In the midst of news stories about the fear of homeownership and all the homes people are not buying comes a story about a sector that is seeing an increase in the number of home sales - community land trusts. Earlier this week, the Star Tribune ran a story about Two Rivers Community Land Trust, a non-profit organization that serves low- and moderate-income homebuyers in Washington County. In an average year, Two Rivers sells five to seven homes. This year, they are expecting to sell ten homes.
I am intrigued by the idea that community land trust home sales are increasing at a time when confidence in homeownership is wavering. Land trusts homes are a source of affordable home ownership, so maybe it should come as no surprise that people are seeking more sustainable options during bad economic times. And, the land trust organization sticks with homebuyers after the sale. This relationship may give apprehensive homebuyers some reassurance that they are not going it alone. Yet, community land trusts also a shared equity model, which limits the amount of appreciation owners get at resale. When homes are sold, the buyer and community land trust share the appreciation of the home, which allows the homes to maintain affordability over time.
I'd like to think that this increase signals a change in what we value about homeownership. A shift from thinking of it as a home rather than a short-term investment. Perhaps Cory Jelinek, the land trust owner profiled in the Star Tribune story, says it all. The best thing about owning the house is just that: It's hers.
More information about community land trusts: