Hearing on Somerville's Real Estate Transfer Fee Petition scheduled for Wednesday

On Wednesday, June 20, the legislature’s Joint Committee on Revenue will hear testimony on H.4582, An Act Authorizing the City of Somerville to Impose a Real Estate Transfer Fee­. The legislation has been co-filed by Representatives Mike Connolly and Denise Provost and co-sponsored by Representative Christine Barber and Senator Pat Jehlen. The hearing will take place at the State House in Room B2 at 10 am.

The home rule petition was unanimously approved by the Board of Alderman and signed by Mayor Joe Curtatone last month. It will authorize the City of Somerville to impose a fee of up to 1% on investors, developers, and absentee landlords who buy property in the City of Somerville, as well as up to a 1% fee on investors, developers, and absentee landlords who sell property in the city. This means that the transfer fee would exempt ALL owner-occupant sellers as well as ALL buyers who will be owner-occupants. Transfers between family members, transfers of convenience, and transfers to the government would be exempt, along with vulnerable seniors and individuals who qualify for the residential exemption.

The process of crafting the Somerville Transfer Fee home rule petition began in 2015, when Mayor Curtatone established the Sustainable Neighborhoods Working Group to pursue new ideas that would support the City’s efforts to protect and preserve existing affordable housing, expand the City’s resources for creating more affordable housing, and address the need for middle-income housing for working families. After nearly a year of research and deliberation the Working Group, which was chaired by Alderman Mark Niedergang and former City Housing Director Dana LeWinter, issued a series of recommendations, including that the City adopt a requirement of a fee on certain real estate transactions (known as a “transfer fee”) to support affordable housing, with specific exemptions to be established. The Board of Aldermen’s Committee on Legislative Matters discussed the transfer fee petition eleven times between January and May of this year.

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All are welcome to submit testimony to [email protected], aide to the Joint Committee on Revenue. You may also contact [email protected], aide to Rep. Connolly, if you have any questions about the legislative process for this petition, or for any other matter.