Santa Fe Considers Mansions Tax as Housing Prices Soar

Voters are deciding whether or not to tax mansions to pay for reasonably priced housing initiatives in a state capital metropolis prized for its desert-mountain vistas, vibrant arts scene and stucco structure rooted in Native American and Spanish-colonial custom.

The tax on houses bought for greater than $1 million is being pitched as a lifeline to academics, service-sector staff, single dad and mom and younger professionals who cannot afford native mortgages or battle to pay hire amid a nationwide housing scarcity and the arrival in Santa Fe of high-income digital nomads and prosperous retirees.

The Nov. 7 poll measure is the most recent bellwether for the recognition of so-called mansion taxes to fund reasonably priced housing and stave off homelessness. It comes on the heels of a voter-approved initiative in Los Angeles and new proposals from Chicago to Massachusetts.

If authorised, the measure would add a 3% tax on residential property gross sales of $1 million or extra — with no tax on the primary $1 million in worth.

On a $1.2 million house sale, for instance, the brand new tax would apply to $200,000 in worth. The purchaser would pay $6,000 to town’s reasonably priced housing belief fund.

The metropolis estimates that the tax would generate about $6 million yearly for the belief, which underwrites price-restricted housing, down-payment help for low-income homebuyers and rental help to stave off monetary hardship and evictions.

The belief awards funds every year to reasonably priced housing suppliers who can safe matching funds from different authorities and nonprofit sources, defined Alexandra Ladd, director of Santa Fe’s reasonably priced housing workplace.

But Santa Fe voters have shied away from distinguished tax initiatives prior to now, rejecting a proposed related 1% tax on high-end house gross sales in 2009 and defeating a tax on sugary drinks to broaden early childhood schooling in 2017.

Second-term Santa Fe Mayor Alan Webber, a Democrat, helps the tax and says hovering housing prices are threatening the “heart and soul” of town.

“We’re attracting folks who can Zoom to work elsewhere and live in an outstanding place with great climate and culture and history and food,” he mentioned. “We’ve become a magnet, and we don’t want to lose the local community that has lived here all their lives, or for generations, and to suddenly see that diversity give way to only higher-income people.”

The proposal has earned endorsements from an array of native companies, commerce unions, faculty board members, former mayors and Democratic U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich.

“The housing crisis in this town is outrageous,” mentioned Susan Coulter, a retired scientist, who helps that tax regardless of considerations in regards to the metropolis’s monetary controls.

Cities and states are displaying renewed curiosity in taxes on high-value actual property transactions to handle housing affordability, in keeping with Samantha Waxman, a deputy director for state fiscal coverage on the Washington, D.C.-based Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

Voters in Los Angles final yr authorised a tiered-rate tax on residential and industrial actual property gross sales — beginning at 4% for gross sales above $5 million — to handle housing shortages. Chicago could ask voters subsequent yr whether or not to lift actual property switch taxes, beginning with gross sales over $1 million, to battle homelessness.

A proposal in October from Democratic Massachusetts Gov. Maura Healey would enable native governments to impose an actual property switch payment of as much as 2% on property sale proceeds above $1 million — or a county’s median house sale worth if larger.

“We’re looking at these high-value homes that are being bought and sold,” Waxman mentioned. “Then there’s also these challenges with affordable housing, housing prices increasing in general, and it being really difficult to afford rent and difficult to afford purchasing.”

Perched on the southern finish of the Rocky Mountains, Santa Fe is within the midst of a constructing increase, with hundreds of just lately authorised housing models steadily coming on-line inside metropolis limits since 2021 — together with an array of multifamily housing tasks.

Advocates for sponsored housing say that hasn’t translated into accessible costs, with a lot of the new models renting at free-market charges that may pressure private or household funds.

Meanwhile, town’s median house worth has practically doubled since 2017 to about $600,000, a city-commissioned evaluation discovered.

“People moving here with wealth that far exceeds the buying capacity of local workers, that pulls housing costs away from those workers,” said Daniel Werwath, executive director of New Mexico Inter-Faith Housing, a nonprofit developer of income-restricted housing. “I think we’re into a pretty crazy feedback loop.”

The Santa Fe Association of Realtors says the proposed tax oversteps town’s authority underneath state regulation, and has filed a preemptive lawsuit to dam it.

Drew Lamprich, the affiliation’s president, says the change would take a chew out of house gross sales, and finally the native financial system.

“There will be folks that decide to buy somewhere else, not liking the divisiveness of this element,” he mentioned.

At a downtown polling place for early voting, retired architect Rita Meek mentioned she fears the tax will improve tensions between comparatively rich enclaves and predominantly working class neighborhoods.

“I think we should be more united,” she mentioned.

But her husband, Peter Meek, helps the tax.

“We’re losing a lot of our workforce: teachers, police officers, construction labor,” he mentioned. “The individuals who can afford a million-dollar house ought to wish to assist.”

Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This materials will not be revealed, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed with out permission.

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