The Transfer Tax

Our recent implicit decision not to authorize a local option transfer tax on real estate was one of the most difficult I have faced as a legislator. I have never been drawn to the idea, and in dozens of conversations with constituents and colleagues I have consistently expressed concerns, but I have also heard compelling arguments in support.

People who run housing assistance programs talk everyday to families being displaced by rising housing costs and they feel passionately that with a new source of funding they could help more families. I do support programs to help families facing housing instability. But for the reasons stated below, I feel that the right way to fund those programs is through our already existing broad-based, diversified taxes — sales, income, corporate, and property taxes — as opposed to a locally-imposed penalty for real estate transfers.

The issue came to a head over the past month in consideration of the housing bond bill. The Governor’s draft included a local option tax on transfers of real estate and many legislators also offered alternative models for the tax. In most variations, municipalities would be authorized to vote to impose a tax applicable to the value of transfers above a threshold which might be $1 or $2 million. Ultimately, neither the House nor the Senate included a transfer tax in their version of the housing bond bill.

For me, the overarching concern is the high cost of housing. In the long run, the only positive solution to excessive housing costs is the production of more housing. I am uncomfortable with any measure that could tend to drag down housing production in our state. The option for municipalities to impose a transfer tax falls in that category.

We want to make Massachusetts a place that is attractive to people who want to build housing. The public sector cannot solve the housing problem by itself — the scale of need is far beyond public resources. We will meet our housing production goals only in active partnership with private developers. If Massachusetts is unattractive for people who build housing, they will build housing elsewhere.

Investors make decisions in part based on hard economic analysis and in part based on emotion. Repeated transfers of real estate are an integral part of housing production. At the margin, a transfer tax — if actually imposed by municipalities — will somewhat reduce the number of economically viable projects. But more importantly, even the threat of a transfer tax sends a message that Massachusetts views the transfer of real estate as negative behavior — as something that should face a special tax like cigarettes or alcohol. That is the exact opposite of the message that we should be sending.

An additional concern about the local option model for a transfer tax is statewide equity. Boston, its near neighbors, and some seasonal vacation towns have many high value properties — large and/or luxury properties. A local option transfer tax on values over $2 million in those municipalities could generate substantial local revenue. There are people within those municipalities who need housing assistance and could benefit from municipal housing programs funded by a transfer tax. But a local option transfer tax would do nothing for the gateway cities — Brockton, Lawrence, Fitchburg, etc. — where the property values are lower, but the needs for housing assistance are just as great or greater.

Finally, while the notions of “local option” and “local control” have a certain libertarian appeal, fragmentation of housing policy across our 351 municipalities is part of our housing production problem. People considering the construction of housing in Massachusetts already have to sort through a myriad of local rules, many affirmatively designed to limit housing production. We should be simplifying, not adding more dimensions of local variation.

Too much of the housing being produced today is priced above the level that most people can afford. That is largely the result of high construction costs. It is hard to build housing for much less than $800,000 per unit. The financial inaccessibility of new housing leads to negative feelings about housing production. These negative feelings contribute to support for transfer tax.

But the fact that much new housing is not affordable does not mean that new construction does not make any contribution to housing affordability overall. A percentage of the buyers of expensive condominiums in the Seaport do vacate homes elsewhere in Massachusetts, contributing to available supply.

Building more housing, especially near jobs or near public transit, will remain a central priority for me and most legislators over the decade to come. The transfer tax, while it would have compelling short run benefits, would be a mistake for the Commonwealth over the long run.

Published by Will Brownsberger

Will Brownsberger is State Senator from the Second Suffolk and Middlesex District.

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62 Comments

  1. This is very disappointing and short-sighted. I am not at all happy with your decision and will factor that in to my future support for you. The transfer tax is an effective tool, and in the communities you are elected to represent, a desperately needed one. To hide behind gateway cities is a poor excuse.

