Almost 75 percent of voters approved Measure 2, which amended the state constitution to prohibit the state and any political subdivision from imposing mortgage, sales or transfer taxes on the mortgage or transfer of real property.
The National Conference of State Legislatures observes that 37 states (North Dakota previously represented the 38th state) and the District of Columbia have such a tax. The monies can be used for specific purposes, like affordable housing and open space development.
It is possible that Measure 2 sailed through so easily because of the growth in the state’s oil industry. The New York Times recently reported that “North Dakota has shed its identity as an agricultural state in decline to become an oil powerhouse second only to Texas…given the state’s history of population loss and economic decline,” officials are delighted to exploit the untapped potential “deep underneath the sweeping prairies and rugged badlands of western North Dakota.”
Last year, the Financial Times (FT) noticed that North Dakota’s housing was not keeping up with the oil boom, which the FT equated to California’s gold rush of the 1800s. The FT acknowledged that the resulting 80 percent increase in population since 2010 created a housing shortage and housing price surges of up to 30 percent. The article notes that new housing inventory has alleviated some pressure, but not enough.