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Christie's desire to eliminate realty transfer fees is applauded by industry

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Governor Chris Christie gets bridge scandal questions at Flemington town hall.
Governor Chris Christie gets bridge scandal questions at Flemington town hall. - (Governor's Office / Tim Larsen)

Gov. Chris Christie wants to abolish the realty transfer fees in New Jersey — a town hall announcement which was immediately endorsed by the New Jersey Association of Realtors and, really, anyone planning on selling their house anytime soon.

The fee, which was implemented during the housing boom in 2002 and 2005, puts a tax on anyone moving out of the state.

The tax, based on the sale price of the house, is roughly $1,700 on a home sold for $300,000 (the median sale price in the state in March).

Click here to use the NJAR realty transfer fee calculator.

"A realty transfer fee? From my perspective, it makes no sense," Christie said at a town hall meeting Tuesday in Franklin Township. "It's awful. It should be done away with."

Jarrod C. Grasso, the chief executive of the NJAR, agrees.

"NJAR commends Gov. Christie for his position of making realty transfer fees a thing of the past in New Jersey," he said in a statement. "We look forward to working with the governor and our state's legislators to repeal the realty transfer fee and helping New Jersey's homeowners."

There's just one problem. The tax raises a lot of money for the state - a projected total of $287 million this year and budgeted for $325 next year. And it all comes from people leaving the state.

Christie doesn't care.

"People are leaving, and then the great gift that Gov. McGreevey and the state Legislature gave was, 'Oh yeah, you're going to leave us? We'll take 5,400 bucks from you on the way out the door. Thank you very much,'" Christie said. "It makes no sense."

The NJAR contends the move would help as it would encourage the buying and selling of the real estate market and thus stimulate growth in other areas.

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