wood tables and chests throughout the house in keeping with the warm and inviting look.Landscape Design:

Jan Kirsh was fortunate to have a stunning site on the Tred Avon River with an established backdrop of mature specimen trees that had sheltered the house for over 100 years to inspire her design. She added a complex plant palette with selections to introduce native plants, texture and seasonal color. The gardens were renovated to become  “outdoor rooms” for family gatherings and entertaining friends.The flow of the gardens was designed to entice the owners and guests along the axis from the main house to the surrounding patios, the spacious pool area and broad lawn beyond to the Tred Avon River. She worked closely with the architects to firmly establish a strong visual connection between the house and pool house.

Credits:  Atelier 11 Architects, Easton, MD   Lisa Bartolomel, Washington DC   Jan Kirsh, Landscape Designer, Bozman, MD   Doug Bale of D& D Development  The property is now for sale.  For information contact Barb Watkins of Benson and  Mangold at 410-310-2021 or barc.c.watkins@gmakil.com

Jennifer Martella has pursued her dual careers in architecture and real estate since she moved to the Eastern Shore in 2004. Her award winning work has ranged from revitalization projects to a collaboration with the Maya Lin Studio for the Children’s Defense Fund’s corporate retreat in her home state of Tennessee. Her passion for Italian food, wine and culture led her to Piazza Italian Market where she is the Director of Special Events, including weekly wine tastings and quarterly wine dinners.

Mid-Shore Board of REALTORS Awards High School Essay Contest Recipients

For the past five years Mid-Shore Board of REALTORS has invited high school students from Caroline, Dorchester and Talbot Counties to participate in an essay contest, with a property rights or real estate related theme.   For 2017, the essay theme was the Fair Housing Act and its effect on discrimination in rentals and homeownership.  First place was awarded to Tristan Atwell; second place, Ben Morris and third place, Will Rieck.  Mid-Shore Board of REALTORS was excited to receive 17 essays this year and thanks the teachers who encouraged their students to participate.

“This year’s goal was to get the younger generation to begin thinking about housing and how it has evolved over the years for different groups, noted Martha Witte Suss, MSBR President. As REALTORS, we believe in high standards of fair housing; as indicated by the REALTOR Code of Ethics.  This year’s theme allowed the students to understand that housing opportunities were not always equal.”

Pictured are Cheryl Krebeck, MSBR Fair & Affordable Housing Co-Chair, Ben Morris, second-place recipient; Tristan Atwell, first-place recipient; Will Rieck, the third-place recipient and Martha Witte Suss, MSBR President.

Receiving the highest score from the judges and a check for $500.00 was Tristan Atwell, a 9th grader at Easton High School.  His essay entitled, “Housing and the American Dream” noted how the Fair Housing Act changed home ownership, integrated communities, giving all people the ability to invest in their future through the purchase of real estate.   Tristan is on the lacrosse, soccer and wrestling teams, is a freshman in the Student Government Assoc. and has volunteered with Hospice and the VFW.  His parents are Ryan and Julieann Atwell.

Ben Morris, a 9th grader at St. Michaels High School was the second-place recipient and received a check for $200.00.  His essay entitled, “The Fair Housing Act Effective/Ineffective?” discusses that there is still work to be done to insure fair housing for everyone. Ben is on the J.V. baseball team for St. Michaels, on a travel ball team.  Ben has volunteered at the Pines and his parents are Jeff and Kerrie Morris.

Will Rieck, the third-place recipient received $100.00 for his essay titled; “The Fair Housing Act: Extending the American Dream to All”. This essay documents the history of the fair housing act and its notes its implications.

Will is a senior from St. Michaels High School and is on the varsity team for golf and tennis.  He tutors math and volunteers with Destination Imagination. Rieck will be attending University of Michigan this fall, his parents are Harry and Sharon Rieck.

The judging was done by independent community members. Mid-Shore Board of REALTORS thanks them for their time and participation. Judging the 17 essays were:  Dr. Theresa Stafford, Retired School Teacher and Supervisor of College and Career Readiness; Holly Gilpin, Director of Human Resources, Hyatt Regency-Chesapeake Bay; Patti McMahon, Victim Witness Coordinator, Dorchester County State’s Attorney’s Office; Tamu Davis, Literacy Specialist, Hurlock Elementary School and Mayor Victoria Jackson-Stanley, Mayor Cambridge/Dorchester County.

The Mid-Shore Board of REALTORS® is comprised of over 480 REALTORS® and affiliates from Caroline, Dorchester and Talbot Counties. The mission of the Mid-Shore Board of REALTORS® (MSBR) is to advocate for its members and the public to preserve the right to own, transfer and utilize real property. MSBR provides its members with resources to conduct business professionally in accordance with the REALTOR® Code of Ethics.

