#SpeculatorsWithoutBorders extracting affordable housing from Cambridge

A controversial protest organized by Black Lives Matter Cambridge resulted in extensive media coverage and an open letter last week in the Cambridge Chronicle entitled, Fight for affordable housing in Cambridge is fight for black liberation. Unfortunately, the same publication rejected my comment so posting here and eager to share with City Councilors, various affordable housing committees, and Envision Cambridge — the $3.3M citywide planning process.


Encourage affordable housing advocates to look at the impact “external demand” and bidding wars are having on a daily basis in Cambridge; and as reflected in the bullet points in the attached above, the long-term implications of the globalization of real estate. As you can see from this announcement posted on a Cambridge real estate agent’s Facebook page, it’s no secret that Cambridge real estate agents are courting international buyers and investor pools:


My sense, unverified at this point and potentially unverifiable unless policy changes are made, is that foreign buyers and investor pools are removing affordable housing (which they define as $500K starter condos) faster then they can be added to the housing inventory.

What can we learn from other cities about how to respond? Vancouver has imposed a new 15% real estate transfer tax on foreign buyers. Significantly, the tax does not come out of the sellers pocket or the developer’s proforma. As such, it essentially taps into Cambridge’s international appeal to raise funds to increase affordable housing.

Look into the future, and see the consequences if we continue to let #SpeculatorsWithoutBorders drive up prices and extract affordable housing opportunities:

http://bit.ly/GlobalSpecTax (share link via social networks)

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BOTTOMLINE: Add a 5th and potentially 6th bullet point to the list in the Cambridge Chronicle’s Guest Opinion?

5. Impose a buyer tax on foreign buyers, similar to Vancouver where international investors pay 15% on top of the sales price; or Singapore’s model: any investor / non-owner occupant pays a tiered buyer tax.

6. To calm the current speuclative cycle, declare a two-year moratorium on #SpeculatorsWithoutBorders, too?

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Posted in #SpeculatorsWithoutBorders, Affordable housing, Bidding wars, Consumer protection, Housing Justice, Investigative Reporting, RE2020, Real Estate Consumer Bill of Rights, RECALL: Real Estate Consumer Alliance

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