    1. Please be aware there is already a state real estate transfer tax of $2.28 per $500 valuation plus a Deeds Excise Tax of .456%.thereabouts. Whether Suffolk County has a sales transfer tax, don’t know. In NYC there is triple level income taxation. You don’t want to go there. Enough is enough. Your ire might be directed toward those NIMBY suburbanites whose communities recently have taken a vote against transit oriented housing. Supposedly their fear is multi-unit housing would lower their single family housing values. Also, I don’t know what percentage of private housing inn Boston is taken up by transient students. Over my three decades plus paying real estate taxes here, I have seen opposition to BC building student housing on the former Archdiocese property. The result is almost every house sold by full-time residents turns into a gutted out or torn down house to be rebuilt as housing for BC students.. The income generated from 4 students per floor and more tucked into a basement or attic is enormous. The crowding and noise diminishes the quality of life for those living here permanently. There used to be three Victorian single houses on Foster Street between the Carmelite monastery and Pama Gardens. BC is not going away and gets what it wants. This wouldn’t be allowed in West Roxbury. All the houses around here occupied by students could be rental housing for single twenty somethings starting out. So all those votes at community meetings to prohibit BC’s expanding onto their own property has led to a diminution of available housing for those of us who chose to live here full time. I am very grateful State Senator Brownsberger is opposed to another and city level tax. After selling some of us would have to pay capital gains as well. So how much is left to live on?

      1. Anne,
        So, all these years that you owned, you paid substantial property taxes, generally $8-12 per $1000, plus home insurance. That might have been while you had kids in the schools, so that half of that paid their school costs, or it might while you had no kids in the schools, in which case it paid other kids’ school costs. If you live around Boston, your home appreciated greatly, far, far more than you would have expected. And that’s been OK with you.

        If you’re moving, you probably paid a realtor (and possibly a buyer’s realtor) a total of 3 to 6% of the sales price, meaning you expected their efforts more than pay for themselves, leaving you an additional gain.

        But, after all that good fortune, of possibly sending your kids to good schools, or living in a community which had good schools for others, and having your house appreciate as much as you did, you oppose a small tax of 0.5 to 2%, paid on a one-time basis, only on amounts -beyond- the first $1 million or first $2 million, because that offsets some of the tremendous gains that you made? While most things should be publicly and generally funded, your gain (or mine, or anyone who owns and sells property) has come at the expense of others, and that is the reason that such a targeted tax, in this limited case, is fair.

        I understand that your sale price, minus realty and other fees, may leave you with much of what you have to live on after cashing out your biggest asset. In that context, anything which reduces that cashout is significant. But, again, the value of that asset appreciated far beyond anything you ever could have reasonably expected. And in that context, a 1% fee on some (not all) of that is reasonable.

        Your description of problems with student housing is a red herring; it has nothing to do with the merits of this tax. There are 250,000 students in the Boston area. Some are from here, some came from afar. Some will stay here when they graduate, some will leave. I have no idea why -anyone- would oppose having colleges and universities build housing for their students on their own property. If anything, it is what many people have been trying to force colleges and universities to do, and they’ve often been unwilling to do so.

        If, as Sen. Brownsberger states, neither the public sector alone nor the private sector alone can provide the affordable housing that we need, then from what funding source should the public sector come up with its share?

        1. Envy disguised as policy fools nobody but the envious.

          Taking a financial risk, assuming large debt, then working for decades to pay it off and maintain the asset is not “good fortune.” However, the Shoplifting Party wants its grubby undeserving fingers shoved into every pocket it can find, shoveling up other people’s lunch into its rancid smacking lips.

