Scenic imagery

GA Blog

Showing blogs: 1924 of 713

3.20.19 State News: Tax on High-End Real Estate Sales Could Generate Hundreds of Millions for Boston; Dampen Real Estate Market

A tax on sales of high-dollar real estate in Boston would generate an enormous amount of money for affordable housing, but could dampen the city’s real estate market and faces a long road to approval.

That’s what emerged from a Boston City Council hearing Tuesday on a proposal that would levy a 6 percent tax on most homes, land, and office buildings that sell for more than $2 million, with the proceeds going to the city’s affordable housing fund.

A tax of that size would have generated $420 million last year, according to data from City Councilor Lydia Edwards, one of the bill’s cosponsors. Even a tax on commercial and industrial properties alone would have generated $189 million, nearly quadrupling the city’s current affordable housing budget of roughly $50 million.

“I would think those are numbers and money we certainly could use in the City of Boston,’ Edwards said.

Walsh administration officials — who have pushed for more affordable housing funding but taken no position on the transfer tax — didn’t disagree. Housing chief Sheila Dillon said Mayor Martin J. Walsh is “committed to the goals” of the legislation, but that it needs more study. Commissioner of Assessing Gayle Willett said she worried a transfer tax, and a related extra tax on sales of homes owned for less than two years, could hurt property values and make Boston’s housing market even tighter.

“I think that this would affect sales,” Willett said. “It would be in someone’s interest to get around these fees.”

Real estate industry leaders were more explicit: They don’t like the idea one bit. Greg Vasil, president of the Greater Boston Real Estate Board, said his members, who include major affordable housing developers, unanimously oppose the current plan. Should it pass, he said, the tax would simply be passed on to the people its supporters are trying to help: low-income renters and small businesses.

“Taxes like this trickle down an economy. They end up coming to rest with those who can least afford them,” Vasil said. “Companies will pay more in rent; people will pay more in terms of rent.”

Read more about this proposal at The Boston Globe.

Boston Skyline

contine reading button

3.20.19 Local News: Lynn Unveils Third Waterfront Plan

The City of Lynn is developing two master plans to reimagine its waterfront with residential, commercial and industrial development, park space and public access. A third plan that will help implement and enforce the provisions of both was laid out for the first time on Tuesday night.

The third component of the planning process for the transformation of the city’s 305-acre waterfront site is an update of the Lynn Municipal Harbor Plan, which was approved by the state in 2010 and expires after a decade.

The plan, subject to state approval, was presented before a roomful of residents and elected officials at Lynn Housing Authority & Neighborhood Development.

A Municipal Harbor Plan states a municipality’s goals, standards and policies to guide public and private use of land and water within the jurisdiction of the Public Waterfront Act, or Chapter 91, which was created to regulate waterways.

The MHP amendment is meant to help coordinate local, state and federal regulations along the waterfront and ensure the implementation of the updated Lynn Waterfront Master Plan and the Lynn Waterfront Open Space Master Plan.

In addition to its pending expiration, an update of the Lynn Municipal Harbor Plan was necessary because the “ambitious plan” had some assumptions in it that hadn’t panned out, according to Matthew Littell, principal at Utile Inc., a Boston-based urban design and architecture firm which was selected to compile the Waterfront Master Plan by the Economic Development & Industrial Corporation of Lynn.

Read more about the Waterfront Plan at The Lynn Item.

Lynn

contine reading button

3.20.19 National News: Federal Reserve Signals It Won't Raise Interest Rates At All This Year

At the conclusion of its March meeting, the Federal Reserve announced it is not raising the federal funds rate. In fact, the Fed is signaling it is done with the idea of rate hikes for the rest of 2019.

The Federal Open Market Committee’s statement indicated that the Fed is taking a cautious tone with the rates as it monitors the rate of inflation and other global economic conditions and developments.

“In light of global economic and financial developments and muted inflation pressures, the Committee will be patient as it determines what future adjustments to the target range for the federal funds rate may be appropriate to support these outcomes,” The FOMC statement said.

The committee said it will maintain its target range for the federal funds rate at 2.25-2.5%. 

