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Protecting Homebuyers in Low‐Income Communities: Evaluating the Success of Texas Legislative Reforms in the Informal Homeownership Market

  • Peter M. Ward, Heather K. Way and Lucille Wood

Abstract

Among low‐income homebuyers, a contract for deed (CFD) has been a widely used but risky and informal mechanism for purchasing a home or lot. This article examines a series of major consumer protections adopted by the Texas Legislature from 1995 to 2005 and whether this legislation shaped the behavior of sellers who historically relied on CFDs in Texas colonias. Tracking changes in the use of CFDs between 1990 and 2010, we show that developers responded to the legislative reforms by shifting away from CFDs and into other forms of seller financing. At the same time, developers have adopted a series of workarounds to the legislation (presumably legal), leaving low‐income buyers vulnerable to rapid repossession by the developer. In contrast, the impact of the legislation on low‐income residents selling their homes has been minimal. These consumer‐to‐consumer transactions remain highly informal, with ongoing reliance on the now illegal, unrecorded CFD.

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