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I'm Thinking "Yes" - Brunswick County Real Estate Transfer Tax

I am a Southport, NC real estate broker and the subject I’m offering up for discussion deals with the real estate transfer tax. I know, I know, all real estate agents, builders, and developers are collectively opposed to them. Pardon me for being the repugnant here but I’m not sure what my vote is going to be come November. At 4:00 today the Brunswick County Commissioners will hold a public meeting to discuss the proposal of a .4% real estate transfer tax. Brunswick is one of 16 North Carolina counties to get approval from the State legislature to add this tax referendum to the November ballot. So far the NC Realtors Association has spent $600,000 to fight this tax proposal in the General Assembly.

I admit to having been on the sidelines on this issue up until now. It seems that Realtors are nearly unanimously opposed and set to do battle here locally and across the Country. Brunswick County Commissioners say that a new source of revenue is sorely needed for the building of local roads because of short funding in the State’s Highway Trust Fund. It seems that money from this Fund has been used to help balance the State budget.

That being a whole other story, the Brunswick County Commissioners are taking a pro-active approach and trying find another source of funds for, not only badly-needed road improvements, but also schools. Evidently, the idea of a real estate transfer tax scares us Realtors and our symbiotic counterparts to death. I tend to see the glass half full and maybe I’m being naive, but I just don’t believe folks are going to stop coming to Brunswick County if this proposed tax were to go through. I hate taxes as much as the next person. I’ve been self-employed for virtually all of my working life and have always felt frustration in what little I get to keep after the government(s) get theirs. I will say, however, that I would prefer a transfer tax over the further raising of property taxes for all. Yes, yes, you’ve got the poor first time home buyer that would have to come up with an additional $800 on a 200K home. My two oldest children are now self-supporting but not able to afford their own home. When the time comes and they are able, I don’t think that what amounts to one month’s rent, will keep them from achieving their goal. Most of our buyers are retirees that are moving down from the North where property taxes are at least double what they are here so I don’t think the proposed tax will slow the migration. And besides, it’s the huge influx of new retirees that brings the need for new roads to accommodate their being here! And indirectly, the building and service industry growth needed to sustain the wants and needs of these newbies brings families into the area, that increase the load on our schools. Raising property taxes is hard on everyone, especially the old-timers who are finding it hard to keep up with the increased expense of owning property in Brunswick County.

A .4% real estate transfer tax doesn’t seem unreasonable to me. I promise to listen to both sides of the argument and when November rolls around, I’ll try and vote with my head, and not my pocketbook.

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