Rep. Connolly’s Real Estate Transfer Fee Legislation Receives Favorable Report

Representative Mike Connolly’s legislation to enable cities and towns to better fund affordable housing programs reached a significant milestone this week with a favorable report form the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Municipalities and Regional Government.

The legislation would make it possible for municipalities to implement a fee ranging from 0.5 percent to 2.0 percent on certain real estate transactions. All of the proceeds from the transfer fee would go to a municipality’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund. Cities and towns choosing to implement the fee would also be empowered to exempt certain transactions as they deem appropriate. Possible exemptions could include transfers involving seniors or first-time home buyers, or transactions between family members.

“I am very pleased that our real estate transfer fee legislation is moving forward, and I am grateful to the Joint Committee on Municipalities and Chairman O’Day for the favorable report,” Rep. Connolly stated.

“Over the past twenty years, we have been facing a perpetual emergency in the shortage of affordable housing, and while the overall economy and the local housing market have both changed dramatically during this time, our housing policies and programs have struggled to keep up with the pressure of the real estate boom. This legislation has the potential to put a powerful new tool into the hands of municipal officials who are working to protect affordability and expand affordable housing options in Cambridge, Somerville, and across the Commonwealth,” Rep. Connolly added.

The legislation was originally introduced by Rep. Connolly in January 2017. Based on feedback from constituents, advocates, and stakeholders, Rep. Connolly worked with Attorney Ellen Shachter of Greater Boston Legal Services to introduce a revised version of the bill at a hearing before the Municipalities Committee in October. This revised version, H.4196, is now moving forward to the House Committee on Steering, Policy, and Scheduling with a recommendation that it “ought to pass.”

“I am thrilled to learn that Mike Connolly’s transfer fee legislation was reported out favorably by the Joint Committee on Municipalities and Regional Government,” said Attorney Ellen Shachter.

“This critical legislation gives cities and towns a new tool to raise desperately needed funds to support the development of affordable housing.  Given the current state of the housing crisis in Greater Boston and around the state, cities and towns need to be empowered to adopt local solutions as runaway housing costs threaten the stability of the Commonwealth’s most vulnerable residents,” Shachter continued.

The concept of a real estate transfer fee has been gaining momentum in recent months. In September, the Cambridge City Council adopted a policy order in support of Rep. Connolly’s bill, and last month, Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone used the occasion of his Inaugural Address to outline a ten-point housing plan that included a transfer fee. In addition, the towns of Nantucket and Provincetown are also calling for a transfer fee.

2 thoughts on “Rep. Connolly’s Real Estate Transfer Fee Legislation Receives Favorable Report”

  1. The process needs to begin by providing all homeowners notice of the plan and the opportunity to discuss the details prior to moving forward and seeking any type of approval. Whether at the State or local level.

    Somerville had built in affordable housing until the boom of condo conversions began and flippers, investors and real estate developers began buying everything up in our city. The concern by many in each and every neighborhood was ignored.

    Today people are being evicted as a result of this problem forcing many to leave the City or go into public housing and senior buildings if available. Forced to leave the neighborhoods they grew up in and loved for many years.

    The homes that are owner occupied whether single or multifamily are barely surviving unless they continue to raise the rents. This forces these long-term residents out of the City. They were the ones every election you knocked on their door to get their vote. They were the ones that got worn out with the repeated neighborhood meetings to fight poor development in their neighborhood.

    Sadly it seems the elected officials think all the homeowners have deep pockets and keep coming to us for more money every time another brilliant scheme is devised to raise revenue.

    We have been hit with constant increases due to new development, revaluation, ” minor tax increases”, CPA tax, excise tax, increased parking fees, and the numerous bonds that are coming down the pike.

    The thought of a transfer tax is like the last kick in the ass by the City to those that have chosen to live here through it all.

    As one wonderful long-term resident stated to me we were here when it was known as scummerville. Because it was affordable, convenient, we shopped local in all the mom and pop stores, fruit markets, bakeries, laundromat, drugstores, ate at the locally owned restaurants. We had our car serviced at the family run gas stations, visited local doctors and more.

    Yes that is what we did before gentrification and over development of our city. The politicians cared, they listened, they debated and sometimes fought for what was right for the families that they represented.

    Somerville needs affordable housing that must truly reflect the needs of those that are being affected. The ones being forced out, the employees that can’t afford to stay here and the homeowners who are here and have paid their dues without taking more from them.

    Every property owner deserves to know all the details before any type of approval. This transfer tax was discussed at the first Alderman’s Meeting. It was recommended that the less specific the language was, the easier it will be to get through.

    Somerville homeowners deserve better. Speak up before it’s too late contact your Senator, State Representatives, Alderman and Mayor. Voice you’d concerns, ask questions and demand clear answers.

  2. Why not let the voters decide issues that are adding fees to property owners? Let the voters decide for a change. We don’t need more fees shoved down our throats. Enough already.

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