      2. Some things are NIMBY-ism and some things are not NIMBY-ism. Local control is about democracy, wisdom and putting the brakes on something that is ill-conceived

        The local NPR affiliates are the tools of the dominant paradigm and popular zeitgeist. I don’t know how many times I have written to NPr, “‘BUR,” and “GBH” to tale their thumbs off the scale. With regards to the term NIMBY(ism) they stooped to allowing their commentators user the term as a slur and term of abuse and a cudgel to shepherd the debate and put “good” listeners on one side and “bad” points of view on the other. There are political, planning, economic, moral and philosophical differences about the MBTA Communities Diktat that go beyond the NIMBY insult. NPR’s local affiliates have joined the fray- scratch that NPR affiliates do not serve the American public dispassionately, they have been in the fray and have an existential imperative to maintain a certain alignment with their self-selected audience’s viewpoint.

  2. Thank you for recognizing that the ultimate solution to the housing shortage is to….build more!
    Housing is not immune to the normal free market forces of supply and demand. Massachusetts is a very desirable state to live in, so the demand is here and in all likelihood will be for a long time.
    It is time to bring the supply side of the equation into balance by not hampering it by additional, even well meaning, tax burdens . Lets not make this state only for the very wealthy or the very poor.
    More development, zoning reform and reliable public transportation is the recipe for fixing housing availability.
    This is the right call.

  3. Thank you Will for making the right call. You say, and I agree, that “We want to make Massachusetts a place that is attractive to people who want to build housing. The public sector cannot solve the housing problem by itself — the scale of need is far beyond public resources.” Many advocates and public servants focused on housing affordability see public policy and public funding as the best (or the only) means to serve their vulnerable populations. I agree with you that the private sector is the most scalable solution to rapid production of new supply, so don’t slow it down.

  4. It seems to me that the market for labor should drive up wages to let people afford housing in an area. Any kind of housing assistance seems to me to be a way to keep wages low and let businesses reap more profits.

  5. Thank you for this vote. It’s the moral and ethical decision. We need less of robbing Peter to pay Paul.

  6. Thanks for not adding to punishing tax burdens. There’s better ways to fund things – like cutting spending for starters. That’s what normal people do when their credit cards get too high.

  7. Well done, this is just another punitive tax in a state that has justified the nickname “Taxachusetts”. This would have piled on to the egregious ‘Millionaires tax’ that is punishing not ‘millionaires’, but those of us long-term home owners with significant equity built up, that would like to transfer that to our children. Mass thinks they can do better by squandering your hard earned equity in the general fund. This is just a message to those who consider building housing to revisit that decision. To those who are disappointed by this decision, don’t worry, they will just keep trying till its passed.

  8. Good decision. We need to lower disincentives to building, not increase them.

  9. On its face I found the case for a transfer tax compelling. However I think your argument about the effect on housing construction is well founded as well as its different benefit on communities depending on the value of their real estate. Therefore I support your decisionn

  10. I agree building more housing is key. With that said there are two keys to more housing. First is zoning reform. While the state has made some efforts there is a lot to be desired. Zoning reform shouldn’t just be about getting rid of need for variances but the whole process including how permits, inspection, and other steps along the way take in terms of time. Next the T and regional transit authorities play a big role. What we really need is permeant funding to not only alleviate the 2026 funding gap but fund major improvements. IE elimination of all slow zones, add double tracking when possible on all CR within 495, have funding to begin future expansion projects such as Red/Blue connector, Urban Ring etc. Transit oriented projects will make it easier for residents to live throughout the state and relieve pressure on housing in the Urban Core.

    1. The Red Line at Harvard Station has a permanent, baked-in slow zone: They too high a degree of curve within confines of subterranean Harvard Square. Plus there are other limiting factors besides slow zones for the subways to make an MBTA commuter an equal citizen to a car owner.

  11. Thank you for the thoughtful deliberation. I’m particularly glad to see emphasis placed on the supply-side of the equation, and hope to see more bills like the Community Act that will actually address the underlying issues causing high housing costs. Any chance you’ll take up something enabling mass timber construction, or single-stairway buildings, both of which can drive down construction costs?

  12. Thank you for your well-reasoned explanation. I was glad to see this idea fail. It’s bad policy for all the reasons you state.

