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Cityscape: Volume 22 Number 1 | Housing Tenure and Financial Security


The goal of Cityscape is to bring high-quality original research on housing and community development issues to scholars, government officials, and practitioners. Cityscape is open to all relevant disciplines, including architecture, consumer research, demography, economics, engineering, ethnography, finance, geography, law, planning, political science, public policy, regional science, sociology, statistics, and urban studies.

Cityscape is published three times a year by the Office of Policy Development and Research (PD&R) of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Housing Tenure and Financial Security

Volume 22 Number 1

Mark D. Shroder

Michelle P. Matuga

The American Dream or Just an Illusion? Understanding Land Contract Trends in the Midwest Pre- and Post-Crisis

Ann Carpenter
Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta

Taz George
Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago

Lisa Nelson
Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland

The views expressed in this work are not necessarily those of the Federal Reserve Banks of Atlanta, Chicago, or Cleveland, or of the Federal Reserve System.

This paper examines contract for deed activity across six Midwestern states to improve our understanding of this market and the places in which this activity occurs. Using contract for deed transaction data from ATTOM Data Solutions and block group level data from the U.S. Census, we examine neighborhood characteristics where contract for deed activity is prevalent and assess the differences between contract for deed sales and mortgaged sales on select transaction characteristics. We find contracts for deed tend to be more concentrated in neighborhoods with lower incomes, higher shares of non-White residents, higher rates of vacancy, and less access to traditional mortgage credit. When compared with mortgaged sales, contracts for deed are more likely to be entirely financed and have sales prices that fall below mortgaged sale prices. The strongest findings from this analysis indicate that contract for deed activity varies greatly by area and tends to concentrate in communities with weak housing market indicators.

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