Reading-Berks Association of REALTORS® Awards $15000 Grant to Centre Park Historic District

Grant Award Presentation

Grant Award Presentation

Centre Park Historic District Board with Sharon Kehres, R-BAR President Wesley T. Stefanick, R-BAR Director, Government and Community Affairs

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The Reading-Berks Association of Realtors® is a professional trade association for licensed real estate practitioners. Membership in the organization is voluntary and consists of both residential and commercial agents and brokers as well as industry affiliates. R-BAR’s membership currently consists of approximately 850+ real estate licensees, and only Realtor® members are authorized to use the trademark term, REALTOR®. The Reading-Berks Association of REALTORS® exists to serve its members. We uphold the high standards of the REALTOR® Code of Ethics. We advocate for private property rights and homeownership and strive to improve the quality of life in our communities.

Posted: Wednesday, October 11, 2017 6:26 am

Reading-Berks Association of REALTORS® Awards $15,000 Grant to Centre Park Historic District

by Reading-Berks Association of REALTORS®

Berks Community Television


WYOMISSING, PA  – The Reading-Berks Association of REALTORS® (R-BAR) is pleased to announce that it has received a $15,000 Smart Growth Action Grant from the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) to help support the Centre Park Historic District (CPHD) Board of Directors in their desire to create a master plan for the park and district.

R-BAR presented a check to the board of CPHD at their monthly meeting on Monday evening.

The grant proceeds will be used to offset the costs of Alta Planning + Design who has been contracted to draft the master plan. The plan will address the needs of Centre Park, including the General Gregg Triangle, Flower Triangle, Frog Fountain Triangle, and Gateway Park. The plan will also include a fundraising plan to implement proposed restorations, additions, and maintenance within the district.

“Creating a well-thought-out plan for a promising area of the City of Reading will improve not just this district, but help to improve the overall community in greater-Reading” said Sharon Kehres, 2017 President of R-BAR. “Our association is proud to be able to support such a great project and we look forward to seeing the final master plan and its eventual implementation.”

Wesley T. Stefanick, Director of Government and Community Affairs at R-BAR, said “Our support of the Centre Park Historic District master plan is based on the fact that this area in the City of Reading has a strong community-based board who works very hard to see that the district continues to grow and prosper. If we can assist the board in their mission to improve their community, R-BAR is more than happy to help.”

“2017 marks the 35th anniversary of the establishment of the Centre Park Historic District as well as our organization” stated Michael Lauter, Centre Park Historic District, Inc. Executive Director. “Since its inception, our organization has not only provided hundreds of hours of volunteer labor for the beautification of Centre Park, but also has paid for many physical improvements in the park. The creation of a master plan further cements our dedication to improving this community resource at the center of our beautiful, historic neighborhood.”

Centre Park Historic District, Inc. President Tadd Kelby Casner said “This generous grant from the Reading-Berks Association of REALTORS® will pay for over half of the cost to produce the Centre Park Revitalization master plan. This much appreciated support will then free up CPHD funds to do the actual work that will be identified in the completed master plan.”

The Centre Park Historic District is a private, non-profit 501(c)(3) organization. It is governed by a volunteer Board of Directors. In addition, the District retains the services of an Executive Director. The organization receives vital support from numerous volunteers, members, and neighbors.

NAR’s Smart Growth Action Grants support a wide range of activities that support REALTOR® engagement in land-use or transportation-related issues with the primary goals of affecting public policies that support a more sustainable development paradigm as detailed in the 10 Smart Growth Principles. Learn more about those principles at

Learn more about the Centre Park Historic District at

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Wednesday, October 11, 2017 6:26 am.

How Trump tax plan would alter mortgage interest deduction

WASHINGTON (AP) — Each year, taxpayers subsidize America’s homeowners by roughly $70 billion, with the benefits flowing disproportionately to coastal areas with high incomes and pricey homes, from New York and Washington to Los Angeles and San Francisco.

The subsidy for homeowners comes in the form of a deduction from their taxes for the interest they pay on their mortgages. An affluent New Yorker, for example, would have saved an average of $3,694 in 2015, according to an analysis of IRS data released Wednesday by the real estate company Apartment List. In metro Los Angeles, the deduction was worth an average of $4,568, in San Francisco still more: $5,500.

But under President Donald Trump’s tax proposal, some Americans would likely be steered away from this tax break. Here’s why: Trump’s plan would double the standard deduction, which taxpayers can take if they don’t itemize deductions. The doubled standard deduction could exceed the savings many receive now from itemizing their expenses for housing, state and local taxes and related costs.

But the Trump plan would also eliminate many existing itemized deductions, including those for state and local taxes, so that some people who now itemize might end up paying more.

