REALTORS® Press Legislators on Important Issues on Beacon Hill
June 13, 2019 Government & Community Affairs
More than 40 members of the Cape Cod & Islands Association of REALTORS® joined over 400 REALTOR® colleagues from around the state at the Massachusetts State House on June 12th to advocate for their business, home buyers and sellers, and property owners around the Commonwealth.
CCIAOR members met with many members of the Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, and Nantucket legislative delegations. A thank you to Senators Julian Cyr and Vinny DeMacedo, and State Representatives Tim Whelan, Will Crocker, and Dylan Fernandes for taking the time to meet with CCIAOR members in person. Thank you also to the staffs of Representatives Sarah Peake, David Vieria, and Randy Hunt for taking the time to hear the issues related to the real estate industry.
CCIAOR members highlighted these important areas of interest at the meeting:
Expand Housing Affordability and Availability
Housing has become expensive and out of reach for many buyers across Massachusetts and acutely so on Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, and Nantucket. REALTORS® support two bills to extend the affordability and availability of housing: Governor Charlie Baker’s Housing Choices bill and the HOME bill. In addition, we thanked both Senator Cyr and Representative Fernandes for sponsoring the REALTORS® proposal to create first-time home buyer savings accounts, whereby first-time home buyers can get a deduction on state income taxes for the money they save for a down payment and closing costs.
The Housing Choices bill allows special permits by a simple majority, and it would also reduce the vote threshold for a number of key REALTOR® zoning priorities including accessory dwelling units, multifamily zoning, and cluster development.
The HOME bill seeks to streamline and simplify the maze of local and state building restrictions that have caused the construction of new homes to become an extraordinarily difficult and expensive process. If passed, the HOME bill would allow more housing to get built to create more affordability through accessibility.
Bills to Support for More Housing Affordability and Availability:
H.187/S.96 , H.O.M.E. Bill An Act improving housing opportunities and the Massachusetts economy
Sponsors: Representative Angelo J. Puppolo (D -Springfield) and Senator Michael J. Rodrigues (D- Fall River)
H.3507, An act to promote housing choices
Sponsors: Governor Charlie Baker
H.2456, An Act encouraging homeownership by establishing a first time home buyers savings account,and S.1628, An Act authorizing the establishment of first-time homebuyer savings accounts
Sponsors: H.2456, Representative Dylan A. Fernandes (D-Falmouth), and S.1628, Senator Julian Cyr(D-Truro)
Oppose New Real Estate Transfer Taxes
New taxes and fees tied to homeownership or the transfer of real property set the wrong precedent for the Commonwealth’s tax policy. If adopted, new taxes and fees will continue to make the goal of homeownership even more difficult for Massachusetts residents to achieve. Transfer taxes create an entrance or exit fee to homeownership and would have serious implications for the Massachusetts housing economy. These taxes single out home buyers and sellers and raise the bottom-line price of many homes by thousands of dollars. Subjecting home buyers and sellers to this new tax only further exemplifies the inequitable nature of this taxing scheme.
Bills to Oppose that Create Real Estate Transfer Taxes:
H.2423, An Act supporting affordable housing with a local option for a fee to be applied to certain real estate transactions
Sponsor: Representative Mike Connolly (D-Somerville) and Denise Provost (D-Somerville)
H.3691, An Act authorizing the town of Provincetown to impose a 0.5% real estate transfer fee
Sponsor: Representative Sarah K. Peake (D-Provincetown)
H.3637, An Act authorizing the Town of Nantucket to impose a real estate transfer fee for affordable and workforce housing
Sponsor: Representative Fernandes (D-Falmouth)
S.799, An Act creating affordable housing in every community
Sponsor: Senator James B. Eldridge (D-Marlborough)
Support Climate Resiliency, but Oppose Increasing Deeds Tax to Pay for It
REALTORS® support climate resiliency efforts and believe the Commonwealth should prioritize them, which is why we support House Speaker Robert DeLeo’s proposal, contained in H.3846, An Act relative to GreenWorks, and filed by Representative Thomas A. Golden (D-Lowell), which would spread the burden of funding climate resiliency onto all Commonwealth residents.
However, we do not believe increasing the deed recording tax should be the way to do it, which is why we oppose Governor Baker’s proposed a transfer tax to increase the deeds excise rate 50% in order to fund climate resiliency programs in bill S.10.
Bill Related to Support Climate Resiliency Without Increasing the Deeds Tax
H.3846, An Act relative to GreenWorks
Sponsor: Representative Thomas A. Golden (D-Lowell)
Oppose Mandatory Energy Audits and Labeling Prior to Sale
These proposals would require sellers 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.
REALTORS® supports policies and programs aimed at encouraging homeowners to make energy efficiency improvements to their homes; however, a mandatory energy audit and labeling prior to selling a home has unintended consequences for home sellers:
- Disparate Impact on Middle- and Lower-Income Homeowners: Massachusetts has some of the oldest housingstock in the nation. Typically, older homes are not energy efficient, and are often located in middle class and less affluent communities where residents have fewer resources to upgrade their home. Mandating the auditing and labeling of these homes will artificially drive down prices and hurt homeowners or cause them to undertake expensive upgrades they may not be able to afford.
- Energy Efficiency Information is Already Available: Energy efficient homes are in high demand. As a result, consumers already use optional energy audits, and REALTORS® know to consider and promote the issues – and the solutions – underlying these audits. Both the popularity of the MassSave program (over 500,000 optional audits performed since 2013) and national statistics corroborate this fact: 59% of consumers are very or somewhat interested in sustainability; and 70% of REALTORS® say promoting energy efficiency in listings is somewhat or very valuable.
- Real estate market interference: The legislation would cause delays and other disruptions, as well as adding costs and complications to an already complex transaction process.
- Private property rights and constitutional issues: The concept of a government agent inspecting and then labeling or scoring people’s homes is an infringement on private property rights and raises serious privacy concerns under the Fourth Amendment.
Bills to Oppose that Mandate Home Energy Audits and Labeling Prior to Sale:
H.2887/S.198: An Act relative to home energy efficiency
Sponsor: Representative Adrian C. Madaro (D-East Boston) and Senator Eric P. Lesser (D-Longmeadow)
S.1922, An Act relative to home energy efficiency
Sponsor: Senator Michael Barrett (D-Lexington)