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City Council Approves Edwards-Janey Real Estate Transfer Fee Proposal

See Press Release Below:

Today the Boston City Council approved 10-3 a home rule petition filed by Councilor Lydia Edwards and Councilor Kim Janey to authorize a real estate transfer fee of 2% on sales over $2 million and dedicate all revenues to affordable housing.

“Housing is a public good and common responsibility, and those who generate wealth in our communities must be part of ensuring residents can remain in the neighborhoods they love,” said Councilor Edwards, Chair of the Council’s Committee on Housing and Community Development. “Today, Boston joins a growing coalition of municipalities asking the state for the power to ensure that the housing we build truly meets our residents’ needs.”

“It is absolutely imperative that we enact policies that will ensure our residents will have a safe and affordable home to live in for many generations,” said Councilor Kim Janey, Vice-Chair of the Committee on Housing and Community Development. “When passed by the state legislature, this home rule petition will help curb speculative real estate practices and stands to bring as much as $169 million in revenue annually that can be invested in affordable housing.”

Revenue generated by the real estate transfer fee would be deposited in the Neighborhood Housing Trust, which funds the creation and preservation of affordable housing. Since it was created by statute in 1987, the NHT has expended approximately $197 million to finance housing and supported approximately 12,887 units. The real estate transfer fee would, within a matter of two or three years, enable the NHT to dedicate more resources to housing than it has done since its creation.

This fall, the Walsh administration commissioned a study on the potential impact of transfer fees in the City of Boston and examine transfer fees across the country. The study found that “[m]arket actors do not appear to be fully incorporating the transaction costs…. Transfer taxes may have only muted impacts on real estate markets.” It also noted that a separate study of real estate commissions, another “point of sale” fee, had minimal impacts on residential housing in the Boston or on the days a property was listed on the market.

Municipalities such as Somerville, Concord and Nantucket have advanced home rule petitions to authorize a real estate transfer fee, and state legislators including Rep. Liz Malia, Senator Joseph Boncore, Sen. Comerford, Rep. Dylan Fernandes and Rep. Mike Connolly have introduced legislation to authorize communities to support local transfer fees.

Councilor Edwards is a former Deputy Director at the Department of Neighborhood Development and founding director of the Office of Housing Stability. During this council session, she advanced legislation to support residents in paying back property taxes and extending condominium conversion protections. Additionally, Councilor Edwards was instrumental in working with Mayor Walsh to amend and approve legislation updating linkage and inclusionary development, two critical local housing policies, and in strengthening short-term rental regulations in collaboration with City Councilor Michelle Wu.

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Maureen Dahill

Maureen Dahill is the editor of Caught in Southie and Caught in Dot and a lifelong resident of South Boston sometimes mistaken for a yuppie. Hockey mom, yoga enthusiast, lover of red wine and binge watching TV series. Mrs. Peter G. Follow her @MaureenCaught.