  13. As the most unique governor in the history in Mass often put it , Deval Patrick — connecting the dots he would use
    every day did have its point in cases like you discussed with us today, Senator. (I will leave aside the damage he did to many careers)

    The avalanches of revenue options that endlessly pop up – with the elephant in the room- override after override all need a sense of proportion
    a “strategic plan” so missing in local and state government.

    As to housing- the apparent abuse of Belmont’s local housing authority where- the intension was for a person or family
    – have a temporary residence- move on for others- to back feel bringing fairness by turnover is SO limited to today.
    I know folks that have made it an entitlement -with making no effort to move on or local families
    not willing to keep their parents with them but passing it on to Belmont.

    The tabling of this new proposal- for now is sound!

  14. This is thoughtfully argued and persuasive to me. Thank you for taking responsibility for the long view, Will, and your concern for unintended consequences of what may feel like a good solution to many in the short term.

  15. Thank you Senator for sparing us another punitive tax.
    In my opinion, we will not solve the housing crisis until we solve the border crisis. We have tens of thousands of illegal immigrants entering Massachusetts due to our “right to shelter” law. This has stretched not only the state budget but also local budgets to the breaking point. Also it makes it harder to find housing for everyone. I encourage you to amend the “right to shelter” law to include a US Citizenship requirement, so that our veterans and citizens will get preference over people who have no business being in this country.

  16. In my fifty years watching the housing market in Massachusetts, demand has always exceeded supply as we are not in Houston and we care about the long term and about our environment. State mandates notwithstanding, the autonomy of 350 cities and towns and dozens of hidden hurdles limit housing growth. That will not change. The only lever we have to make housing affordable is to reduce immigration. The levers there are simple and accessible even at the State level. Implement state level E-verify preventing employment of illegals and job displacement of citizens by illegal immigrants. Performative efforts like transit-oriented development will prove again not to solve the problem.
    Deny illegal immigrants drivers licenses, in-state tuition and broadcast the message that a limited flow of LEGAL immigrants with critical skills are welcome, but that ILLEGAL immigrants are unwelcome. These will impact the hosing market. The additional $950 million we have spent on illegal immigrants recently has buried the myth that immigration is a benefit to the Bay State. Immigration depresses wages and benefit my ‘class’, but our policies should favor those on the bottom. Here is my recent editorial in Newsweek “My Democratic Party is Wrong on Immigration.”
    https://www.newsweek.com/my-democratic-party-wrong-immigration-opinion-1917957

  17. Totally agree with your decision-making process on this. The Commonwealth needs to be more housing friendly and that means avoiding putting new tax and regulatory burdens on the housing sector. Nobody loves seeing real estate plutocrats get richer, but we need them. Making it more attractive to build housing in Massachusetts should be the state’s highest economic priority.

  18. Bluntness for consideration of your time.
    This explanation you provide is solely about “investment side” – where is the consideration for the fact that investors try to recoup their spends now in far shorter time horizons than ever before.
    Where is the public sector doing its job: providing the ground rules that provide the balance for both investors and tenants? Where are the rules to say that %s of housing allocations (investment-permitted, investment-non-permitted, “luxury” (meaning no caps, boundaries), “reasonably middle-market” (housing that is not for poor, but not for wealthy), and “low-income”)?
    You the legislature are in the pockets of the investors. Simple.
    I see no reasonable discourse to push back on investors concerns at the consideration of the tenants — FYI, with out whom (tenants, that is) there is no market!
    SO, perhaps it is time for the elected officials to actually stand up for the people, rather than the $$$$ — Lord knows, the $$$$ have their supporters, boosters, and all kinds of others advocating and standing up for their $$$$.
    There need be NO transfer tax if the allocation of actual residential (not investment) properties is reasonable. All of this in the highest-$$$$ real estate market in the USA.
    For consideration. Thank you.

    1. Nothing about this issue is “simple.” We all want to see new housing built for the full range of income-levels. The legislature has put in place many policies and funding streams to encourage income diversity in new housing. However, high construction costs make affordable production challenging.

