How Much Would a Transfer Fee on Expensive Real Estate Generate for Your City or Town?

The sharply rising price of housing has worsened racial and economic disparities between rich and poor. Ongoing public spending on local amenities and services supports the value of real estate in communities. Sellers of real estate in Massachusetts currently contribute to public investment by paying a small fee based on the sale price of their home. Many states enable local governments to collect an additional fee on more expensive real estate sales. Sellers of higher-priced properties have often made large gains as a result of fast-rising home prices and they are typically best able to afford a higher fee.

Several proposals in the Massachusetts legislature would allow cities and towns to choose to collect an additional real estate transfer fee on the sale of more expensive homes. Typically, proposals would dedicate the money to supporting affordable housing in these communities. The Governor recently proposed, through the Affordable Homes Act, enabling municipalities to collect real estate transfer fees on high-priced housing sales. Municipalities would be required to use the revenue generated from this fee for affordable housing purposes.

The following interactive dashboard provides data for each of Massachusetts’ 351 cities and towns on how much revenue a community could raise by a real estate transfer fee. The value of a real estate transfer fee depends on the rate (0.5 percent to 2 percent under current proposals), the sale price threshold over which the fee applies, and the method of calculating the fee (assessed on the entire sale price or only the portion of the sale price above the threshold). The price threshold used in this dashboard is $1 million for all counties except Dukes and Nantucket, for which the price threshold is equal to the county median sale price. This dashboard provides an estimate of the revenue raised under various rates and under both methods of calculating the assessed fee.

You can select one or more municipalities and can save each dashboard page as a pdf. 

Sales data are 2021 Warren Group data, inflation-adjusted to 2023 dollars. County 2023 median sales price data are from Warren Group, as reported through September 2023.


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