Spying on Easton: Easton Village Discontent on Elm Street’s Plans

The residents of Easton Village, or a good number of them, showed up at the last meeting of the Easton Town Council on Monday night. They came to vent against Elm Street Development’s proposed changes in the existing planned unit development master plan. As the following video highlight of their comments to the Council demonstrate, there is considerable concern about real estate values and quality of life impacts what may come if approved by the Town of Easton.

As Council President John Ford stated several times during public comment, it will fall to the Planning Commission to review and approval the suggested changes by Elm Street. That meeting is scheduled for October 20th.

This video is approximately twenty minutes in length.  To watch this entire meeting, please click here to watch on TV-98 at http://streams.tv-98.com/

Mid Shore Board of Realtors and Habitat Choptank Promote Home Ownership

msbr nancy andrew sheila washburn KEY home ownership 2Habitat Choptank and Mid-Shore Board of Realtors are partnering to offer the keys to affordable home ownership with an education event on June 15, 2016. Nancy Andrew, executive director Habitat Choptank (left) and Sheila Washburn, president MSBR.

Mid-Shore Board of Realtors and Habitat for Humanity Choptank are partnering to promote home ownership. MSBR is hosting a home buyer information event at its Easton office so that prospective buyers who may not qualify for other lending programs can learn about Habitat Choptank’s affordable housing program. Area Realtors© are invited to bring potential applicants and interested community members can drop by Wednesday, June 15, 2016 between 4-6pm at 8615 Commerce Drive, Suite 2 in Easton. Representatives from Habitat will be on hand to explain the income limits and other requirements buyers must meet to qualify for purchasing a home of their own.

The Mid-Shore Board of Realtors is a trade association for real estate professionals in Caroline, Dorchester and Talbot Counties. The association provides a variety of services and benefits that advance the professional growth and success of its REALTOR©  members while maintaining the highest level of ethics. Habitat Choptank is an affiliate member of MSBR.

For information about this event or Habitat Choptank’s home ownership program, visit the ‘Buy a Home’ section of www.habitatchoptank.org or call 410-476-3204.

Real Estate Report for Eastern Shore Shows Signs of Recovery

Coldwell Banker Chesapeake Real Estate just released January 2015 monthly real estate market data for the Eastern Shore Of Maryland – including Caroline, Talbot Dorchester, Queen Anne’s, Kent, and Cecil Counties.

Highlights include:

Sold Dollar Volume: Sellers on the Upper Eastern Shore closed $61,386,729 in real estate sales in January– up 13.95% from the $53,873,985 closed in January last year. This is a positive sign for recovery. Another good sign are the 140 new pending contracts booked in January 2015, a 29.63% improvement over the previous year. Taken together these two metrics bode well for a stronger 2015 in all Eastern Shore real estate markets.

Our Guidance: there has never been a better time to buy. We have the bottom of the market in our rearview mirror and demand is starting to strengthen. Long –term mortgage rates are under 4% and the national economy is heating up. Our agents look for this trend to slowly accelerate in 2015 and thereafter as national economic fundamentals and consumer confidence continues to improve and waterfront buyers return to the shores of the Chesapeake Bay.

Average Sold Price: The average sold price of an Eastern Shore residential property in January 2015 was $290,932 – down from $297, 646 achieved in January 2014 down marginally (- 2.26%) year-over-year. The low average sold price illustrates the continued absence of luxury and waterfront buyers from the Eastern Shore markets but the marginal decline points to stabilizing prices. Look for this number to increase as we go into the spring. The average sold price is sensitive to periodic outliers in individual markets.

Median Sold Price – The median sold price in January 2015 of $185,000 continues to hover near the bottom of its 10-yr range and is a decline of 7.5% from January 2014. This reflects the continued high number of foreclosures and short sales in the market and the previously mentioned absence of luxury buyers. The median Sold Price will improve in 2015 and thereafter as the inventory of foreclosures declines and luxury buyers return to the market.

Absorption Rate – The inventory of properties on the market on the Eastern Shore (2,696 properties) at the end of January 2015 is at the bottom of its five-year range. In January 2015, 221 properties were SOLD up 11.8% from the 181 closed in January of 2014. This absorption rate suggests a 10.5 month inventory of properties, still well above the 6 month inventory considered to be a market in equilibrium but well below the 5 year average of 13.2 months. This inventory will continue to decline to healthier levels as spring progresses. Look for this trend to continue as gas prices continue to fall in 2015 and the Washington/Baltimore metroplex becomes more congested and expensive for first-time and first move-up buyers

Average Days On Market – the average of 172 Days On Market (DOM) for all sold listings in January 2015 is an improvement of 1.15% over the January 2014 (174 DOM). Look for this trend to continue in 2015 as value conscious buyers recognize the good values to be found in most Eastern Shore markets. A rising interest-rate environment will also prompt buyers to jump off the fence in 2015.

