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New company to specialize in ranch properties

Baltimore-based MacKenzie Commercial Real Estate Services, a member of Cushman & Wakefield, said it is forming a company to specialize in selling investment-quality ranch and recreational properties.

The company, Orvis/Cushman & Wakefield Ranch and Recreational Properties LLC, in a joint venture with Cushman & Wakefield, expects to sell properties on Maryland's Eastern Shore and in Western Maryland.

MacKenzie Cushman & Wakefield is one of the largest commercial real estate services companies in Maryland, offering brokerage-related services, property and asset management, financial services, construction services and development.

Development planned near forest criticized

Plans for 4,300 homes on the edge of Western Maryland's Green Ridge State Forest have drawn fire from some nearby residents who say the rural area in eastern Allegany County isn't right for such dense development.

Developer PDC Inc., of Columbia, says its test wells indicate there is enough ground water to supply the 1,014-acre Terrapin Run project. Sewage disposal would be handled by septic systems and, eventually, a wastewater treatment plant as the project's single-family homes, townhouses, condominiums and apartment buildings are built over the next 20 years, PDC Principal Michael Carnock told the Allegany County Planning and Zoning Commission last month.

Opponents said they have doubts aobut the availability of ground water and that PDC hasn't addressed the need for more police, firefighters, roads and classrooms that such a large influx of residents would require.

Terrapin Run would be built at the northern edge of the state forest, along U.S. 40 about six miles west of Sideling Hill. The planned community, with riding stables and a shopping center, would probably be the largest single residential development in Allegany County, said David Eberly, the county's director of community services.

Catering to people who work as far away as Frederick, nearly 70 miles east, it would add thousands of residents to a county where the population has declined from 80,548 in 1980 to an estimated 73,871 in July, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

"I'm excited about it," said Barbara Roque, one of the three county commissioners, all of whom support the project. "People coming from the Washington, D.C., area want planned communities like this. And the more people we bring into the county, the more tax base we have to work with."

Coldwell Banker joining Habitat campaign

Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage Cares, the philanthropic arm of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Maryland, has joined Habitat for Humanity Maryland's "Building Homes, Rebuilding Lives" campaign, the nonprofit group has announced.

Coldwell agents and employees are raising funds to help complete the 700th Habitat for Humanity house in Maryland. In addition, volunteers will help with construction of the house, at 86 Clay St. in Annapolis.

Habitat's goal is to complete 1,000 houses in Maryland by 2008.

Calif. homeowners amass huge buildup in equity

California homeowners hit the jackpot during the past five years, amassing $1 trillion in equity and pumping billions of dollars into the state's economy, according to a new study by a home-building trade group.

The buildup from 2000 through 2004 resulted from a time of torrid price appreciation and record sales.

During that period, someone who owned a detached house reaped a median equity gain of $230,386, exclusive of the down payment, while condominium owners' median equity jumped by $200,544, said the study by Alan Nevin, chief economist at the California Building Industry Association.

Nevin found that:

The 2.5 million homes purchased since 2000 have increased in value by $378.69 billion, while the 4.3 million homes owned but not sold in that time period have increased in value by $641 billion.

The total gain in home equity was $1,019,856,690,914.

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