Read more about interest rates at HousingWire.

Federal Reserve

contine reading button

3.18.19 Meeting Notice: Public Meeting on Lynn Waterfront Master Plan Set for Tuesday, March 19th

The Economic Development & Industrial Corporation of Lynn (EDIC/Lynn) will hold a public meeting for the Lynn Municipal Harbor Plan and Waterfront Master Plan on Tuesday, March 19th from 6:00-7:30 P.M. at the Lynn Housing Authority & Neighborhood Development, 10 Church Street in Downtown Lynn. For more information contact Mary Jane Smalley at msmalley@ediclynn.org or 781-581-9399.

Lynn Waterfront2

contine reading button

3.18.19 National News: NAR Cheers Bill to Extend Fair Housing Protections to the LGBTQ Community

LGBTQ

From NAR's REALTOR® Magazine

The National Association of REALTORS® supports legislation introduced in both chambers of Congress Wednesday to extend protections under the Fair Housing Act to the LGBT community. “REALTORS® have worked for [nearly] a decade to ensure the American dream of homeownership is not unfairly denied to those in the LGBT community,” NAR President John Smaby said in a statement.

NAR amended its Code of Ethics to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation in 2011 and gender identity in 2013. Last year, the association supported the Fair and Equal Housing Act, which would make those protections part of the Fair Housing Act. However, Congress adjourned before the bill could come up for a vote.

The legislation introduced Wednesday, called the Equality Act, includes the NAR-supported housing protections of the Fair and Equal Housing Act and also extends LGBT protections in the areas of employment, public accommodations, credit markets, and voting. Shannon McGahn, NAR senior vice president for government affairs, will appear at a policy summit hosted by the National Association of Gay and Lesbian Real Estate Professionals next month in Washington, D.C., to talk about next steps for the legislation.

Read more about "What Everyone Should Know About Equal Opportunity Housing"

contine reading button

3.18.19 State News: Compared to Other States, Massachusetts Lags in Move for More Housing

From The Boston Globe

"In Massachusetts, where such housing production plans remain optional, Baker’s focus is on making it a little easier for those that want to build to do so. His bill, he said, would encourage zoning changes for denser development by lowering the approval threshold for city councils and town meetings from the current two-thirds majority to a simple majority: 50 percent plus one.

Baker administration officials say they’re not sure how many units the change could create. But some local officials say that little tweak could make a huge difference.

“Some people seem to think this is a single,” said Mayor Kim Driscoll of Salem. “It’s a triple. All day.”

Driscoll has been trying since last summer to push through her City Council new zoning that would help convert two shuttered Catholic schools and a former senior center into dozens of apartments, many of them classified as affordable. Seven of the 11 City Council members support the measure, but it needs eight votes to secure a two-thirds majority. That eighth vote has been elusive; another attempt at passage recently failed by a 7-4 vote.

“We’ve been at this for eight months now. It’s incredibly frustrating,” Driscoll said. “These buildings have been vacant for years. We need to create a path to reuse them.”

Baker’s law would help, she said. But, despite broad support, it has proved hard to pass.

The measure stalled in last year’s legislative session on Beacon Hill after housing advocates and some lawmakers lobbied to include more aggressive zoning changes. Baker tried again during the informal session in December — when a single lawmaker can block a bill — and it fizzled when progressive legislators tried to include protections for tenants at risk of eviction.

At the State House rollout, Baker had a wide array of advocates on hand to back him up. Andre Leroux, executive director of the Massachusetts Smart Growth Alliance, said, “We should move forward on what we can.” Geoff Beckwith, president of the Massachusetts Municipal League, praised Baker’s bill, which he described as “bold in its impact, modest in its means,” and said “preserves and protects citizen-based decision-making.”

But there’s no telling how long that comity will last.

Housing advocates say they support Baker’s bill as a first step but made clear they’ll keep pushing for more. “We don’t think this is the last bite at the apple,” Leroux said. Beacon Hill veterans say that could be a tough sell to lawmakers wary of resistance back home, and perhaps from Baker himself."

Read more at The Boston Globe.

State House Winter

contine reading button