The president’s proposal would essentially marginalize the use of the mortgage interest deduction, which is the government’s primary form of direct housing assistance: It distributes three times more money this way than it does in the form of vouchers for impoverished renters.

Trump administration officials say their tax plan is designed to benefit the middle class. Yet it’s not clear from the scant details of the framework released so far how many families would enjoy lower tax bills and how many would face higher bills.

Even though the Trump measure would preserve the mortgage interest deduction, it’s confronting resistance from the real estate industry because it would likely reduce the number of people seeking the deduction.

Estimates by the real estate firm Zillow suggest that someone buying a home worth at least $305,000 today would still qualify for the deduction. But under the Trump plan, only homes worth $801,000 or more would receive the deduction.

This has led the industry to push back against the plan.

“We don’t want to go backwards — we don’t want to lose what incentives that we have,” said Jamie Gregory, deputy chief lobbyist for the National Association of Realtors.

The National Association of Homebuilders says it might be open to eliminating the mortgage interest deduction so long as homeownership was protected elsewhere in the tax code through the use of a possibly more generous tax credit. (A credit, which is subtracted from the amount of tax someone owes, is more generous than a deduction, which reduces the amount of income to be taxed.)

The advantage of moving to a credit is that more homeowners would be eligible to claim it than the 34 million who receive the mortgage interest deduction, said Rob Dietz, the homebuilder association’s chief economist. But there are no signs that the idea of a credit has gained traction within Congress or the White House.

Trump proclaimed in June that his tax plan would accelerate economic growth to ensure that “hard-working Americans enjoy a fair chance at becoming homeowners.”

Chris Salviati, a housing economist at Apartment List, noted that the main effect of the mortgage interest deduction is to enable people to spend more on homes rather than to increase ownership, which is near a 51-year low.

Though the benefits of tax breaks for housing skew most toward people in the top 20 percent of income, they also tend to help middle class Americans. Roughly half the households in metro Washington with incomes between $74,000 and $112,000 — a group that could be considered middle class in that area — take the mortgage interest deduction and saved an average $2,530 in 2015. The average home price in the Washington area is just below $400,000.

Areas with lower home values tend to benefit less from the deduction. A similar group of middle-income households in Indianapolis — where the average home cost around $140,000 — saved only $655 on average in 2015, and just 19 percent of them took the deduction. The savings for middle-income households are just $691 in Cleveland, $666 in Little Rock, Arkansas, and $673 in Memphis, Tennessee.

Yet the Apartment List analysis also indicates that Trump’s tax plan would do little for lower-income households. A mere 11 percent of households with income below 80 percent of the national median qualify for the mortgage interest deduction or rental housing vouchers.

Mitchell named president of Virginia Association of Realtors

Jay Mitchell, managing broker with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Towne Realty in Virginia Beach, was installed as president of the 33,000-member Virginia Association of Realtors.

The Norfolk resident launched his real estate career in 2004 and has served as chairman of Hampton Roads Realtors Association’s government affairs committee, owners/managers council and political action committee – fundraising, and has twice been a HRRA board member, according to a news release. He was honored as HRRA’s Realtor of the Year in 2016.

His accomplishments include leading the National Association of Realtors’ federal political coordinator team for U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine in 2016, and serving as the Virginia Realtors’ federal political coordinator for former congressman Glenn Nye. He has chaired the Virginia Realtors’ strategic planning committee, public policy committee and legislative bill review Ccommittee. Mitchell has served on the Virginia Realtors’ board since 2013.

Additionally, HRRA member Charlee Gowin was elected to the Virginia Realtors board of directors, according to a news release. Gowin, with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Towne Realty, was HRRA’s board chairman in 2009 and HRRA’s 2011 Realtor of the Year.

Hanna William E Wood, were named Omega Tau Rho medallion recipients during the state awards and installation. These honorees are recognized for their service and dedication to the Realtor organization and the real estate industry and become life members of the Omega Tau Rho fraternity.

The other inductees are: Ruth Benjaminson, Ruth Ann Chandley, Linda Drelick, Ruth Ellen Gans, Charles Grant III, Roland Harrell, Janice Jessup, Priscilla Lytton-White, Susan Murphy, Diana O’Brien, Bob Schaefer, Gerry Sessor, Henry Thrasher and Betty Wuthrich.

Caron earns Realtor pricing strategy certification

Lisa Caron of Exit Real Estate Executives in Brookfield has earned certification as a pricing strategy advisor. The National Association of Realtors offers the PSA certification to Realtors.

“The market demands accurate property value assessments, so NAR is excited to provide Realtors with enhanced tools, education and expertise to determine the most accurate value for a home and give their clients a leg up when buying or selling,” said National Association of Realtors President Tom Salomone.

