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(Photo Metro Creative Services)
(Photo Metro Creative Services)

The notion is supply-and-demand simplicity itself: Massachusetts needs affordable housing, so why not build more houses?

That’s the position of the Massachusetts Association of Realtors, who visited Beacon Hill Monday in opposition to transfer tax and rent control bills.

“Rent control tries to attack a symptom of our lack of building. And that’s not the way to fix the issue. We need to build more housing,” said Justin Davidson, the association’s government affairs director, according to State House News.

“If we build enough housing, if people have the options of where to live and what type of home to live in, we don’t need rent control,” Davidson said.

That’s long been an issue in the Bay State, particularly in Greater Boston. Rents are high, home prices astronomical, and so begins the exodus to the suburbs and beyond in hopes of staying ahead of exorbitant costs. Sometimes that trek leads out of state.

Our population outpaces our housing stock, and estimates from the D.C.-based Bipartisan Policy Center reveal that the number of single-family housing permit approvals dropped by nearly half between the 2000s and the 2010s.

As Axios reported, housing stock increased during the last decade by just under 136,000, putting it behind the estimated 167,000 new households during that same period, according to data from the American Community Survey.

We want people to come to Massachusetts, to put down roots, work and thrive. That’s not an easy task if there aren’t enough homes to keep pace with newcomers. New builds in the city that “set aside” affordable units aren’t nearly enough.

And while elected officials in Boston are seeking to ease the pain by capping rent increases, that doesn’t do anything to increase the options for renters. It also doesn’t freeze the costs of upkeep and maintenance on apartment buildings which landlords would still have to cover, just with lower revenue.

The Realtors group pointed to increased state funding for rental voucher programs as a way to handle the problem without invoking rent control, and supports a tax-deductible savings program to help people bank away up to $5,000 per year to put toward their first property.

Helping people save for a home through a tax-deductible program is an enormous leg up in the process of buying a house, especially for young would-be homeowners who want to raise a family here.

The Realtors Association opposes transfer tax and rent control bills that many housing advocates are promoting as possible solutions, and Davidson also lumped the transfer tax into a category of “harmful policies.”

“You’ve worked with buyers that know that they can’t just come up with a few thousand extra dollars to close the deal,” Davidson said, adding that transfer fees are “exclusionary.”

If Massachusetts wants to be an affordable place to live and maintain and grow its population, then increasing the housing stock is vital.

If you build it, they will come – and stay.