      Additionally, for what it is worth, most people consider Massachusetts a place where tenants’ rights are relatively strong. Rankings of states recognize that Massachusetts is a tough place to be either a landlord or a tenant because of high costs. But to the extent rankings focus on landlord-tenant law, Massachusetts appears as a pro-tenant state. This ranking puts Massachusetts among the best places from a tenant perspective and this ranking puts it among the worst places from a landlord perspective.

      1. Maybe this is the problem: “We all want to see new housing built for the full range of income-levels.”
        I wonder why is this the objective, when higher priced units are their own reward, but it is the lower priced that present the risk and problem for the $$$$, and I have not reviewed “the market” — what is supply of each tier, what is % supply currently rented (v. vacant) of each tier. For me, it is that ratio that requires assessment.
        Alas, not in legislature, I will/do not have the full picture nor all the arguments/considerations, so no debate possible.
        Happy to better understand the realm of “policies and funding streams” (may be entertaining),even just statute indices (index #s).
        You noted in response to other above that there is dearth of ideas related to addressing construction costs — perhaps there are constituencies also being benefited or protected? (as part of compromise, negotiation)
        And, in the end, the basic conflict/choice remains: favoring $$$$ or people? Looks too zero-sum… amidst elections, those who vote (and those who don’t) and those who can put $$$$ into their side, and legislating is desirable employment.
        Yep, not simple at all.
        Problem remains. Yes, I am not expert.
        Thank you for your exchange.

  19. Is anyone in state government trying to find ways to hold on to the less expensive housing that is already here, like trailer parks and lower priced apartment complexes? They are being bought up by out of state investment companies who evict all the current tenants, do a little remodeling, and increase the rent. The state needs to find ways to protect the lower priced housing that already exists as well as encourage new housing to be built.

  20. I agree with the majority of commenters that your vote was correct, and I appreciate your detailed explanation. Thank you for doing the right thing, as always.

  21. The state has no problem pushing through all sorts of unfunded mandates on housing but balks at a local option on a state-led transfer tax? This doesn’t make much sense to me. Plus there are other factors affecting housing affordability that the state is not addressing. There is a rise of private-equity led purchases of housing, including single family homes. These purchasers benefit from a number of tax breaks that are unavailable or limited to individuals, giving them an unfair advantage in purchases. Short-term rental platforms such as Airbnb have still not been effectively regulated at the state or local level, but pull units out of both the conventional rental and purchase markets and generally pay no lodging tax (on which I believe there would be a local option). There is excess office space in many jurisdictions, but regulatory constraints make these quite challenging to shift to housing. And our public transit system, which in many metropolitan areas make commutes from less expensive towns to city centers quick and reliable, continues to lag in the Boston metropolitan area.

    Your point about equity across jurisdictions suggests that Boston shouldn’t get a local option because other cities also need housing but won’t generate much income from the local option of the state transfer tax. I think this is looking at the issue too narrowly. Those cities can create housing for much less money than Boston as well given the lower real estate values. And since money is fungible, maybe some of the state funds that used to go to Boston can be freed up to support a city like Brockton if the transfer tax revenues in Boston are high. If you are primarily concerned about the market frictions and cost increases to housing from a local option on the transfer tax, wouldn’t that also argue against even having one at the state level?

    Particularly in towns like Belmont, there are very limited options to diversify the property tax base leaving us at great risk of recurring operating deficits. A local option on real estate transfer would have helped. So too would a local option on motor fuel taxes, which many states have but that you have not been supportive of. While any discussion of a gas tax is politically challenging, I do think we should have a local option and that is would benefit cities and towns across the Commonwealth. At the very least, it would help communities fund their local road costs, which are incompletely covered by the current state transfers for roads.

    Cities and towns would have a more stable funding base if there were a variety of revenue options for them. Having to hope and pray for state grants each year to plug holes in their budgets is a far less good option.