NAR Is Fighting for Your Internet Rights

The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) has joined with a coalition of businesses and public interest groups working to preserve rules surrounding the open internet, also known as net neutrality. These rules have been in place informally since the dawn of the internet, and were formally established in 2015.

Net neutrality is shorthand for the concept that internet users should be in control of what content they view and what applications they use on the internet. More specifically, net neutrality requires that broadband networks be free of restrictions on content, sites or platforms. Networks should not restrict the equipment that may be attached to them, nor the modes of communication allowed on them. Finally, networks should ensure that communication is not unreasonably degraded by other communication streams.

Why Does NAR Care?
The business of real estate is increasingly conducted online. Streaming video, virtual tours and voice-over-internet-protocol are just some of the technologies that are commonly used by REALTORS® today. In the future, new technologies will be adopted that will no doubt require unencumbered network access.

Some real estate professionals, realty website operators and real estate industry-affiliated content providers believe net neutrality provisions are necessary to prevent broadband providers (cable and telephone companies, primarily) from implementing possibly discriminatory practices that could negatively impact real estate professionals’ use of the internet to market their listings and services. Some possible examples include practices that would:

  • Limit the public’s access to real estate websites
  • Limit a real estate firm’s access to online service providers who may be in competition with network operators’ own services, e.g., internet phone services
  • Charge certain websites more for the broadband speeds necessary to properly transmit or display audio or video content, such as online property tour, podcast or phone services

Regulatory Background
In April 2015, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) published a final rule implementing open internet regulations that prohibit the blocking or degrading of lawful content on the internet by internet service providers. Shortly after the rules were finalized, Internet service providers (ISPs) Comcast, ATT and Verizon, and their trade association, all sued to halt implementation of the rules, alleging that the FCC does not have proper authority. The FCC, under Chairman Ajit Pai, has issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that would roll back the rules put in place in 2015 and leave the internet service market largely unregulated. ISPs would be under no duty to prevent blocking or degrading its customers’ internet service. They would also now be permitted to create “fast lanes,” or deals negotiated with large content carriers to carry some website traffic faster than others.

Congress is beginning talks to explore whether legislation can be agreed to that would preserve open internet rules into law and avoid the ping pong of regulatory rules that businesses and consumers have experienced on this issue for the past several years.

NAR and its coalition partners are working both at the FCC and on Capitol Hill to preserve common sense open internet rules that will permit its members to continue to operate and innovate online. Preserving net neutrality means stronger protections for our members, and better results for the clients they serve.

Key Takeaways

  • Net neutrality is the idea that internet service providers can’t speed up, slow down or block any websites or applications.
  • Net neutrality is important to small, main street businesses like real estate brokerages that depend on open internet access every day to run their businesses and serve their customers.
  • NAR supports net neutrality and urges Congress to oppose legislation that would threaten the current FCC open internet rule and roll back the important protections put in place by the FCC in 2015.

Melanie Wyne is senior technology policy representative at the National Association of REALTORS®.

This column is brought to you by the NAR Real Estate Services group.

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National Realtors Association says tax reform will hurt home ownership – messenger





Lawrence, Frederick L.

May 17, 1943 September 21, 2017 Frederick (Fred) L. Lawrence, 74, of Lake Meade, East Berlin, Pa., passed away after a brief illness on Thursday, September 21, 2017, at UPMC Pinnacle Community Osteopathic Hospital, Harrisburg, Pa. He was born May 17, 1943, in Floyd, Va., the son of the late James Earnest and Rita (Austin) Lawrence. Fred is survived by his devoted and loving wife, Kerri L. McCarthy; a daughter, Angela M. Masciulli of Virginia Beach, Va.; a sister, Pauline Hale of Roanoke, Va.; a brother, William A. Lawrence and his wife, Doris of Floyd, Va.; sister-in-law and brother-in-law, Barbara A. McCarthy and Dr. Robert B. Greer, III, of New Oxford, Pa.; a granddaughter, Kayla M. Bryant and her husband Christopher of Virginia Beach, Va.; a great-granddaughter, Sadie Jane; his loving niece, Sandra Shank and her husband, Gerry Shank of Floyd, Va.; and many wonderful nieces, nephews, and lifelong friends. He also leaves behind his beloved dog, Panda. Fred was preceded in death by a brother, James O. Lawrence; and a brother-in-law, Warren G. Hale. He loved and was very devoted to his many family and friends.Fred graduated from Floyd County High School in 1961. He attended Virginia Polytechnic Institute and Harrisburg Area Community College. Fred was a retired broker/realtor and cofounder/co-owner of the former The Homestead Group, Inc. He was a member of the Greater Harrisburg Association of Realtors, Pennsylvania Association of Realtors, Harrisburg Builders Association, and The National Association of Realtors; Robert Burns Lodge No. 464 F. A.M.; Building Committee Member and former Board Member of the Lake Meade Property Owners Association; and a member of the Turkey Buzzards. Fred was a volunteer with the PA Wounded Warriors, Inc.Fred loved living at Lake Meade and visiting his hometown of Floyd, Va. He enjoyed dining out with friends, cooking, boating, car racing, woodworking, gardening, fishing, hunting, and skiing. A celebration of life service will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday, October 14, 2017 at the Red Oak Grove Church of the Brethren, 775 Red Oak Grove Road, NE, Floyd, VA 24091. The family would like to express their deep appreciation to the doctors and nurses of the UPMC Pinnacle West Shore Hospital, the UPMC Pinnacle Community Osteopathic Intensive Care Unit and the Compassionate Care Hospice for their exceptional care and support during this time. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Red Oak Grove Church of the Brethren, 775 Red Oak Grove Road, NE, Floyd, VA 24091.An online guestbook can be signed at

