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Land Contracts

In the wake of the Great Recession, land contracts have reemerged in Detroit and across the country as a prominent alternative pathway to homeownership for households with limited access to capital and lending.

Much of the research on land contracts finds them to be exploitative. However, mission-driven organizations in Southeast Michigan have used supportive land contracts to enable homeownership for credit-constrained households.

Poverty Solutions and its partners have explored supportive land contracts as a path to homeownership and the policies needed to reduce abuse of predatory land contracts.

Detroit Land Contract Buyer Guide

The Detroit Land Contract Buyer Guide offers step-by-step guidance for housing counselors and prospective and current buyers on how to connect with resources, identify predatory or fraudulent situations, and successfully purchase their home. Land contracts are a valuable tool to achieve homeownership, but buyers often lack the support they need to navigate the purchasing process successfully.

The City of Detroit, Enterprise Community Partners, and Poverty Solutions co-authored and published the buyer guide in June 2022. The guide includes information, do-it-yourself checklists, and guidance on risks for before signing, at signing, after signing, and after paying the land contract in full. The guide and additional resources, including materials in Spanish, are available at

>Read the press release

Valuing Homes in Black Communities

Poverty Solutions and Enterprise Community Partners received a $100,000 innovation grant for their research on supportive land contracts in Detroit from the Valuing Homes in Black Communities challenge from Brookings and Ashoka. Their findings directly informed legislation on regulating the use of land contracts currently being considered in Michigan and Maryland.

> Read an article about their research for the challenge

In Good Faith: Reimagining the Use of Land Contracts

Drawing from an extensive literature review and qualitative data collected through interviews and survey researa group of people collaborating around posterboardch, a Poverty Solutions policy brief published in June 2021 seeks to learn from the community development sector’s experience to identify best practices, interventions, and key common-sense reforms that would make land contracts a safer and more effective homeownership tool. In July 2021, Poverty Solutions hosted a community experts working group in Detroit to share findings from the policy brief and discuss how land contracts can both help and hinder affordable homeownership in Detroit.

> Read an op-ed by the policy brief authors


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