Solving the Housing Inventory Crisis and Preventing Homes from Being Treated like Hotels Main Topics as over 400 Massachusetts Realtors® go to Beacon Hill

Senator Karen Spilka, Chair of the Senate Ways & Means Committee provided keynote address

WALTHAM, Mass. – June 16, 2017 –- (RealEstateRama) — Over 400 Massachusetts Realtor® -members traveled to the State House on Wednesday to participate in the 32nd annual “Realtor® Day on Beacon Hill.” The annual lobbying day gave Realtors® the opportunity to discuss with their legislators the key issues that impact consumers, housing and the economy. The 2017 keynote address was provided byState Senator Karen Spilka (D – Ashland), Chair of the Senate Ways & Means Committee.

“Realtors® show up year after year because they know the importance of grassroots lobbying and talking directly to our legislators about the real estate industry,” said 2017 MAR President Paul Yorkis, president of Patriot Real Estate in Medway. “Our members work in every single city and town in Massachusetts and are entrenched in their communities. They see first-hand how important a strong and vibrant real estate market is to the economy.”

Some of the issues that Realtor®-members met with Massachusetts State Senators and Representatives about included:

Supporting:

An Act improving housing opportunities and the Massachusetts economy (S94 & H436) — Also called the H.O.M.E. Bill, this proposed legislation filed by MAR in conjunction with the Greater Boston Real Estate Board, is a targeted approach to dealing with the short supply of housing in Massachusetts. Current zoning laws that create barriers to production are one of the many issues driving the reduced housing stock today. Several of the provisions include easing the production of cluster development housing; allowing accessory dwelling units by right; allowing multifamily housing construction by right; simplifying the dimensional variance burden and; approving special permits by a majority vote.

An Act authorizing the establishment of first-time homebuyer savings accounts
(S1507) — Saving for a down payment and closing costs for a home is difficult. Programs like Home Buyer Savings Accounts provide a state tax-assisted avenue for individuals, couples, or family members to contribute to the purchase of a home. New homeowners provide many economic benefits to the community. For example, home buyers are most likely spending large sums of money at local home improvement stores, which generates sales taxes, income tax, and supports local jobs. Homeowners also pay property taxes; a key source of funding for local governments. Furthermore, owning a home also provides stability for families and the communities in which they reside as there are many documented social benefits of homeownership. Home Buyer Savings Accounts increase the overall well-being of citizens. Specifically, this program would allow future home buyers to deposit up to $5,000 per year into a First-Time Home Buyer Savings Account and then claim that contribution as a deduction on their income tax.

Opposing:

Expansion of the Room Occupancy Tax: Realtors® oppose bills imposing a room occupancy tax on short term vacation rentals. These proposals would create a new tax on all homeowners who choose to rent their homes for a short term, typically under 90 days. In addition to established businesses like hotels, motels and bed and breakfast establishments, these proposals would allow a city or town to levy a room occupancy tax on any apartment, single or multiple family housing, cottage, condominium or timeshare unit. Private homeowners would then be responsible for the collection, handling, and remittance of these taxes to the Department of Revenue.

Mandatory Energy Scoring and Audits: These bills seek to require sellers or their agents to perform a Mass Save energy audit prior to listing a home for sale and disclose to any prospective buyer the information in the energy audit at the time of the listing. Additionally, the bills commission the design and implementation of an energy scoring and labeling system. Beyond having an enormous impact on an individual’s right to freely transfer land, such requirements would negatively affect the real estate industry in the Commonwealth. Massachusetts is home to some of the oldest housing stock in the country and mandatory energy scoring of such older homes would significantly stigmatize and potentially devalue an individual’s largest investment.

Real Estate Transfer Taxes:
Realtors® strongly oppose real estate transfer taxes, which would authorize the creation of a new transfer tax on the sale of property in a municipality. The imposition of this type of new sales tax on homes could have serious implications for the Massachusetts economy and set the wrong precedent for the Commonwealth’s tax policies. If allowed, Massachusetts communities facing budgetary deficiencies may seek transfer tax authority to solve local revenue problems. However, creating an “entrance or exit fee” to homeownership is the wrong way to solve this problem. Transfer taxes would increase the bottom-line price of many homes by thousands of dollars. These bills single out home buyers and sellers and subjecting them to this new tax only further exemplifies the inequitable nature of this taxing scheme.

(To find detailed information on all Realtor® positions, go to www.marealtor.com/members/government-affairs)

About the Massachusetts Association of REALTORS®:
Organized in 1924, the Massachusetts Association of REALTORS® is a professional trade organization with more than 24,000 members.  The term REALTOR® is registered as the exclusive designation of members of the National Association of REALTORS® who subscribe to a strict code of ethics and enjoy continuing education programs.

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by Eric Berman – eberman (at) marealtor (dot) com – 781-839-5507

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