HGAR Lobbies State Lawmakers on Key Issues; Wins Victory in Thwarting Transfer Tax Increase

John Jordan | June 2016

Lobby Day 2016 - HGAR Members Meet with Senators and Members of the Assembly

ALBANY—The Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors launched significant lobbying efforts recently on the local and state levels to advance legislation aimed at enhancing or protecting consumer rights and preventing passage of anti-consumer bills or proposals that would harm the industry.

HGAR Members with Assemblymember Steven Otis
HGAR Members with Assemblymember Steven Otis

On the state level, a total of 45 members of the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors traveled to Albany on May 24th by car and bus to present state lawmakers representing HGAR’s four-county area the association’s 2016 legislative priorities.

At press time, progress was being made on a proposal long advocated by HGAR and the New York State Association of Realtors—Fairness in Cooperative Home Ownership Act (S5644), sponsored by State Senator Kemp Hannon of Garden City, that would establish a clear timeline of 10 days for the receipt of an application to be acknowledged by the cooperative board, and requires the cooperative board to make a decision within 45 days. NYSAR and HGAR issued a Call to Action on June 13 for Realtors to contact lawmakers on the proposed bill. NYSAR reported that the State Senate passed the measure.

On Tuesday, June 14th, NYSAR reported that the Realtor supported NY First Home bill (A.4427-B/S.7903) passed unanimously in the Senate Finance Committee. Later, the full New York State Senate passed the bill by a 61-0 vote.

On the local political front, Caro, HGAR successfully lobbied the Yonkers City Council to reject a proposal by Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano to double its transfer tax from 1.5% to 3%. Leah Caro, Broker/Owner of Bronxville Real Estate, told Real Estate In-Depth the increase in the transfer tax in Yonkers would have devastated the residential sales market in Yonkers.

Lobby Day in Albany

HGAR President Marcene Hedayati, Legislative Committee Chair John Lease III and Association. Also providing support for the delegation were HGAR CEO Richard Haggerty, HGAR COO Ann Garti and HGAR Government Affairs Director Philip Weiden.

Ann Garti, HGAR COO, Phil Weiden HGAR Director of Gov't Affairs  and Katheryn DeClerck
Ann Garti, HGAR COO, Phil Weiden HGAR Director of Gov't Affairs and Katheryn DeClerck

The lobbying effort was part of the New York State Association of Realtors’ Annual Lobby Day. This year’s event drew the largest number of Realtors from associations across New York State in the history of the Lobby Day program.

HGAR met with a number of state lawmakers in a meeting room in the Capitol Building Room in the Senate Office Building and then visited all members of the Hudson Valley state delegation to discuss HGAR’s legislative priorities individually or with their staff.

Among HGAR’s chief legislative priorities include: support for the NY First Home proposal that would establish a first-time home buyer savings account; opposition to any mortgage recording and transfer tax proposals; support for an increase to the threshold of the Mansion Tax; support for proposals that would foster transparency and disclosure in the cooperative housing purchase process; and support for vested rights for property owners.

HGAR’s legislative priorities also include: opposition to legislation that would add “Source of Income” as a protected class; opposition to expanded agricultural disclosure notice requirements; support for reform of the Scaffold Law and opposition to any legislation that would require disclosure of the availability of certain sex offender information upon the sale or lease of a property. HGAR notes that it supports disclosing sex offender information, but opposes the legal liability created by any such disclosure requirements.

NYS Assemblywomen Shelly Mayer meeting with HGAR delegation in the Capitol Building Room
NYS Assemblywomen Shelly Mayer meeting with HGAR delegation in the Capitol Building Room

During its presentation to some state lawmakers and staff at the Capitol Building Room, which included State Assemblywoman Shelley Mayer of Yonkers, HGAR officials stressed its opposition to the proposed transfer tax now before the Yonkers City Council.

Yonkers Transfer Tax Hike

The transfer tax proposal, part of Yonkers Mayor Spano’s proposed 2016-2017 budget, would have increased the transfer tax by $7,500 on the purchase of a $500,000 house in Yonkers.

On June 9, the Yonkers City Council by a slim 4-3 vote adopted the $1.12-billion budget that did not include the transfer tax increase. Instead, the council decided to raise the property tax as a means to balance the budget. The tax rate per thousand dollars of assessed value in Yonkers increases by 4.2%. A typical one-to-three family home at the median assessed value of $11,300 will see their annual property tax bill increase by $337, or $28 per month, city officials stated.

A spokesperson for Mayor Spano said that the mayor was not likely to veto the City Council-passed budget.

Caro said that the transfer tax increase would have “stolen the fragile equity” Yonkers homeowners have struggled to amass since the end of the Great Recession. She added that the transfer tax would have been especially harmful to seniors and would have resulted in more short sales, some property owners deciding to either not put their homes on the market or take their homes off the market entirely.

Leah Caro, Derick King, NYSAR and  Richard Haggerty HGAR CEO
Leah Caro, Derick King, NYSAR and Richard Haggerty HGAR CEO

She added that while Realtors understand the complexities in formulating and approving a municipal budget, the hike in the transfer tax in Yonkers would have crippled the residential market in Yonkers and adversely impacted the many other industries and trades that rely on a healthy housing market.

Photo Caption: A total of 45 HGAR members traveled to Albany on Lobby Day on May 24th.

More pictures from Lobby Day

 

 

John Jordan
Editor, Real Estate In-Depth