Wednesday, May 14, 2008

High foreclosure rates, slumping sales prompt housing forum

Chamber, real estate professionals to offer advice

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High foreclosure rates and slow housing sales have prompted the newly created Clarksburg Chamber of Commerce to hold a homeowners forum on Saturday to give residents some ownership advice.

The forum will be held 1-5 p.m. at Little Bennett Elementary School. Four panels of real estate agents and mortgage professionals will teach residents the best way to go about buying and selling their homes.

State Sen. Robert J. Garagiola (D-Dist. 15) of Germantown will be the keynote speaker and County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) will make a brief appearance.

Pat Darby, the president of the chamber of commerce, said Clarksburg is ‘‘ground zero” for residential development in the county and that the town is being hurt most by the tough housing market.

‘‘I’m sure other areas in the county are having problems, but we think this is going to be the worst hit,” Darby said.

He said that many of the people facing problems like foreclosure are hesitant to talk about it and he wanted to help those residents.

Bob Myers, a resident of Clarksburg Village who has worked for Remax Realty Service for 22 years, said the market started to slow down in the fall of 2005 in Clarksburg and foreclosure rates are high in the town. He could not provide specific numbers. A quick search of the Internet turned up many real estate sites and blogs listing dozens of single-family houses and townhouses in Clarksburg up for sale because of foreclosures.

Construction of the retail core for Clarksburg Town Center has been delayed. Newland Communities of McLean, Va.,, the developer of Town Center, submitted a revised site plan for the development in April 2007 and continues to revise the plan. Newland must submit final revisions to Park and Planning by Monday.

‘‘The builders have been hurt with their prices and now they have had to adjust their prices,” Myers said of the market slowdown. ‘‘We don’t have any of the shopping and the infrastructure that is supposed to be built.”

Darby said he has heard a lot of enthusiasm from residents about the forum and many of them wish it were held sooner.

‘‘What we are trying to do is build the confidence of the community to encourage them to come out and buy,” he said.

If you go

The Clarksburg Chamber of Commerce Homeowners Forum will be held 1-5 p.m. Saturday at Little Bennett Elementary School, 23930 Burdette Forest Road in Clarksburg. The event is free. For more information, call chamber President Pat Darby at 301-442-4972.