REALTOR® Association to Testify on Behalf of Massachusetts Homeowners at Two Separate State House Hearings

by Eric Berman - eberman@marealtor.com - 781-839-5507 | Jun 30, 2015

 Home values could be at risk depending on outcome of proposed bills

WALTHAM, Mass. - June 30, 2015 – It will be a busy day for the volunteer leaders of the Massachusetts Association of REALTORS® (MAR) as they will be appearing today before two separate hearings at the Massachusetts State House. The outcome of these proposed bills could both negatively impact home values in two separate ways.

 The first hearing is in support of Senate 1521, An Act relative to discharge of indebtedness of principal residence from gross income. This bill would bring relief for homeowners who are forgiven some portion of mortgage debt and greatly assist homeowners in avoiding foreclosure. Currently, a seller who goes through the short sale process, would be required to pay tax on the phantom income (the portion of mortgage debt that has been forgiven by the lender), even though no cash has changed hands. The hearing will take place in Hearing Room B1 at 10:00 am (go to https://malegislature.gov/events for details)

 “Making a homeowner, who has experienced a true economic loss, pay tax on ‘phantom income’ is just adding salt to their wounds,” said 2015 MAR President Corinne Fitzgerald, broker-owner of FITZGERALD Real Estate in Greenfield. “A short sale is the best way to preserve home values in communities by preventing a home from falling into foreclosure.” 

 REALTOR® volunteer leadership will also testify in OPPOSITION to Senate 1761 “An Act relative to home energy efficiency.” This bill would require mandatory energy audits and an energy rating at or prior to the transfer of property. Not only would this requirement disrupt sales and have a negative impact on the Massachusetts housing economy, but also stigmatize older and historic homes causing a substantial decline in value. The hearing will take place in Hearing Room B1 at 1:00 p.m.

 “Massachusetts continues to be the most energy efficient state in the country* with the second oldest median age of homes at 57 years**, which is very impressive and shows how seriously we as a state take energy efficiency and use programs like MassSAVE,” said Fitzgerald. “However, requiring an energy score prior to transfer would create hardship and slow the real estate market down and unfairly compare the energy scores of newer homes to older homes which could stigmatize a large portion of our housing stock.”

To see a list of MAR’s 2015 legislative priorities, click here

 About the Massachusetts Association of REALTORS®: 

Organized in 1924, the Massachusetts Association of REALTORS® is a professional trade organization with more than 20,100 + 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.

 * Massachusetts has been ranked the most energy efficient state every year since 2011 according to the American Council for and Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) “State Energy Efficiency Scorecard.”

** Massachusetts has second oldest median house age at 54 (New York State is the oldest with a median age of 57) According to the latest data from the Department of Housing and Urban Development American Housing Survey (AHS)

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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.