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bostonglobe199 karma

We do hear this fairly often when talking about housing in Boston. The reason you've never seen any numbers substantiating those claims is because there is a distinct lack of data on this issue to tell us how significant the problem is. There are quite a few anecdotal examples in areas of the city like East Boston.

That said, there have been huge waves of foreign investment in local housing stock in Sun Belt cities like Tampa over the last two years. And in the 2010s, investors from China were really active in Boston's housing market. But the experts I've spoken to generally agree that foreign investment in housing here has cooled off substantially.

bostonglobe161 karma

Ask any expert on this issue and they will tell you the same thing: loosen the state's zoning rules. Massachusetts has especially restrictive zoning laws because we leave the issue up to towns, many of which drafted their rules decades ago in an era when zoning was a tool for exclusion along racial and class lines and have hardly changed them since. That means we get a lot of single family homes, when the demand in our region is largely for multifamily housing.

The idea is that if the state takes some more control here, which it has the legal authority to do, and loosens local zoning rules to allow for more multifamily development, that will help the region's supply shortage.

That said, building market rate housing alone is not a solution. Even if we dramatically loosened zoning rules tomorrow, it would take years for the supply shortage to begin to ease. A lot of advocates and experts generally agree that, in order to keep more residents here in the short term, we need to pass stronger affordable housing laws, targeting folks in the income groups that our current affordable housing rules miss.

A lot of folks argue we also need more short term protections for tenants as well, though that's where experts and advocates are divided in opinion.

bostonglobe123 karma

Still a proud member of the Soul Skaters.

bostonglobe116 karma

There was some movement on this under the Walsh Administration back in 2020, but it seems to have fizzled since. There are quite a few high-cost cities in the US that have managed to ban brokers fees, but it hasn't quite caught on in the Northeast. They were successfully banned in New York state back in 2020, but that ban was overturned by a state judge about a month later. They haven't taken up the issue since. To get brokers fees banned in Boston, most policymakers believe state legislation would be necessary.

bostonglobe50 karma

Will be interesting to see for the following reasons:

  1. I've been talking to a lot of landlords and developers about Wu's proposal, and it has been interesting to hear that most are in agreement that a rent cap of CPI + 6 percent (what Wu has proposed and the city council passed on to the Legislature last week), wouldn't be a huge pain point for property owners. They're more against the policy because they're worried about the rent cap going lower. If Wu's policy does pass, the city tells me a new Home Rule petition would be required if they ever did want to lower the cap.
  2. The other big piece of Wu's proposal to pay attention to is the 15-year exemption for new construction. Generally speaking, most developers can make back their money and then some in 15 years.
  3. There's already been a notable response from developers, including at least one of the big players in Boston who said they have paused any new development deals or inquiries until the rent control policy's fate is decided. If it passes, that developer pretty strongly implied to me that they'll leave Boston.