REALTOR® Party News Alert: Chicago Voters Reject Transfer Tax After Advocacy Blitz

REALTOR® Party News Alert: Chicago Voters Reject Transfer Tax After Advocacy Blitz

The ballots have been counted, and thanks to an uphill fight led by the Illinois REALTORS® and supported by NAR, voters soundly defeated a detrimental real estate transfer tax proposal in Chicago.

The tax hike, which was positioned as a way to address housing affordability and rising rates of homelessness, was expected to easily pass mere months ago. However, following a massive effort by REALTORS® to educate voters on how the proposal would harm those it was purported to help, Chicagoans rejected the measure in the March 19 primary election.

“This outcome demonstrates how crucial it is to communicate directly with consumers about the real-life impacts of proposed policies,” says NAR Chief Advocacy Officer Shannon McGahn. “And there’s no one better to do that than REALTORS®, who have the pulse on the needs of their communities.”

Illinois REALTORS® CEO Jeff Baker agrees: “This is not a time for celebrations. Everyone in Chicago deserves housing stability; this is what the 17,000 REALTORS® throughout Chicago advocate and work for every day. For our most vulnerable, our city needs a comprehensive strategy for funding and delivering the wraparound services that are desperately needed right now.”

The defeated proposal sought to increase the real estate transfer tax on transactions worth more than $1 million. References to the measure as a “mansion tax” were misleading at best, as most transactions above $1 million in Chicago involve commercial properties, not residential.

“When the policy was first introduced, polls showed strong support for the transfer tax. You don’t often turn the tide on numbers like that,” McGahn notes. “But REALTORS® took the issue head-on, knowing how drastically it could impede the future of housing in the city.”

With the help of NAR Issues Mobilization Grants totaling $850,000, the Illinois REALTORS® and Chicago Association of REALTORS® set out to swiftly correct the record for voters.

REALTORS® shared that the tax burden would be overwhelmingly shouldered by mom-and-pop business owners, which could force out many neighborhood retailers and prevent others from opening.

The measure would have led to higher property taxes for all Chicago homeowners. Other areas that have enacted similar policies have seen the value of commercial properties decline, with homeowners forced to pay higher property taxes to cover the widening valuation gap.

The policy would harm renters, too. As multifamily buildings become more expensive to purchase, those costs would be passed down to tenants in the form of higher rent bills.

It would also exacerbate the housing shortage when inventory is already at historic lows. With property taxes, interest rates and building costs all rising, an additional tax increase would add another expensive hurdle dissuading builders from creating more housing in Chicago.

These messages resonated among Chicago residents, as did the fact that while pushing for this tax increase on an already stressed housing market, the city had access to $37 million in unused federal funds to address homelessness.

“The vote on this referendum echoes the resounding sentiment we hear from Chicago’s homeowners, housing providers, and small businesses that we cannot continue to rely on real estate taxes to fund poorly conceived programs,” Baker says. “It’s time to come together and find real solutions that provide real housing stability to everyone in our city.”

Read more about REALTOR® advocacy successes at all levels of government at


  1. REPLY
    Janice Minton Kutz says

    Bravo/Brava on the defeat of the “new” tax. The Realtor Association came through like a champ! So did we Realtors. Le’s make it easier for consumers to be in . Their own homes whether rented or owned. The Real ESTATE Industry can do that and more for those who want/need a home to call their own. JmK CB Realty Schererville In 46375

  2. REPLY
    Libby Gerald says

    Why well educated and well intentioned people cannot understand that raising taxes on businesses does more harm than good to the underprivileged, I do not understand. A big hooray for Chicago voters!

  3. REPLY
    Rosa says

    Good job, congratulations NAR!

  4. REPLY
    AD says

    Bravo to the good people of Chicago & IL for standing up against extreme Socialism and Communism sweeping our country! ‘One small step for man…’ but a step in the right direction. Stay string for freedom.

  5. REPLY
    P Marquez says

    Awesome work! Way to go, keep up the good work 👏

  6. REPLY
    Linda Hendrix says

    Congratulations to all participating Illinois Realtors & the NAR for analyzing & scrutinizing this bogus ‘Transfer Tax’. ALL new taxes need to go through the ‘fine print’ & see exactly what is being suggested. Finding out about the untouched funds makes this even sweeter. Now, City of Chicago, use those funds on a program or project to help the homeless!!!

    • REPLY
      Anita Perez says

      Good Morning everyone congratulation and thank you all so much for standing up for us. God bless each one of you.🙏♥️ great job

  7. REPLY
    Rosa says

    We need to eliminate the mansion tax in Los Angeles too!

    • REPLY
      Patricia Moore says

      Absolutely right!!! Howard Jarvis group working on getting it appealed.

  8. REPLY
    Susan Ramsey says

    Well done Illinois Realtors!

    • REPLY
      Ron Wortham GAD says

      Another perfect example how being a Realtor protects us and our communities!

  9. REPLY
    Dennis Smith says

    Thank you NAR for being there for us again.

  10. REPLY
    Thera Buttaro says

    Yes well done realtors in Chicago. Educate and communicate. That wins.

  11. REPLY
    Sharon Stratman says

    I congratulate all the realtors that helped out on this . We should all take noticed and participate. I am a Real Estate assoc. broker at C21 Signature in Clio , Michigan

  12. REPLY
    Bev says

    Congrats on a well executed plan to stop the tax program that would have caused more harm than the average vote might not have seen without mobilizing the effort to educate voters of the pitfalls included in that program! Kiddos!

  13. REPLY
    Lucy Wheeler says

    Well done, Realtors! In Missouri we took similar action against a proposed service tax a few years back and had the same happy ending.

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