    1. Correct, to be clear, I would not support a statewide transfer tax for the fundamental reasons stated above.

      Although I would still oppose it, I’d feel a little better about it if it were imposed statewide and funds were disbursed to communities most in need. In communities like Fitchburg it is impossible to create new housing, because it is impossible to charge rents sufficient to cover construction costs. Essentially all new construction in those communities needs subsidy.

      Also, to be clear, this measure would not have helped communities like Belmont address their operating deficits. There was never any consideration of allowing a local transfer tax for purposes other than housing.

  22. Very disappointing. This state values local control. The town of Arlington values enabling a diversity of income groups in our town. You fell for the arguments of the big real estate interests and imho ignored those of your consitutency in Arlington. Our town has worked hard for the last few years to make this option both painless for local sellers and beneficial for people who seek to live in Arlington but can not afford the high housing prices. Each community, under this law, would have had the opportunity to craft its own regulations and would have had those approved, as as were, by our local Town Meeting. You have overthrown the will of Arlington voters in favor of a broad based sketchy argument by the real estate industry. I am truly disappointed in your response.

  23. Senator, I agree with your decision and with your reasoning. Thank you for your efforts to solve the housing problem in Massachusetts in a practical and fair manner.

  24. Will – I think you did the right thing. Any measure that will raise the cost of housing, even high-end housing, will have a “knock on” effect to the entire market. As you state, the solution is to incentivize more production.

  25. It’s an indication of dysfunction that so many people (especially in Will’s liberal district) favor illegal immigration but don’t discuss the fact that these tens of millions of “migrants” (i.e. lawbreakers and worse) increase demand pressure on rentals (and even single and multi-family homes) and thus cause rents to rise.
    It’s called Supply and Demand: https://www.investopedia.com/terms/l/law-of-supply-demand.asp
    Let’s not discuss it in the hope that the problem of illegal immigration and rising housing costs just goes away.
    Yeh, yeh, we know: “The immigration system is broken.”

  26. Thank you Will,
    I think you made the right decision and appreciate your study of the issues and conclusions.

  27. Local control is only not a Libertarian value, it’s a big D Democratic value. There’s no such thing as a “Libertarian.”

  28. Shouldn’t population growth and housing be suppressed in Greater Boston to create centers of growth elsewhere in the state and to preserve the historic virtues of New England? Once we break the New England culture it’s broken and gone forever. Mass transit in Greater Boston is a retrograde anti-equality proposition. Cars are freedom at least until development drives it to a crisis point and personal vehicles become untenable.

  29. I am sorry to see that this measure did not make it into either version of the final budget. Moreover I find some of your arguments against the transfer tax puzzling and/or misleading. I was surprised to learn that the tax would send a message that MA views real estate transfers as negative behavior. Really? So behavior like buying or owning a car, or drawing a salary are seen as negative and therefore are taxed? You argue that the transfer tax would inhibit housing construction in the wealthier towns with home values > $2MM and would not help the gateway cities like Brockton with home values below this threshold. Doesn’t it follow that these gateway cities would not be harmed by the tax and indeed might encourage more housing investment there where the need is greatest? I hope that the legislature continues to find ways to fund and encourage housing investment in areas of need. If we wait for the supply of housing to rise to a point where market forces lower costs, this problem will never be solved.

    1. I do think that there is an important economic difference between taxes that target a handful of people and organizations on special occasions and taxes that everyone pays every year. The latter are borne by all as a cost-of-living, while the former can affect behavioral choices. I do nonetheless favor progressive income taxation.

  30. This is good.

    Greater Boston needs some more units, but in the right places. I’ve seen some new units in places that don’t seem to impact the historical quaintness. Create downward pressure in the eastern MA by improving Central and Western and spur a better, high speed rail system.

    As always, I applaud the Senator’s compassion, hard work, intelligence, learning, experience.

