Last week's headlines

Home sales plunge 40%

Home sales in the Baltimore metropolitan area opened the year with a record 40 percent nose dive. Just under 1,300 homes sold in January, the fewest in any month since the Metropolitan Regional Information Systems, a Rockville multiple-listing service, began tracking sales in 1999. Average prices fell in all but the city and Anne Arundel County.


Foreclosure law is upheld

Maryland's foreclosure notification process is constitutional - even if homeowners never receive the notice, the state Court of Appeals has ruled. In a 30-page opinion upholding the foreclosure law, the state's highest court said it was up to the legislature to change things. The case centered on a Pasadena woman who lost her home.


GM buyout to affect region

Troubled by sliding U.S. sales and the subprime lending crunch, General Motors Corp. announced a new buyout offer to all 74,000 of its unionized workers to cut costs. GM spokesman Dan Flores said all United Auto Worker members in Baltimore, including those at the Allison Transmission plant in White Marsh, will be eligible.

Chain to close 7 local stores

Value City Department Stores will close all but one of its eight Maryland stores in the next several weeks as part of a restructuring that includes shedding 30 stores across the country. Seven stores have begun liquidation sales and will close in about six weeks. The Annapolis store is the only one that will remain open in the state.

Ferris, Baker is being sold

Ferris, Baker Watts Inc., one of a vanishing breed of small independent brokerages in an industry dominated by Wall Street giants, has agreed to sell itself to RBC Dain Rauscher of Minneapolis. The Baltimore firm endured countless boom and bust cycles while building a reputation as a conservative place to invest money.