Statement of the Massachusetts Association of REALTORS®, REALTOR® Association of Central Massachusetts, and REALTOR® Association of Pioneer Valley in Support of S.495, an act relative to Crumbling Concrete Foundations

April 18, 2023

- By The MAR Legal Team

On behalf of the more than 27,000 licensed member professionals of the Massachusetts Association of REALTORS® (MAR), including locally impacted associations, the REALTOR® Association of Central Massachusetts and the REALTOR® Association of Pioneer Valley, we hereby express
our support for S.495, An Act relative to crumbling concrete foundations.

REALTORS® are concerned that Massachusetts is just now beginning to see signs of a much larger problem with grave consequences for homeowners. Specifically, Massachusetts homes in Hampden, Hampshire, and Worcester County are starting to exhibit foundation problems attributed to a mineral named pyrrhotite in their concrete foundations. Over decades, pyrrhotite reacts with oxygen and water in a chemical process that makes the concrete swell, crack and crumble, causing homes to collapse.

S.495 would take important steps in addressing this problem through several avenues:

  • Information – helping to educate home buyers, sellers, and the general public about thisproblem through home inspections and a devoted relief agency.
  • Prevention – creating standards for quarry testing and licensing to assure that this problemdoes not return in the future.
  • Assistance – establishing an assistance fund to provide tax exempt grants to effectedhomeowners as well as residential property tax abatements and exemption from permitting fees for requisite repairs.Finding a solution for this problem is essential for homeowners. If they discover their home has this problem, they could face a life-changing bill to cover the cost of replacing the foundation, requiring six-figure loans, assuming they are fortunate enough to be able to access one. For many, it means tapping into life savings or a 401k and indefinitely postponing major life changes such as retirement or downsizing.

    Because there is currently no assistance program, homeowners are disincentivized to test their homes. As a result, many are waiting and hoping the state takes action while their homes become increasingly unsafe to inhabit. This also likely means that the number of impacted homes is higher than current testing data would suggest. Should a foundation give out, a home could collapse. Not only would this have obvious devastating consequences for the homeowners, but it would harm the broader community by introducing blight to neighborhood.

    For the foregoing reasons we urge you to support S.495. Please do not hesitate to contact Justin Davidson, General Counsel, MAR if you have any questions.