Government Affairs

2019-2020 Legislative Priorities:  (Please note that these priorities are subject to change)

Support Increasing Housing Production

  • The H.O.M.E. Bill, developed by MAR in 2014, seeks to remove existing barriers to housing production through several complex zoning changes. For example, it would increase availability of open space or “cluster” development that allows for smaller lot acreage requirements than traditional subdivisions, thus diversifying housing options and preserving open space. The Bill also removes barriers to construction of accessory dwelling units (ADUs). Commonly known as in-law apartments, ADUs are small, self-contained dwellings with their own entrance, kitchen, bathroom, and sleeping area associated with a single-family home. ADUs will provide more housing options and help homeowners enhance the value of their homes. Finally, it promotes local development by easing restrictions on zoning variance and site plan review.
  • An Act to promote housing choices, a bill that nearly passed with our support last session was again named by the Governor as one of his top priorities. The Bill gives municipalities more tools and incentives to increase housing development including: permitting cities and towns to modify zoning laws by simple majority rather than the current 2/3 majority vote for certain issues; increasing housing production options for smart growth zoning districts, such as allowing cluster development and ADUs; and enhances the ability to add housing near public transportation

Support Expanding Homeownership Opportunities

  • An Act authorizing the establishment of first-time homebuyer savings accounts, permits future home buyers to deposit up to $5,000 per year into a First Time Home Buyer Savings Account and then claim that contribution as a deduction on their income tax. This measure will help people save towards homeownership, leading in turn to wide-ranging economic and community benefits, including payment of property taxes, local business patronization, and community
  • An Act relative to the relief of mortgage debt, would align the state with a 2007 federal law, allowing homeowners to complete loan modifications, short sales, and foreclosures for which they have debt forgiven without making them liable to pay state taxes on the that debt. Currently, the amount of forgiven debt, sometimes referred to as phantom income, is treated as taxable income to the borrower, meaning distressed homeowners who need debt forgiveness are suddenly and counterintuitively faced with a large state tax bill. This bill would provide these individuals with some peace of mind and much needed monetary relief, increasing their potential for future

Support REALTORS® Doing Their Jobs

  • An Act further regulating the continuing education requirements for real estate brokers and salespersons, enhances the Real Estate Board’s authority to revise the rules and regulations governing continuing education requirements for real estate licensees. This bill would bring real estate in line with most other licensed professions by providing a greater ability to self-regulate, assuring that continuing education remains relevant and nimble while facing changes in technology and the

Oppose Transfer Taxes

  • REALTORS® strongly oppose any new real estate transfer taxes which authorize the creation of a tax on the sale of a home. The imposition of this type of tax on housing would have serious implications for the Massachusetts economy and set the wrong precedent for the Commonwealth’s tax policies. The Governor proposed a transfer tax in the form a 50% increase in the deeds excise tax in a bill entitled, An Act providing for climate change adaptation infrastructure investments in the Commonwealth. In addition, Massachusetts communities facing budgetary deficiencies regularly seek transfer tax authority to solve local revenue problems. However, creating an entrance or exit fee to homeownership is the wrong way to solve climate change or municipal funding problems. Transfer taxes increase the bottom-line price of most homes by thousands of dollars, providing an additional barrier to homeownership for many, while also inequitably singling out home buyers and sellers to carry a disproportionate weight in funding government

Oppose Mandatory Energy Scoring

  • We oppose bills and proposed regulations that would require sellers or their agents to have their home inspected and rated through a MassSave energy audit prior to listing a home for sale. In addition to having an enormous impact on an individual’s right to freely transfer property, such requirements would negatively affect the real estate industry in the Commonwealth, which is home to some of the oldest housing stock in the country. Mandatory energy scoring of these older homes would significantly stigmatize and devalue many individuals’ largest

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Help with Understanding The Short Term Rental Law

The short term rental (STR) regulations that passed in Massachusetts were complicated – and leave many issues up to local cities and towns to hash out and implement. To help you and buyers who are interested in potentially using short term rentals as an income source, we created a form you can use that lays

Legislation that impacts your Business

We have a hearty list of agenda items to address locally and stateside to make sure we are advocating for private property rights and your rights as a Realtor in the Commonwealth and the Berkshires.  Locally, we will be working with cities and towns who are considering the implementation of local Short term Rental Taxes,

FEMA Now Issuing Flood Policies

Huge props to our Realtor association who worked tirelessly over the past few days to keep our industry humming along. When FEMA announced a halt to National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) polices during the partial shutdown of the federal government, NAR sprang into action to ask for a reconsideration since the impact on home sales

New Short-Term Rental Laws in Massachusetts

Released by Massachusetts Association of REALTORS.  Today, Massachusetts adopted a new law taxing and regulating the short-term rental market. The following information should help Realtors® navigate the short-term rental market under these new laws and regulations. What does this new law require? The new law expands the state’s hotel and motel tax to include the

Gov’t Shutdown: Impact on Closings

What does a government shutdown mean for REALTORS? (As of December 21, updated December 26th, 2018)   Since a Continuing Resolution (CR) to fund the federal government was not passed by Congress and signed by the President by midnight on December 21, 2018, a partial shutdown of some government operations has occurred. This partial shutdown includes
Town Monitor Program of the Berkshire County Board of Realtors.

Town Monitor Report: Lanesborough

Thanks to Realtor Christina Conroy of the Berkshires For Sale, for sending in a Town Monitor report for Lanesborough.  The tax rate is increasing by $1.23 per $1,000 of assessed property valued.  The town is continuing with a single tax rate and that is resulting in an increase to $22.63 per $1,000 of assessed value,

Berkshire Legislator Campaign Support

The Berkshire Board of Realtors joined Massachusetts Representative Smitty Pignatelli at his fundraiser this week, sharing a RPAC check on behalf of the Massachusetts Association of REALTORS.  Joining was our SPC (State Political Coordinator) for Berkshire Rep. Pignatelli, Franz Forster and Board President Cortney Dupont.  For more information on the Mass RPAC with information on how

It’s a Wrap: 1st Annual Berkshire Housing Summit Comes to a Close

The inaugural Berkshire County Housing Summit was held at the Colonial Theater last Thursday, September 20th with over 150 REALTORS, city and town officials, housing non-profit executives, real estate professionals and members of the public in attendance.  2018 Board President, Cortney Dupont, opened the Summit by welcoming all in attendance and introducing Billy Keane, Government
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