May 13, 2024 - Real Estate

Chicago Housing Trust counters rising real estate prices

Photo of a building with cars parked out front

The Seng in Lincoln Park provides affordable housing administered by the Chicago Housing Trust. Photo: Courtesy of Structured Development

Chicago housing prices are at an all-time high, according to a new study.

The big picture: To counter the surge in prices, a little-known affordable housing trust is selling property for lower than the market average.

How it works: The Chicago Housing Trust, formerly known as the Chicago Community Land Trust, works with first-time buyers or buyers with barriers to provide an alternative route to homebuying.

The fine print: Restrictions on the property sale keep the home from being flipped or sold to buyers who don't qualify.

  • The homeowner also has their property tax assessments tied to the price of the sale, not the market value.
  • If the homeowner wants to sell before the affordable housing restrictions expire, the property is required to be sold with the same restrictions. It's unlikely people are getting rich off real estate here.
  • Buyers have to complete courses and training, plus orientation, before being accepted into the program.

What they're saying: "I think this program is great for keeping people in the neighborhoods they grew up in," Kelly Price of Wintrust Mortgage, a partner with the Chicago Housing Trust, tells Axios.

  • "It helps make sure that people aren't being priced out because of gentrification."

The intrigue: Price says last year was the biggest year for the program since she started helping with financing over a decade ago.

  • She says it's more than just helping buyers through the process, but in some cases she spends months with households getting their finances in order before applying.

The bottom line: Buying property in Chicago is an expensive proposition, but the Chicago Housing Trust is one way to level the playing field for first-time, cash-strapped buyers.

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