HBAI Pushing Bills in Springfield to Help Housing Market

May 03, 2010

When members of the Home Builders Association of Illinois recently traveled to Springfield to meet with elected officials for the 21st HBAI Lobby Day, they brought with them some heavy numbers.

*From 2000 to 2005, an average of 43,788 single-family homes were built each year. Last year, it was 8,800, a post-depression record low.

*During those same years, the home construction industry employed an average of 188,442 Illinois workers yearly. Last year, it provided only 28,326 jobs.

*And, during those “golden years,” the housing industry generated $12.5 billion in income for Illinois residents and $2.8 billion in taxes and fees. Last year? It was a meager $1.9 billion and $444 million respectively.

*The new home construction market has dropped by 77 percent.

Some of the legislators were shocked by these stats, which were generated by the Housing Policy Department of the National Association of Home Builders, and some said they wanted to help.

Senator Deanna Demuzio

One of those legislators is Senator Deanna Demuzio (D-Carlinville), who is sponsoring a bill called SB2997 that would allow a one-time tax credit of up to $7,500 for new home buyers. Not only would the effort help Illinois homeowners, but it could benefit state and local government as well. How?

“Let’s assume for a moment that the program would have doubled last year’s output, increasing new home sales in 2010 from 8,800 units to 17,600 units,” said Bill Ward, HBAI Executive Vice President. “Assuming the average tax credit on each new home is somewhere around $5000, the payout in total tax credits would be somewhere around $88 million that would go back into the pockets of not us, but the new home buyer. ‘

“But what is the benefit to government? Well, the increase to 17,600 units would double the tax generation from $444 million to $888 million in one-year impact taxation. Recurring tax revenues would double from $117 million to $234 million.

“If you could trade $88 million for $1.12 billion, wouldn’t you do it? The answer is yes everywhere in the world except Springfield, Illinois where the answer is currently “No.” Not only was the answer no, the legislators didn’t even want to hear about it.”

Ward said the Illinois General Assembly is in session until May 31 discussing a state tax increase, so there is still time for HBAI officials to push the SB2997 bill.

Also in Springfield, House Republican Leader Tom Cross, on behalf of the Home Builders Association of Illinois, filed bill HB6853, which would provide property tax relief and extend the “developers exemption” to individuals that purchase distressed developments.

Ward said that a select few land developers are in secured financial positions that enable them to purchase foreclosed properties on partially developed land.

“Local assessors have yet again found a “loophole” in State law that they believe enables the increased assessment of platted and developed land, despite the fact that no residential structure exists on the lots,” said Ward.

“It truly appears as though local governments will resort to any means necessary to increase your property taxes to ensure adequate funding of public employee benefits.”

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