Nine months into 2017, mixed momentum for Connecticut real estate

  • Executives of Fieldpoint Private lead a September 2017 real estate panel discussion in Greenwich, Conn. While Greenwich sales slipped in 2017, the town has seen significant activity in its upper-most luxury segment. Photo: Bob Luckey Jr. / Hearst Connecticut Media / Greenwich Time



Amid a stalled real estate market nationally, southwestern Connecticut buyers and sellers head into the final months of the 2017 market with ample uncertainty but reason for optimism after a third quarter that showed pockets of momentum.

Over the first nine months of the year, Fairfield County sales were up 4 percent from a year earlier to just over 6,800 units sold, according to the most recent data posted online by Stamford-based William Pitt Sotheby’s International Realty.

In town and city sub-markets throughout the region, there were surges — Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New England Properties tracked third-quarter sales up by half from a year ago in both Darien and New Canaan.

The market continues to be impacted by limited inventory of new listings and the prospect of future interest rate hikes. Compared to a year earlier, the average interest rate for a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage under $425,000 was up slightly the first week in October to 4.12 percent, with the interest rate on larger, “jumbo” loans escalating at a wider margin to 4.09 percent.

Last month, the Federal Reserve signaled it would begin selling bonds it acquired during the recession, a move expected to inch interest rates up gradually over time. And with the Trump administration’s initial proposal for an overhaul of the U.S. tax code, the National Association of Realtors is warning that any such changes could amount to a tax on homeownership by limiting deductions on mortgage interest for the majority of Americans.

Back from the dead

On a year-to-date basis, Berkshire Hathaway tracked a Stamford market that was in front of all others in the region with more than 660 sales through the first three quarters, a 4 percent increase from the year before. And the 2016 market leader Fairfield maintained its vigorous sales totals with about 245 homes sold in the third quarter, the most of any municipality over those three months as tallied by Berkshire Hathaway,

In other major markets, sales in both Bridgeport and Danbury are up 6 percent this year, with Norwalk off 3 percent and Greenwich down 7 percent.

Within Greenwich, however, there is optimism in the luxury segment after an Oneida Road mansion went under contract to be sold for $25 million. If the deal is completed, it would mark the town’s third sale at $20 million or more this year, tying a record, with 11 more estates listed for sale at or above the $20 million threshold.

In a September analysis of the Greenwich market, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New England Properties agent Mark Pruner stated the high-end market is “back from the dead” despite fewer homes on the market heading into the fall from a year earlier. In September 2016, Pruner could point to momentum for sales below $3 million, with the luxury segment still stalled.

Inventory versus affordability

Nationally in August, pending home sales retreated for the fifth time in six months and are at their lowest level since January 2016, according to the National Association of Realtors. NAR predicts this year’s sales of existing homes nationally — excluding newly constructed houses — will be down 0.2 percent from 2016, pulled down in part by the damage from Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Hurricane Irma in Florida that affected many listings in the South.

In 2016, existing home sales rose 3.8 percent nationally.

In the Northeast in August, pending home sales were down 4.1 percent from a year ago, the biggest drop of any region in the country. In an interview posted in late September on NAR’s website, the association’s chief economist Lawrence Yun said he expects many of the Texas and Florida home sales that would have occurred between September and December will now occur in 2018, but that other factors dog the market as 2017 nears its close.

“It is not only about hurricanes, but (other) economic … factors,” Yun said. “The other factors are inventory shortage … and affordability challenges.”

Includes prior reporting by Macaela J. Bennett.; 203-842-2545; @casoulman

Byron Menke Awarded OG Powell/Joan Ballantyne Distinguished Service Award





Boise Regional Realtors elect 2018 leaders

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