Minnesota Legislature to Reconvene for 2022 Session

By MNR News posted 01-05-2022 15:57

MNR legislative agenda includes support for more down-payment assistance and policies that will increase housing affordability and supply

The Minnesota Realtors® (MNR) Governmental Affairs (GA) Committee discussed and approved an ambitious agenda for the 2022 Legislative Session, which begins on January 31st. A key focus will be supporting legislation that promotes more widespread homeownership by increasing housing affordability and supply. As always, MNR will vigorously oppose any actions that increase the cost of homeownership or interfere with the use, ownership, or transfer of property. Following is an overview of some key issues that are likely to come up at the Capitol in 2022.

“Comprehensive Housing Affordability Act” likely to dominate housing policy reform discussions

Responding to the chronic lack of housing inventory and rising home prices, Rep. Steve Elkins (DFL, Bloomington) and Sen. Rich Draheim (R, Madison Lake), plan on introducing a comprehensive housing policy reform bill during the 2022 Legislative Session. The bill, in its current form, includes zoning and regulatory reforms that are intended to stimulate housing development that will be affordable to more Minnesotans. These reforms include changes to zoning laws that will allow for developments with smaller homes on smaller lots.

Both Rep. Elkins and Sen. Draheim attended the MNR GA committee’s October 14th meeting,  where they discussed their draft legislation, spoke with committee members about the challenges facing the housing market, and outlined how their proposal will address them.

“The discussion was informative and overwhelmingly positive,” said Paul Eger, MNR senior vice president of Government Affairs. “MNR’s GA team is looking forward to working with both legislators and other stakeholders as the bill evolves.”

Increasing access to down payment assistance

Keenly aware that lack of capital for a down payment is one of the most significant barriers to homeownership, especially for low and moderate income households and communities of color, MNR is working with a diverse group of nonprofits, lenders, and local units of government on a legislative proposal that would increase funding for down payment assistance (DPA).

“Greater availability of DPA is a key to increasing access to sustainable homeownership and reducing the racial homeownership gap,” Eger said. “We’re working to both increase funding for DPA, and improve its delivery to those who most need it.”

A 2021 report commissioned jointly by MNR and the Minnesota Homeownership Center found that with grants of $10,500 or less, nearly 112,000 low-to-moderate income renters could purchase their own homes.

MNR continues opposing policies that would increase the cost of homeownership or interfere with the use, ownership, or transfer of property

Several measures may be considered during the Session that would make it more expensive to own a home or restrict the ability to use or transfer property. MNR will oppose any actions that:

  • Impose development impact fees
  • Expand the sales tax to real estate services
  • Implement “opportunity to purchase” policies for tenants renting in manufactured-home parks, which interfere with an owner’s ability to freely market and sell their property without unreasonable restrictions
  • Enact rent control*
  • Introduce unnecessary point-of-sale mandates on real estate transactions, such as well testing at property transfer

*Rent control was passed via ballot initiative in St. Paul in November 2021 and Minneapolis voters authorized the City Council to regulate rents on private residential property within the City.