Industry Watch

INDUSTRY WATCH

September 26, 2004

Homebuyer classes set for Oct., Nov. in South Baltimore

Tri-Churches Housing Inc. is offering free homebuyer education classes.

Classes will be held at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 14, Nov. 4, Nov. 10 and Nov. 18 at the St. Jerome Head Start Center, upper hall, 765 W. Hamburg St. in South Baltimore.

Counseling is by appointment and is free. Information: 410-385- 1463 or www.trichurcheshousing. org.

Index shows optimism among builders falling

An index of U.S. homebuilder optimism fell more than expected this month after reaching the highest level of the year last month, according to a private survey showed.

The National Association of Home Builders said its measure of builder confidence in demand for single-family houses was 68, compared with 71 last month.

Sales of new homes rose to a record in May and then declined in June and July as the economy experienced what Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Green- span termed a "soft patch."

The survey shows a housing market that is "coming off gradually," J.P. Morgan Chase economist Jayanth Nazareth said in a note to clients.

In the NAHB survey, a gauge of buyer traffic fell to 52 from 56 last month while a measure of current sales fell 4 points to 73. The association's index of sales expectations for the next six months dropped to 75 from 78.

Dorchester County sets excise tax rates

The Dorchester County Council has set excise tax rates for new construction.

A $3,765 tax will be charged for each new house in Dorchester County as of Sept. 15. People building houses in Cambridge or Hurlock will pay $3,671 in taxes.

The tax won't apply to renovations or additions to single-family homes, but additions to commercial buildings and multifamily buildings will be taxed.

Supporters of the tax said most of the revenue would be used to finance county schools.

Citigroup partnership promotes homeownership

Citigroup Inc., the world's largest financial services company, said it has entered a partnership to foster homeownership in low- and moderate-income neighborhoods.

The partnership is with the nonprofit Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, which works with 150,000 families in 65 U.S. cities, Citigroup said in a statement.

"We can make great strides in building stronger communities and helping consumers who have not historically had banking relationships reach their goals and dreams," said Marge Magner, chairman and chief executive of Citigroup's Global Consumer Group.

From staff, Bloomberg News and Associated Press reports

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