Media Contact: Eric Berman - 781-839-5507 - eberman@marealtor.com

Housing Production in Response to Ongoing Inventory Shortage One of the Key Issues Realtors® Bring to Beacon Hill

by Eric Berman - eberman@marealtor.com - 781-839-5507 | Jun 12, 2018

Governor Charlie Baker reemphasizes housing initiative during keynote address 

WALTHAM, Mass. – June 11, 2018 – Over 450 Massachusetts Realtor® traveled to the State House on Thursday to participate in the 33rd annual Margaret C. Carlson 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. Governor Charlie Baker gave the keynote address this year to an energetic crowd. 

“With so many pressing issues facing the industry, it was more important than ever for Realtors® to take a stand for homeowners and private property rights,” said 2018 MAR President Rita Coffey, general manager of CENTURY 21 Tullish & Clancy in Weymouth. “We had one of the greatest turn outs in recent memory yesterday because Realtors® know the power of grassroots lobbying and believe in protecting the American dream of homeownership.” 

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

Supporting:  

Housing Production: For decades Realtors® have worked to encourage housing production in Massachusetts through lobbying and creation of the HOME Bill. Governor Baker has built on this idea for housing development and has filed An Act to promote housing choices. In addition to allowing special permits by a simple majority, 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 Governor has coupled this legislation with incentives for communities that build more housing. Recognizing the key role that municipalities play in determining whether housing is built, the Housing Choice Initiative provides incentives, rewards, and technical assistance to cities and towns to encourage and empower municipalities to plan and build the additional housing that the Commonwealth needs to continue to thrive. MAR looks forward to working with Governor Baker, the legislature, and other housing production proponents to meet a goal of producing 135,000 new housing units by 2025. 

Opposing: 

Requiring real estate brokerages that list a short-term rental on their websites to carry liability insurance for rental units: As drafted, sections in the bills that passed the House and Senate would capture real estate brokerages in the definition of “Hosting Platform,” thereby requiring real estate brokerages that list a short-term rental on their websites to carry liability insurance of “$1,000,000 for each rental unit to defend and indemnify the property owner for any injury or damage." A ‘Hosting Platform’ is ‘a service through which hosts may offer a residential unit for short-term rental through a website.’” This broad definition includes almost any real estate brokerage offering rentals. Listing and marketing a homeowner’s property through a broker’s website (including short-term rentals) is a necessary business function of today’s real estate market.  

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. Over and above 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 stocks 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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 Editors and reporters: Please note that the term Realtor is properly spelled with an initial capital “R”, per the Associated Press Stylebook.