Average List Price For Solds – The average list price for solds in January 2015 of $322,306 is 8.43% below the $351,969 noted in January 2014. This metric has experienced considerable downwards pressure from short sellers and sellers will to make significant concessions to achieve timely sales for lifestyle reasons. Look for this trend to continue through 2015 as excess and shadow inventory continues to be absorbed.

Real Estate: Coldwell Banker Chesapeake Website Goes New Direction

Coldwell Banker Chesapeake Real Estate is pleased to announce the launch of two new state-of-the art, fully-integrated websites. The new sites are more closely aligned with the brand’s strategic vision for a digital platform and growth through online marketing.

The launch of the new Coldwell Banker digital platform (www.ColdwellBanker.com ) is more than the launch of a website. Instead it brings a cultural shift to the industry as sellers, alongside their agent, will have the ability to be directly involved in the marketing of their home through emotion-based property descriptions, photos and videos. Buyers will benefit through enhanced sharing features and greater listing content than ever before seen in real estate! According to Google Analytics this URL generated 2.5 M total visits and 1.8M mobile visits following the launch in October.

Coldwell Banker Chesapeake recognizes that it must be both hyper-local and customer-centric in order to attract prospects to its local website (www.CBChesapeake.com). “Prospective buyers have access to a lot of information on national real estate portals such as Coldwell banker.com and Realtor.com”, says Hugh Smith, Broker of Coldwell Banker Chesapeake, “We have designed our new website to provide information to buyers and sellers of Eastern Shore real estate that they can’t find on the national portals. The website is tightly focused on the consumer, with all the functionality of a national portal, and instant access to locally knowledgeable sales associates.

The new website offers a modern and easy to navigate functionality as well as a content-rich site. Agent profiles give the consumer the opportunity to find a full-time professional agent who is knowledgeable about the specific area in which they are interested and who has a track record of results in any given property type. The individual listings and community pages provide consumers with local demographics, marketing information, and a wealth of knowledge on each property.

Hugh Smith, Coldwell Banker Chesapeake Real Estate’s Broker notes that this website utilizes the best features to keep consumers up to date on new listings and updated searches. “We think our website, along with our social media and digital marketing efforts, will help us quickly connect with our audience to provide an engaging customer service experience.”

Real Estate Agents Build Houses As Well As They Sell Them on the Shore

Coldwell Banker Chesapeake Real Estate agents sell a lot of houses every year on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. “We have been fortunate in these challenging times”, says sales associate Tracy Stone “My colleagues and I feel the need to give back to the community that has been so good to us.”

Tracy Stone. Edey Cross, Gwen Eskridge, and Sharon Rieck

Tracy Stone. Edey Cross, Gwen Eskridge, and Sharon Rieck

On Wednesday, September 24th turned out at 233 Port Street in Easton to volunteer a day of labor with Habitat For Humanity Choptank – a local affiliate of Habitat For Humanity International – the ecumenical homebuilding ministry which has built 64 houses in Talbot and Dorchester Counties since its founding in 1992. Hugh Smith, the Broker and an Owner of Coldwell Banker Chesapeake, is also the Founding and First President of Habitat for Humanity Choptank.

Building a Habitat House and Community years to come and know we helped to make a big difference in two family’s lives”.

“We believe that everyone deserves a decent house in which to live”, says Smith, “This program appeals to our sense of fair play”, says Smith

“Home ownership, sweat equity and community participation appeals to our business instincts”.

The build was organized by sales associate Peggy Neviaser, also a long-term volunteer of Habitat locally. “I have served on the Partner Family committee for years” said Peggy, “it’s fun to get outside and swing a hammer for a change.”

The “build” was led and supervised by Habitat for Humanity Choptank Construction Supervisor Steve Thomas

The real estate industry was well represented on the build site. Coldwell Banker Chesapeake agent and current Mid-Shore Board of Realtors President Gwen Eskridge helped her colleagues from the Easton Office to disassemble a scaffolding on the second floor of the house then re-assemble it on the ground outside to prepare for roofing the duplex. Easton associates participating also included Carol Harrison, Sharon Rieck, Chata Smith,Juliet Wells, Heather Hardisty and Laurie Renshaw to frame and erect interior walls.

No one was ready to quit at the end of the day. “We want to do it again” was the common sentiment. To help pay for all the nails they bent, Coldwell Banker Chesapeake announced a matching gifts program to its sales associates and employees. “The company” says Smith, “will match our associates donations

“It is hardly glamorous work”, said Eskridge, “but it sure is rewarding. We will drive past this site for to Habitat for Humanity dollar for dollar through the end of the year.”


