For almost a decade, William Whichard lived in what was, for him, the perfect home in the perfect College Park, Maryland, neighborhood.
“And I wanted to stay,” he said. “The neighborhood suits me, really, from day one. The first night I sat out here in the evening and appreciated the quiet.”
Over the last year or so he tried to figure out how to buy that home — not looking anywhere else.
But with housing costing what it does, finding a way to afford it was a different story. Then he and Sean Murphy, his longtime friend who used to own the home, heard about the Community Preservation Trust, a program within the College Park City-University Partnership.
“We buy homes at market price and then we sell them,” explained Daniel Cunningham, the executive director of the trust. “Through a shared equity arrangement we sell them at a discount to the owner. The Trust retains the land and the owners buys the home, which means their dollar goes farther and we can increase the pool of homeowners in the city of College Park.”
It’s a land trust program that’s not too common in College Park, though it is in other parts of the state.
“It means that as an affordable housing land trust, we have an opportunity for a 99-year affordable land trust agreement, which means that we have a right of first refusal to purchase it from them,” said Cunningham. “Then we have a shared equity arrangement so that they get the upside, but they’re also willing to pay some of it forward to the next homeowner who will also be an affordable homeowner.”
“My foundation supports these types of things, so for me it just fit directly in with my values and what I’ve been up to for the last six or seven years,” said Murphy. “This type of program is absolutely perfect.”
He said the only difference between selling a home to the Trust and selling it to a more traditional owner was the time it took to close, since this was the first home bought by the Trust. Since then, two other homes have also been purchased and the Community Preservation Trust is actively looking for buyers who qualify.
“The College Park Community Preservation Trust is a $15 million effort to secure affordable homeownership opportunities here in the city,” said Susan Hartman, the executive director of the Partnership.
“By facilitating homeownership opportunities here we’re really supporting the economic mobility of families to be able to move forward financially, not just now, but even inter-generationally, passing that on to their children or the assets they’re able to save over time through homeownership.”