After decades of successful local experiments, shared equity homeownership is growing in popularity and beginning to play a more prominent role in housing policy nationwide. The increased interest in this innovation stems from the claim that shared equity homeownership programs can preserve public investment in affordable homeownership while at the same time offering a predictable path to significant economic opportunity to today’s homeowners.
However, to date, very little objective data has been compiled to support these claims. The only systematic performance evaluation was a resale study of 97 limited-equity houses and condominiums that was done by the Champlain Housing Trust (formerly the Burlington Community Land Trust) in 2003. The study, which has been widely cited, found that fully 70 percent of Burlington’s shared equity homeowners were able to move into market rate homeownership, thanks in part to the limited equity that they built in their land trust homes. At the same time, these homes were resold at prices that were affordable to buyers with even lower annual incomes. But, as encouraging as these results are, we do not know how representative they are of this new type of housing tenure. Can other communities expect this kind of outcome or is Burlington somehow unique?
NCB Capital Impact has launched a multifaceted effort to build the broad support necessary for shared equity homeownership grow to a far more significant scale. If this initiative is to be successful we must produce credible research showing the benefits of SEH to individual families and to their communities. In particular, broad public acceptance of SEH will require better evidence to support the claim that homeowners in a wide range of communities can expect significant wealth creation in spite of resale price restrictions.
The research project is being undertaken by a team from the Urban Institute led by Ken Temkin. They are currently collecting data from 8 established shared equity homeownership programs. Their findings shoud be available in mid 2010.