Real Estate Agent Tracy Stone’s Efforts Garner Her Vacation in Hot Springs

Coldwell Banker Chesapeake Real Estate, on Tuesday awarded Sales Associate, Tracy Stone first prize in the company’s summer Listing Contest.

Hugh Smith, Broker and Managing Member of Coldwell Banker Chesapeake Real Estate, on Tuesday awarded Sales Associate, Tracy Stone first prize in the company’s summer Listing Contest. The winner received an all – inclusive Fall weekend at the Homestead Inn in Hot Springs, Virginia. During the contest period, June 1, 2012 – August 31, 2012, the 37 associates of the firm competed for points in the contest by procuring exclusive listings, by publishing property electronic marketing videos, and by hosting and attending open houses.

Ms. Stone began her real estate career in 1988 soon after moving to Chestertown from Washington, DC. She and her husband Jim, a faculty member at Echo Hill Outdoor School, have been the Innkeepers of the Inn at Mitchell House since 1986. Ms. Stone has practiced real estate with Coldwell Banker serving Kent, Queen Anne’s, and Cecil Counties since 2003 and has been involved in many notable transactions such as “Bracebridge Hall” a grand Cecil County waterfront estate which sold for $13.5 Million in 2004.

“When I got into real estate here”, says Ms. Stone, “we relied on print advertising to market real estate and there were no computers, no MRIS, no faxes, and no cell phones”. My Sellers are demanding the widest exposure possible for their properties. Today, my customers are searching for real estate by watching property videos I make with my digital camera on their smart phones. I couldn’t have made this transition without great systems, training, and administrative support. I must say I am looking forward to an old-fashioned vacation in Hot Springs!”


Spy Real Estate Outlook: Benson & Mangold’s Tim Miller

Tim Miller of Benson and Mangold

Tim Miller of Benson and Mangold Real Estate says he has seen the best of times and the worst of times in Talbot County’s real estate market, and right now is among the worst of times. Miller publishes a monthly market report for Talbot and says the rebound has been “sluggish” since the housing meltdown in 2008, and the subsequent dive in property values in 2009.

“In 2009 was the free fall. We didn’t know where the floor was,” Miller says. “In 2010 we said the free-fall was over, so lets just try to figure out where [the market] will land firm. We’re still trying to figure it out; things have stabilized somewhat, but we don’t know how much further things are [going to drop].”

Miller says that sales were around $205 million in 2010, a boost from a record low in 2009, made possible by the Worker, Homeownership, and Business Assistance Act of 2009,
— a first-time home buyer tax credit. Nearly 30,000 Marylanders took advantage of the credit before it expired in April of 2010. Buyers were required to have a contract of sale by April 30 of 2010 and close on their purchases by July 31.

Miller says the tax credit really had an appeal to younger buyers and was moving the market forward, but the market started to crawl again when the incentive ended.

“These buyers weren’t looking for waterfront, these were younger buyers.” Miller says. “They were chasing that free money and the tax credit really got them off the fence, but sales cooled off again in July [of last year] when the tax credit expired.”

Miller says that property is simply not moving, even though interest rates are at record lows.

“There’s just not that many people trying to get mortgages,” Miller says. “There’s very little movement, and I’m telling my customers that the only weapon we have left is to reduce the price, that’s all we have to get buyers off the fence …it is the only thing that is going to motivate the consumer at this point.”

Hired in 2002, Miller says he was the eleventh real estate agent to come on board with the company when sales in Talbot were around $235 million annually. Miller got in at the beginning of the boom years and saw a steep climb in sales that peaked in 2005 at $435 million — August of 2005 alone saw a record $150 million in sales, and the Mid-shore had a robust roster of 800 real estate agents. “The sky seemed to be the limit,” said Miller’s colleague, Tracy Jordon.

In September of 2005, derivative speculators and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York started to question whether the market had peaked. A New York Times article in September of 2005 pointed to concerns within the Federal Reserve Bank of New York about the high pace of derivative sales and the backlog of processing derivative trades. There were also concerns at the Fed that the real estate market was at record lows in mortgage defaults; regulators warned that even a slight uptick in defaults would have a major impact on the banks, because the banks at the time also held record lows in cash reserves against bad debt — not seen since the Great Depression.

Early 2006 would start to see a cooling off period in Talbot, according to Miller. Steep drops in sales each year after 2005 pointed to growing skepticism among investors and home buyers about the direction of property values. The Talbot market continued to slide to a record low of $190 million in 2009; the number of agents in the area also fell from 800 to 400, according to Miller.

But at the end of the day, Miller is optimistic and wants to stay in the real estate business. “It’s a good way to make a living,” Miller says.

Miller believes the market will remain stable but sluggish for the next few years — with sales in Talbot holding at around $200 million.

“People don’t have any money to spend right now,” Miller says. “When that changes we’ll see an improvement [in the market].”