Lauren Bunting

Lauren Bunting

(May 14, 2021) In 2021, the Maryland State Legislature convened on Jan. 13 and adjourned on April 12. Maryland Realtors issues a report each year on the Maryland Legislative session to summarize the legislation that affects the real estate industry. Below are a few of the items from the report that did pass (a full report showing bills that did not pass is available at mdrealtor.org):

Open Doors to Stronger Neighborhoods: Realtors initiated an advocacy campaign this year called “Open Doors to Stronger Neighborhoods.” The campaign seeks to expand housing opportunities in Maryland and focused its message on legislators and about 230,000 Marylanders.

Key “Open Doors” legislation for 2021 included:

Tax-Free Homebuyer Savings Accounts – HB1178

This legislation allows first-time homebuyers (who have not owned a home in Maryland in the last seven years), the ability to contribute up to $5,000 tax-free (state taxes) a year up to $50,000 total.

The money can be used for any downpayment or closing costs listed on the settlement sheet. The accounts may only be created by the first-time buyer (does not allow a third-party like a parent to create an account for a child).

Broadband Access: HB 97– creating the Office of Statewide Broadband and HB 1328/SB 824 – authorizing joint trenching to enable more cost-effective broadband access.

HB 97/SB 66 – creates a statewide office with the goal of connecting all Maryland households to fast internet by 2026. This law was signed by the governor on April 13.

HB 1328/SB 824 – authorizes local counties to expedite infrastructure projects extending broadband, waive fees and engage in region wide efforts. (Does not apply to local governments in Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission — WSSC).

The state designated $300 million from federal stimulus money to help fund these efforts.

Miscellaneous Bills:

Sink Holes Notice HB 399—the bill requires a new paragraph in real estate contracts informing buyers about “dewatering zones” (sink holes). The original bill would have been a multi-page addendum and required the seller to figure out if the property was in a dewatering zone.

– Lauren Bunting is an Associate Broker with Atlantic Shores Sotheby’s International Realty in Ocean City.

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