Homeownership has long been accepted as a core component of the American dream. There is no doubt that homeownership brings social benefits to a neighborhood, everything from neighbors who are more willing to intervene in community problems to residents who are more likely to join Parent-Teacher Associations and neighborhood watch groups, which tends to lead to both lower violent and property crime rates.
We as lawmakers should be promoting homeownership considering it is one of the most effective ways to build wealth presently and historically. This is a vital first step for all income levels but has proven to result in an even greater impact for our lower income earners. The lower the income of a homeowning household, the greater the share of its wealth coming from homeownership. Unfortunately, homeownership has continued to decline year after year in Maryland — down to 69% from 72% in 2020.
Part of the House Republican Caucus’ legislative agenda is building a strong economy. Serving in leadership as the assistant minority whip, I have introduced the Affordable Housing Act of 2023 (House Bill 766). The act would eliminate the state transfer tax on the purchase of primary residences priced at $350,000 and under. This is a small step that could generate an immense difference between approval or denial for those first-time homebuyers who do not have the benefit of escalating home prices that have created large equity positions for current homeowners.
Homeownership and the real estate market equity can create the advancement of self-reliance, individual ascension up the economic ladder to financial independence and freedom, and the ability for more Marylanders to acquire their own problem-solving resources. If passed, I see this having the most dramatic effect in communities that have been historically underinvested in by incentivizing homeownership over renting.
Maryland would not have to spend a single penny in order to put this program into effect. I am simply asking that we allow the Maryland citizen to keep the $28 million so they can begin their journey up the economic ladder of financial security through the American dream of homeownership. Furthermore, HB766 will hold counties harmless in their tax revenues and will not apply to county transfer taxes.
This is a commonsense approach to embolden the first-time homebuyers, and the lower-priced market consumers, to enter the current market space on their way to wealth creation.
I presented this bill in the Ways and Means Committee on February 21, but it must be passed by the committee and the House floor by March 20. If you’d like to offer your support, I encourage you to send emails asking members of the committee to vote favorably on HB766.
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