  31. Since the housing shortage is presenting a real hurdle to those individual families that currently are searching for an affordable house, why is attention not focused on corporations that are buying up multiple housing units for investment purposes and charging beyond “normal” rents? Perhaps some type of tax that would seek to prevent the snagging of vacant real estate by a specific sized entity would stop that practice. I am all in for capitalism but there are certain markets that are exploited to the disadvantage of society at large. As for the transfer tax, it is well known that private housing has rapidly appreciated in value since the 1970s and a million dollar appraisal is now somewhat common. Also vacant land supply is not elastic, unless current single family houses are forced to be raised and replaced by multiple family structures ~ wonder what the future holds for us.

    1. Yes. Investors acquiring up housing (as opposed to building new housing) is indeed a concern. To the extent they do not hold housing long term, a transfer tax might discourage them. But, in my mind, that possible benefit does not outweigh the drag on production.

  32. You are being bought by the real estate industry, as are Moriano and Spilka. I am with Joanne McKenna’s remarks…

    We need housing for EVERYone and the rich can pay more and the poor cannot.

  33. Most democrats never heard of a tax they did not like- you are the exception. Thank you

  34. Thank you for your thoughtful explanation of your vote – makes sense to me. Figuring out how to build more affordable housing (while also keeping environmental goals of green space in mind) is a wicked problem. I keep thinking about a recent Boston Globe article that described how, in just about 3-5 years time, so much biotech space was built, Massachusetts is now 59% over capacity. The economic dynamics have to improve. Hopefully the housing bill will be a step in the right direction.

    1. The statistic you cite is temporary, and it’s already beginning to reverse. Small biotechs like the ones who lease space in these buildings are creating the drugs of the future that YOU may need to extend your life. And more investment money is flowing into them now than during the past 2-3 years.

  35. I find it ironic, that housing in which the taxpayers of a community, will be supplementing the people/families that get these new housing units for as long as they live there, how is that not putting the financial burden on the taxpayers of a community permanently? Our communities have become over crowded and to expensive because to live because of these actions, it needs to be spread out through other communities in the state that has open spaces and less density and financial deficits.

  36. Will,
    I fully support your position and oppose another targeted tax on “rich people.” MA already has the so-called “millionaires tax” and this would be one more discriminatory tax on a small group of people. Let’s stop hating money, it can help us!

    The proposed real estate transfer tax option would also be a way to AVOID what the state should be doing… using our combined resources from all funding sources to address our most urgent problems.

    But public funding alone won’t solve the housing emergency, we must collaborate with all potential parties (including developers) who can build new housing. This is my favorite line in your post:
    “…while the notions of “local option” and “local control” have a certain libertarian appeal, fragmentation of housing policy across our 351 municipalities is part of our housing production problem. People considering the construction of housing in Massachusetts already have to sort through a myriad of local rules, many affirmatively designed to limit housing production. We should be simplifying, not adding more dimensions of local variation.”

    FREE THE BUILDERS!

  37. I am supportive of this decision. I’m wary of any action that increases the cost of housing at any level of the market. The best thing we can do at the state level is reduce local control over zoning & development approval and allow for more dense housing to be built on existing urban lots. There should be no lots in Boston and it’s adjacent municipalities that are restricted to detached, single family homes.

  38. As always, I appreciate your thoughtful, data-driven approach to public policy. This was clearly a difficult decision, likely to be unpopular. It takes integrity and courage to stand up for what will ultimately produce more housing for all, across the state as a whole. Our economy is suffering from the brain-drain of young professionals leaving for places where they can afford to buy a home. We need to encourage smart housing production, not penalize it (thus reducing the number of units produced).

  39. I agree with your position Will. We need to encourage building more houses all across the state. No new taxes on housing.

  40. Thank you for voting in opposition to this bill. I have lived in the same house for 36 years. I should not be
    penalized for decades of hard work/sacrifice to afford my house and maintaining my property.

  41. Thanks for NOT adding to the labyrinth of taxes+fees that we already pay, and for anyone above who honestly thinks an efficient MBTA is possible, is out of their minds or they just don’t use it.

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