Homebuyers need to get help before signing a contractThe...


August 12, 1999

Homebuyers need to get help before signing a contract

The Greater Baltimore Board of Realtors Inc. applauds The Sun for shedding light on the practice of "real estate flipping" ("Real estate swindlers should be prosecuted," Aug. 3 and "Houses prices soar, sometimes in a day," Aug. 1) and making the home-buying public aware of these unscrupulous operators and fraudulent practices.

I join The Sun in condemning such practices and calling for criminal investigations and a "stepped-up campaign to counsel would-be homebuyers" on the opportunities, responsibilities and risks in owning real estate.

Most of the unfortunate situations The Sun described could have been averted had the buyers availed themselves of services offered by this area's many outstanding nonprofit homeownership counseling services. Neighborhood Housing Services and St. Ambrose Housing Aid Center are two such programs.

In addition, the Greater Baltimore Board of Realtors has many knowledgeable real estate professionals and lenders who are dedicated to serving first-time homebuyers.

Buyers could also avoid many of the pitfalls and scams that were detailed in The Sun by working with a buyer's agent who can represent and advise them as they purchase a home.

For a majority of adults and families, fulfillment of the American dream lies in owning a home, and there are many good reasons to foster citizens' desire to own a home.

But buyers should be cautioned to know with whom they are dealing and to deal with real estate professionals, homeownership counselors and lenders who know the market and can properly guide them through the process.

The time to seek advice and guidance is before the contract is signed.

Marc Witman


The writer is president of the Greater Baltimore Board of Realtors Inc.

Abandoned rowhouses are fire hazards that must go

Baltimore's abandoned rowhouses are all fires waiting to happen. The Fire Department could tell of the many fires in those buildings, caused by vagrants, drug abusers and arsonists.

It is naive for those who live in detached houses or, like letter writers Barbara Hoff and Natalie W. Shivers, live way out in Los Angeles, to talk in the abstract about preserving and rehabilitating historic houses ("City's renewal plan built on weak foundation," Aug. 7).

We who live in the city's rowhouses see every day how fires in abandoned hulks can endanger the residents of adjoining, occupied dwellings and their property.

These dangerous, crumbling firetraps need to be demolished -- like, yesterday.

Harry E. Bennett Jr.


GOP deserves a chance to revive Baltimore

Thanks to The Sun for carrying Gregory Kane's column "Republicans deserve attention in mayoral race" (Aug. 4). It was such a breath of fresh air.

For those of us who once were Democrats, seeing Baltimore in its present state of disrepair is no pleasure -- no matter which party is responsible. A healthy, vibrant Baltimore is of vital interest to every Marylander.

More important, the city's failure to achieve adequate education means that its children, through no fault of their own, face a tragically limited future.

Their plight portends continuing blight for Baltimore, but also continuing burdens for citizens throughout Maryland, who have no voice in city politics.

Mr. Kane is right. Thirty-two years of one-party rule have led to the city's current state. It is a classic definition of insanity to keep doing the same thing and expect things to change. They won't.

Baltimore might just find, as New York City and Los Angeles have, that Republicans do a better job.

William E. Brock


The writer is former secretary of the U.S. Department of Labor.

History doesn't bode well for the vice president

I read with interest Mollie and David Cohen's letter "Gore's qualifications outweigh Bush's money" (Aug. 4). They conclude that Vice President Al Gore's "stature will rise to a point where his election as president will be assured."

If history is a guide, Mr. Gore's chances of being elected president are rather slim.

In this century, only one sitting vice president has been elected to the presidency immediately after completing his term as vice president: George Bush.

Leon Reinstein


It's time for U.S. to get out of Haiti

Ambassador Lawrence Pezzullo and Nancy Jackson describe our intervention in Haiti to restore Jean-Bertrand Aristide to power as a "foreign policy blunder" ("Clinton's folly could hurt Gore campaign," Opinion Commentary, July 30).

They argue that Mr. Aristide is plotting to "thwart democracy and establish a one-party state" by postponing indefinitely the country's elections scheduled for November, but they think that leaving 500 U.S. troops on the ground might prevent that.

The situation in Haiti today is far worse than it was when we sent in 20,000 troops to install Jean-Bertrand Aristide as president.

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