What is happening to the dream of home ownership in New Jersey?

Although acting Gov. Codey’s proposed budget was reportedly recognized by analysts on Wall Street as potentially providing a newfound structural balance for the state, this impending balance is reached by digging deep into the pockets of New Jersey’s middle class residents, potential New Jersey residents, and small business owners. While the bill does not raise the corporate business tax, a means of generating revenue in years past, it does expand the sales tax on goods and services we all use, which could threaten the financial stability of many small companies.

Also of great concern to small business owners, particularly members of my organization, is the proposed increase in the real estate transfer tax on home sales between $150,000 and $350,000. This would be the third straight year this tax has been raised, in a market where the rising price of housing has become overwhelming for scores of potential home buyers.

It was reported that a seller on a home worth $250,000 would pay $1,700 in realty transfer taxes, a $400 increase. Speaking on behalf of New Jersey’s small businesses, including area builders, and on behalf of all home buyers in New Jersey, I want to firmly oppose this section of Gov. Codey’s budget. Housing in New Jersey is becoming less and less attainable for the middle-class resident, and this budget would hinder their opportunities even more.

This real estate transfer tax increase is compounded by the proposed cutting of property tax rebates, and the scaling back of Homestead Rebates for senior citizens and disabled homeowners from a maximum of $1,200 to $800.

I realize the governor has to make tough decisions to gain revenue to balance the budget. But the fact is, this proposed budget hits the middle class resident and/or business owner with new tax liabilities, in addition to potentially taking away the affordability of the American dream for New Jersey’s home buyers. To quote the theme of the New Jersey Association of Realtors’ action center against the proposed budget, “Why are we taxing homes when we want to promote home ownership?”

Tom Critelli