HGAR to Lobby State Lawmakers On Key Consumer, Industry Bills

John Jordan | March 2018

HGAR Members at the State Capitol in Albany on Lobby Day in 2017

ALBANY—A contingent of more than 40 members of the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors are expected to travel to the state capital later this month to meet with state lawmakers and advocate for consumer and real estate industry reform legislation.

The contingent will be led by Leah Caro and John Olivero, co-chairs of the HGAR Legislative, Political and Legal Issues Committee, HGAR Chief Executive Officer Richard Haggerty and HGAR Government Affairs Director Philip Weiden. HGAR will join Realtor associations from across New York State as part of NYSAR’s annual Lobby Day program on March 20.

“We encourage any HGAR member who has an interest in legislative issues to join us for Lobby Day when we meet with our legislators in the Senate and the Assembly to discuss issues of vital importance to the real estate industry and homeownership in New York,” said HGAR Chief Executive Officer Richard Haggerty.

He added, “Each year the Hudson Valley delegation tells us how informative and useful our Lobby Day session is so that they clearly understand the issues that impact real estate practitioners and consumers in our region.”

Recently, HGAR finalized its public policy priorities agenda for the Hudson Valley and its Manhattan chapter. Among the key items HGAR representatives plan to discuss with the Hudson Valley and New York City delegations include continued support for the first-time homebuyer savings account legislation. Last year, the State Legislature passed the first-time homebuyer savings account bill, but in December, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the bill, but issued a memorandum in conjunction with the approval that at the very least delays its implementation.

The legislation would allow individuals seeking to purchase their first home to establish a savings account and make annual tax-deductible contributions of up to $5,000 for an individual or head of household or $10,000 for married taxpayers who file taxes jointly. The bill put a cap on contributions of up to $100,000 for the purchase or construction of their primary residence.

The governor reached an agreement with the State Legislature to pass legislation in the upcoming session requiring the Division of Community Renewal, in consultation with the Department of Taxation and Finance and the State of New York Mortgage Authority, to study “opportunities for, and implications of, a tax-advantaged first home savings program.”

The study, which is expected to be completed and its findings released on June 30, is to include a detailed review of the fiscal and economic impacts of the bill.

Another legislative priority to be detailed at the meetings with Hudson Valley lawmakers is HGAR’s opposition to any increase in mortgage recording or transfer taxes in the New York City/Hudson Valley region.

HGAR strongly opposes a proposal by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and the New York State Legislature to impose a “New York City” real estate transfer tax of an additional 2.5% on the sale of properties valued at more than $2 million. This increase is in addition to the current “mansion tax,” which imposes an additional 1% tax on the transfer of a home that sells for $1 million or more. Levying additional taxes on real estate will curb real estate transfers, reduce tax revenues and negatively impact the economy, HGAR contends.

The association is also advocating for mandate relief by enacting the “Let New York Work” agenda. HGAR also seeks to extend the 2% property tax cap, which has saved $7.6 billion in taxpayer dollars, according to the Empire Center.

Specific legislation to be addressed by the HGAR contingent will include the support of the “Transparency and Disclosure in Cooperative Housing” bill that requires co-op boards to give reasons in writing to an applicant, and establish reasonable time frames for co-op boards to act on applications. Rockland County Executive Ed Day recently signed legislation requiring a 45-day time frame for a co-op board to make a decision on an applicant and urged the County Legislature to enact legislation requiring co-op boards to provide a reason for a denial of an applicant in a timely fashion. Westchester County is currently considering legislation that would require a timely decision by co-op boards as well as notification of the reasons behind an applicant’s denial.

HGAR is also supporting a bill that would increase the threshold of the Mansion Tax by having it triggered to the Consumer Price Index. HGAR also supports a bill that would impose vested rights for property owners. The association is also planning to make its opposition known to state lawmakers on what it terms as “unnecessary legislation” that would increase the state Department of Environmental Conservation’s oversight of wetlands from the current threshold of 12.4 acres or more to wetlands as small as one acre.

HGAR is also supporting legislation sponsored by New York State Assemblywoman Amy Paulin of Scarsdale that would require municipalities to maintain a consistent set of rules throughout a construction project, except in reasonable instances.

In addition, HGAR’s Manhattan Chapter will be meeting with New York City state representatives to stress its opposition to legislation that would increase the Mansion Tax in New York City; and another bill that would impose a flip tax that imposes an additional 15% real estate transfer tax on residential properties sold within one year and a 10% transfer tax on residential properties sold after one year, but less than two years from the prior purchase or conveyance.

HGAR strongly opposes legislation that would prohibit licensed real estate brokers and salespersons from selling or listing any property for sale or for rent in a New York City neighborhood that is not a traditionally recognized neighborhood. Violators would be subject to a monetary fine, license suspension or license revocation at the discretion of the New York State Secretary of State. HGAR opposes what it calls “this burdensome and misguided legislation because there is no current legal description of what constitutes a ‘neighborhood boundary’ nor a ‘traditionally recognized neighborhood.’ This legislation will only cause consumer confusion and market disruptions in a constantly evolving real estate marketplace,” HGAR stated.

HGAR will be running two buses to Albany. One will leave from Whole Foods in White Plains and will make an interim stop at DeCicco’s Market in Brewster. The other will leave from the HGAR West Nyack offices and will make an interim stop at the rear center entrance of the Newburgh Mall.

For more information, including departure times etc., and to register to attend Lobby Day please go to http://www.hgar.com/event/lobby-day-2018-march-20/.

John Jordan
Editor, Real Estate In-Depth