MAR Testifies In Opposition to Transfer Taxes | The Wednesday Word

Annie_testifying_2-23-16It has been another busy week on Beacon Hill. On Tuesday, MAR President Annie Blatz testified before the Joint Committee on Revenue in opposition to a proposal that would create a new transfer tax on the sale of real estate in Provincetown.

President Blatz testified that the creation of any “entrance or exit fee” to homeownership is the wrong policy for Massachusetts. Such a tax would result in thousands of dollars due at closing from the buyer or taken from the seller’s proceeds. For a buyer, this would raise the cost of becoming a homeowner, and for a seller a transfer tax would result in “equity stripping” of the value of one’s home. For those sellers with little or no equity in their home, transfer taxes could force sellers into a short sale situation. Very simply, transfer taxes would increase the cost of home ownership and create an additional barrier to entry for an already expensive state.

If passed, other Massachusetts communities and interest groups facing budgetary issues and needs could seek similar authority to solve revenue problems. 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. By testifying at the hearing in opposition to the proposal, MAR continues to fight for sound tax policy and protect new and existing homeowners.

(Please note: This blog post was prepared by MAR Legal Staff: Michael McDonagh, General Counsel; Ashley Stolba, Associate Counsel; Justin Davidson, Legislative & Regulatory Counsel; and Christine Howe, Public Policy and Finance Coordinator)


MAR Leadership and Government Affairs Staff Busy on Beacon Hill | Wednesday Word

[From left to right] MAR Govt Affairs VP Sarah Gustafson, President-Elect Paul Yorkis, Attorney General Maura Healey, MAR President Annie Blatz, CEO Rob Authier, Govt Affairs Director Mike McDonagh
The MAR Government Affairs Team and MAR Leadership has had a busy week on Beacon Hill, attending meetings and testifying at hearings.

The Legislative Session is fully underway now in 2016 with activity on bills and the release of the Governor’s budget. We highlight some of the activity below, but be sure to check the MAR Facebook, the Government Affairs page, and the Wednesday Word blogs to stay up to date on all of the activity.

The week began with a meeting between MAR leadership and Attorney General, Maura Healey. The group discussed a number of legislative and legal issues related to housing. The leadership team had a great opportunity to discuss issues that our members are facing as well as to offer support for some of the AG’s initiatives:

1. The Attorney General expressed support for MAR’s sponsored legislation that would bring mortgage cancellation debt relief to Massachusetts residents under their state income tax filings.

2. The discussion also included ways in which MAR can collaborate with the AG to help prevent real estate scams that have been occurring with more frequency. The AG encourages any Realtor®, buyer, or seller who has been targeted by such scams to file a complaint with the AG’s office.

On Tuesday, the Joint Committee on Housing held a hearing focusing on legislation relative to Chapter 40B, the Affordable Housing Law. The legislature originally enacted the Affordable Housing Law to address the restrictions that make it impossible or economically infeasible to build affordable housing in Massachusetts.

Despite the law, local barriers to affordable housing still exist in many communities. MAR testified in support of maintaining the existing law and opposed any changes that would weaken Chapter 40B. MAR General Counsel, Mike McDonagh also had the opportunity to address concerns and answer several questions from members of the committee.

Also on Tuesday, the Joint Committee on Ways & Means held its first hearing on Governor Charlie Baker’s fiscal year 2017 budget. The Governor’s budget totals $39.5 billion in spending and marks the beginning of the state budget process. The House and Senate will release their budgets later in the spring before reconciling them for the start of the fiscal year on July 1, 2016.

The second half of the 2015-2016 Legislative cycle has started off strong and MAR Government Affairs Staff and Leadership will continue to attend hearings, testify on bills, and pursue issues over the next several months. Stay tuned for more updates on our issues advocacy.

(Please note: This blog post was prepared by MAR Legal Staff: Michael McDonagh, General Counsel; Ashley Stolba, Associate Counsel; Justin Davidson, Legislative & Regulatory Counsel; and Christine Howe, Public Policy and Finance Coordinator)

The Wednesday Word: Oppose Mandatory Energy Scoring

REALTOR® Day on Beacon Hill is only 3 weeks away so be sure to catch up on all the “Wednesday Word” Day on the Hill Briefings. Remember to check out the Day on the Hill Facebook event page and visit the Government Affairs page for all your DOH updates. Finally, don’t forget to check out MAR President Corinne Fitzgerald’s Day on the Hill video so you can get the inside scoop on the 30th Annual REALTOR® Day on Beacon Hill!

This week we review Mandatory Energy Scoring and why REALTORS® oppose this bill.

Oppose Mandatory Energy Scoring

ISSUE: Mandatory energy audits at or prior to the transfer of property can disrupt sales and therefore have a negative impact on the Massachusetts housing economy. Additionally, requiring energy efficiency scoring on homes in Massachusetts will stigmatize older homes causing a substantial decline in value.

The Legislation: S.1761 An Act relative to home energy efficiency
Sponsor: Senator Benjamin Downing (D-Pittsfield)
Legislative Action to Date: Referred to the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy

What the Bill Does:
This bill seeks 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 bill commissions the design and implementation of an energy scoring and labeling system.

Action Needed: Ask your legislator to oppose this legislation.


For more information on Day on the Hill:

(Please note: This blog post was prepared by MAR Legal Staff: Michael McDonagh, General Counsel; Ashley Stolba, Associate Counsel; and Justin Davidson, Legislative & Regulatory Counsel. Edited by Christine Howe, Legal Affairs & Finance Administrative Assistant).