Lesson from Ten Years of Lease to Purchase

By Bill Goldsmith & Cindy Holler

A recent news article delineated the factors causing the housing markets in cities like Chicago to continue their decline including the flood of foreclosures, lack of end-financing loans and the rise of unemployment, all of which is leading to supply of single-family housing in excess of homebuyer demand. Several NSP grantees nationwide have begun to explore using lease to purchase and scattered site rental as means to expand the market for this single-family inventory. This is an important step because as long as the supply-demand balance leans toward oversupply, local property values will continue to decline, existing homeowner equity will erode, property tax revenues will dwindle, and the local economy will remain stuck.

Knowing that the City of Chicago is also beginning to explore using alternative single-family tenure models, Cindy Holler and I, who during the 1990s ran one of the nation’s largest lease to purchase programs , decided to share a few of our lessons from that experience.

From 1989 to 2000, I had the honor of serving as the Executive Director of New Cities CDC in south Cook County. Cindy Holler joined New Cities in 1991 as the Director of Real Estate Development. New Cities was a partner with the South Suburban Action Conference (SSAC), was closely aligned with the National Training and Information Center (NTIC) and work closely with NHS of Chicago on several HOPE III initiatives.

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