Article Courtesy of: State House News
By: Sam Doran
As renters and would-be homebuyers face an affordability crisis, a leading trade group for the people who facilitate home sales is eyeing new building projects as the solution.
"Rent control tries to attack a symptom of our lack of building. And that's not the way to fix the issue. We need to build more housing," Justin Davidson told Mass. Association of Realtors members as they prepared to visit House and Senate offices Monday.
Elected officials in Boston are among those trying to tackle the affordability issue by capping rent increases, which Davidson, the association's government affairs director, called a "harmful" policy.
"If we build enough housing, if people have the options of where to live and what type of home to live in, we don't need rent control," Davidson said.
he problem without invoking rent control, and supports a tax-deductible savings program (H 2727 / S 1787) to help people bank away up to $5,000 per year to put toward their first property.
A Rep. Angelo Puppolo bill pertaining to zoning reforms was touted by the realtors as a top priority, featuring increased by-right zoning for multifamily housing and so-called inlaw apartments, and a lower local threshold to win approval for variances and special permits.
"So much housing in Massachusetts is reliant on a special permit or a variance, and a supermajority threshold is so incredibly difficult to meet," Davidson said of the proposed move to a simple majority for those votes.
Lt. Gov. Kimberley Driscoll, a former Salem mayor, recalled that realtors "were with us" on housing goals in the Witch City, and were "standing up in zoning meetings, supporting the conversations in the local watering holes to promote projects."
"There's 351 cities and towns in this state. The state doesn't build housing, it happens in the ground, in the places you live, where you work, where we need it, where it's also hard to get done," the lieutenant governor said.
The Realtors Association opposes transfer tax and rent control bills that many housing advocates are promoting as possible solutions, and Davidson also lumped the transfer tax into a category of "harmful policies."
"You've worked with buyers that know that they can't just come up with a few thousand extra dollars to close the deal," Davidson said, adding that transfer fees are "exclusionary."
Legislation to create a local-option transfer fee has been pushed by proponents who hope to apply the fee to transactions greater than $1 million, although an enabling bill has provisions in it to allow it to apply in any community.
Other association priorities include a real estate licensure bill dealing with required coursework on diversity and fair housing law (H 265 / S 166), and proposed tax-exempt grants for owners of houses with flawed pyrrhotite concrete foundations (S 495 / S 2242).
If you missed the REALTOR® Day on the Hill event, visit MAR's website
here to learn more about our Legislative Priorities, What REALTORS® Support & Oppose, as well as background information on the event.