After a public hearing on Wednesday, June 20, before the Joint Committee on Revenue, the Somerville Transfer Fee Home Rule Petition, H4582, An Act authorizing the City of Somerville to impose a real estate transfer fee, was reported out favorably and will now move forward to the next stage of the legislative process.
"I am pleased that Somerville’s real estate transfer fee home rule petition is moving forward, and I am very grateful to the Joint Committee on Revenue and Chairman Kaufman for the favorable report," Rep. Connolly stated.
Wednesday’s hearing featured testimony from the entire Somerville legislative delegation, including Representatives Denise Provost (who co-filed the bill), Christine Barber, and Senator Patricia Jehlen. The hearing also featured testimony from Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone and legal services attorney Ellen Shachter (who has recently been hired as the Director of Somerville’s newly-formed Office of Housing Stability), as well as Ward 1 Alderman Matt McLaughlin, Ward 2 Alderman JT Scott, Ward 3 Alderman Ben Ewen-Campen, Ward 5 Alderman Mark Niedergang, Alderman-at-large Stephanie Hirsch, School Committee member Lee Erica Palmer, and several other local advocates. Public comment at the hearing was overwhelmingly in support of the petition.
The home rule petition would 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 revenue raised from the fee would go in to the City's affordable housing trust fund. Check out this blog post from earlier this week for more information on the content and background of this home rule petition.
The petition will now advance to a secondary committee for further consideration, most likely the House Committee on Steering, Policy, and Scheduling. From there, it will hopefully move to the Committee on Bills in Third Reading, and then to the floor of the House for a vote and the Senate for a vote.