LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Some homebuyers priced out by bloated state government

Last July our General Assembly passed HB 279, which increased the real estate transfer tax — and thus the cost of homeownership — by 33 percent.

The median cost of a home in Kent County in 2015 was $195,000 per the Delaware Association of Realtors. Rounding that up to make the math easier, on a purchase of a $200,000 home, the new law spiked the total transfer tax from $6,000 to $8,000.

Eugenia Thornton

While the state of Delaware gains $2,000, the buyers, sellers and taxpayers of Kent County lose.

The sellers get $1,000 less from the sale. The buyers either lose the $1,000 out of pocket or must increase their mortgage.

Kent County taxpayers lose because we pay the salaries of the Recorder of Deeds office. We pay to collect these additional fees yet keep none of the new money.

I served as a Kent County Regional Planning Commissioner for the past 12 years. I know that one of the tenants in our Comprehensive Plan is that every citizen has the right to safe, decent, and affordable housing. But the state of Delaware seems to have other ideas.

In studies cited by the Homebuilders Association of Delaware, for every $1,000 added to the price of a home, 850 households are priced out of the market.

This impacts Kent County since, according the American Community Survey (Census Bureau), the median income here was $54,976 in 2015 — these figures have remained the same for the last five years. It’s already hard enough for folks in Kent County to afford a home.

Since this harmful law took effect on Aug. 1, 2017, things have changed in our state budget. Today we have $365,000,000 surplus.

Our next budget is due June 30. As our General Assembly grapples with what to do with the excess money, please join me in urging them to roll back HB 279 for everyone, but most especially for first time home buyers, many of whom have been priced out of the housing market by the transfer fee increase.

Eugenia Thornton
Frederica

EDITOR’S NOTE: Ms. Thornton is running for the office of Kent County Recorder of Deeds.

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