Last week's headlines

Foreclosures mount as area home prices drop

July 13, 2008

Judge seeks housing help

As foreclosure cases continue to mount unabated, Maryland nonprofit groups, elected officials and the courts are joining forces to urge attorneys to help residents in danger of losing their homes. Robert M. Bell, chief judge of Maryland's Court of Appeals, sent letters last week to every licensed attorney in Maryland - more than 33,000 in all - asking them to volunteer their time or donate money to help.

Erickson plans off-campus care

Erickson Retirement Communities, a Catonsville-based developer of retirement communities, plans to open its first free-standing medical practice for senior citizens next month and will consider expanding with similar off-site offices in Maryland and elsewhere. The new Erickson office, to open in August in Columbia, will serve adults 65 and older who are covered by Medicare, the company said.

Southwest sets WestJet link

Southwest Airlines has announced that it would link up with Canadian low-cost carrier WestJet, its first concrete step in launching the international service it has talked up for years. Selling seats on each other's planes by late 2009 will grant the two airlines access to new customers with little additional cost, provided U.S. and Canadian authorities approve the agreement.

PSC looking at power auctions

The Public Service Commission wants to gauge whether Maryland utilities could lower electric bills by owning their own power plants or entering into long-term contracts with power generators, a new regulatory filing shows. The panel ordered Maryland's investor-owned utilities to evaluate plans to buy power using a combination of short-, medium- and long-term contracts.

Home prices hit 3-year lows

Average home prices dropped to three- or even four-year lows in parts of the metro area last month as sales continued to slump. Baltimore County's average price of about $296,700, down 9 percent from a year ago, is now slightly lower than it was in June 2005. Howard County, where prices dropped nearly 13 percent from a year earlier to $426,200, is thousands below the June 2005 mark.

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