Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Why would I want to buy a home through the Land Trust?
A: Most people choose to purchase a home through the Land Trust in order to benefit from the down payment grant available through the HOMELAND Program. In many cases, the Land Trust option makes homeownership possible for families who otherwise wouldn't be able to afford to buy a home. Other buyers find that the program allows them to reduce their mortgage payments or to purchase a house that fits their family's needs better than one they could buy without the help of the Land Trust. Owning a Land Trust home limits your ability to benefit from price increases in the real estate market, since part of the agreement is that you will sell your home at a price that keeps the home affordable to future owners. However, unlike renting, owning through the Land Trust offers you a chance to build equity and receive a reasonable return on your investment. Moreover, appreciation given up at resale is offset by the equity gained in grants at the time of purchase.
Other benefits of buying through a Land Trust include: a special VHFA interest rate available only to Land Trust first-time homebuyers, lower interest paid over the life of your loan because you don't have to borrow the grant money, reduced private mortgage insurance payments, and the opportunity to make a significant contribution to you community as a Land Trust homeowner. Call ACCT for more information on these and other benefits.
Q: Where does the grant money come from?
A: The grant money is made available through the HOMELAND Program, which is administered by the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board (VHCB). The program has been in existence since the early 1990's and has helped over 400 families purchase homes throughout the state. VHCB's funding comes from the real estate transfer tax (collected every time a property changes hands) and from other state, federal, and foundation funds.
Q: If I own a Land Trust home, can I have a roommate, or sublet the house to renters?
A:The overriding purpose of our program is to facilitate homeownership for moderate- and low-income households. As a Land Trust homeowner, you agree to use the home as your primary residence for as long as you own the home, and you or an immediate family member must live in the home for at least 9 months out of every year. Exceptions can be made for extenuating circumstances. You may have roomates as long as you are also living in the house.
Q: What role does the Land Trust play once I've bought my house?
A: Homeowners are considered members of the Land Trust for as long as they own their home, and are invited to participate in its governance and decision-making. The Land Trust is available as a resource for homeowners, and may offer post-purchase workshops, low-interest rehab loans, or budgeting assistance. If you find that you cannot pay your mortgage or taxes call ACCT.
As a Land Trust homeowner you are entitled to the "quiet enjoyment" of your home. Although the Land Trust may need to contact you occassionaly regarding your homeownership, they may not intrude unnecessarily on your daily life. ACCT does, however, collect a $25 per month stewardship fee from homeowners to cover the costs of maintaining the program.
Q: What if I want to make improvements to my Land Trust home?
A: If you make improvements that increase the value of your home, when you sell the home you will get back $100 of the value that you have added to your home by doing the work (as determined by a third party appraiser), as long as you follow the procedure laid out in your legal documents and inform ACCT before you do the work. Any improvements on the home involving more than $2,000 must be cleared first with ACCT. Since the home price needs to stay affordable for subsequent buyers, there is an upper limit to the amount of credit you can get, but most homeowners can make significant improvements without reaching the limit.