The housing industry found itself entrenched in an action-packed 2017 legislative session that featured a $46 billion budget battle and a limited appetite for controversial policy items. Undeterred, the Minnesota REALTORS and Builders Association of the Twin Cities pressed forward with the Minnesota Homeownership Initiative and came out with several major wins.
Gov. Dayton signed three major housing initiatives into law that featured a strong bipartisan mix of support and substantive changes to the housing industry. A technical fix to the twin home sprinkler issue was also addressed.
The Homeownership Initiative was highlighted by the proposal to create a tax incentive for first-time homebuyers. Much like a college savings account, the First-Time Home Buyer Savings Account encourages Minnesotans to save more of their own money by providing tax deductions and incentives to help with down payments and closing costs for first-time homebuyers.
For condo and townhome builders, welcome relief is on the way to address the fast-track lawsuits that have severely impacted multifamily development over the past decade. Homeowner associations are now required to enter mediation prior to initiating a lawsuit and a majority of all owners are required to vote in favor of initiating a legal action against a developer. This approach was adopted in Colorado where similar issues have plagued their housing market.
Over the past decade, housing moratoria have impacted local housing markets and were often imposed without any notice to the public. This was remedied by legislation to require a public notice and hearing prior to the imposition of a housing moratorium, offering time for a broader discussion of impacts prior to a city making a major decision that will impact its residents.
The legislature also implemented a technical fix to the BATC v. DLI court decision that struck down the sprinkler mandate in one and two-family homes. Under the order signed by Gov. Dayton, sprinklers are not required in one and two-family homes.
These industry wins cement a strong 2017 legislative session where housing rose to new heights.