Advantages of Home Ownership

Excellent pricing

Our home prices are affordable because you lease the land instead of buying it. And if needed, our low- to moderate-income families are also able to obtain subsidies to help them afford one of our homes. Subsidies are based on individual need and can be as high as $50,000.

Great location

Sawmill Community Land Trust’s Arbolera de Vida development is located in the historic section of the North Valley, near Old Town, downtown and established neighborhoods. Living on the land trust gives you a chance to live economically in an area where the property values are generally going up. Our homes are convenient to parks, museums, Old Town, downtown civic activities, shopping and schools. Easy access to I-40.

Quality construction

All Sawmill Community Land Trust homes are solid, energy-efficient construction that includes 2”x6” exterior wall construction and Energy Star appliances.

Being part of a community

When you live on Sawmill Community Land Trust, you are part of a community that promotes safety and crime prevention. Community design encourages walking and easy interaction with your neighbors. Residents are a mix of ages, family sizes and incomes. Residents have a vote in the current and future development of the land trust.

Pride of ownership

You and your neighbors have the incentive to make your homes as attractive, comfortable, and suitable to your needs as possible because you own it. This is your home.

Purchasing a Home on Sawmill Community Land Trust

Purchasing a home on a community land trust is different than a traditional mortgage. On a community land trust, the buyer purchases only the improvements on the land (aka the home) rather than the home and property under traditional circumstances. Homeowners agree to a 99-year renewable land lease (more information provided on the land lease, below). By purchasing only the improvements, costs are lower on the purchase.

Homeownership Program Guidelines

In order to become a homeowner on Sawmill Community Land Trust, you must have an income that is sufficient to support the cost of obtaining and paying a mortgage. This amount varies depending on mortgage financing terms, which change from time to time, and the current costs of our homes. We will determine at the Pre-Qualification meeting if your income is sufficient (more information on this meeting follows).

If your income is not sufficient, you will need to have cash for a significant down payment in order to bring down the amount of the mortgage (some of this could be a gift from another person).

Sawmill Community Land Trust creates homes for households in two income groups….

1. Subsidized:
What is subsidy? Monetary assistance to help bring down the overall cost of purchasing a home. Households earning 80%, or less, of Albuquerque’s Area Median Income (see income guidelines chart below) are the primary focus of our housing development. These income-qualified households are generally eligible for subsidies and other available homebuyer assistance programs. Asset Guideline: For subsidized buyers, liquid assets cannot exceed $15,000.

2.Market Rate:
Households earning above 80% of Albuquerque’s Area Median Income (see chart below) may also purchase a home on the land trust. Although fewer of these units are available and buyers are not eligible for subsidies, buyers of these homes do not have to be a First Time Homebuyer. Even though our homes for this group are not subsidized, they are still relatively lower in cost than homes sold on the open market. Contact SCLT’s homebuyer Counselor to learn more about “Market Rate” purchase program.

2020 Income Thresholds for Albuquerque
Determined by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development
Household Size 80% Area Medium Income
1 Member $38,750
2 Members $44,250
3 Members $49,800
4 Members $55,300
5 Members $59,750
6 Members $64,150
7 Members $68,600
8 Members $73,000

To Qualify for a Subsidized Home:

You must:

- Fall within the income guidelines outlined above.

- Be a first time homebuyer OR have not owned a home within the last 3 years.

- Have good or repairable credit with a minimal monthly debt obligation.

- Have stable employment (at least two years continuous employment).

- Have cash for closing costs and down payment (we may be able to help you access programs that can lower these costs).

The Homebuying Process at Sawmill Community Land Trust

1. Complete an Intake Form and return it with your cash, check or money order for your Credit Report Fee. (Credit Report Fee is $20/single person; $25/married couple.) This information gives us a general idea of your background, qualifications and interests.

2. Attend a Sawmill Community Land Trust Orientation. This class gives prospective buyers an overview of the SCLT Land Trust. It is very informative, giving you a general overview of SCLT’s history and the community land trust model which is used to preserve permanent affordability of the homes sold. Attending an orientation is mandatory if you purchase a home on Sawmill Community Land Trust. An RSVP and a refundable reservation deposit of $20 is required, upon completion of the orientation your deposit will be fully refunded.

3. Schedule Pre-qualification Meeting. At this meeting, you and the SCLT Homebuyer Counselor will review your credit report, pay stubs, income tax returns, bank statements, etc., to pre-qualify you for our program. For each member of your household 18 years or older, you will need to provide the following items at the time you meet with the Homebuyer Counselor at your Pre-Qualification Meeting:

- Complete Income Tax Returns including W2’s for the past three (3) consecutive years. If you did not file a tax return for any of those three years you will need to obtain a transcript from the IRS ( and a written statement as to why taxes were not filed.

- Three (3) consecutive months of paycheck stubs

- Self employed clients will need to provide their most recent Profit and Loss Statement

- Six (6) months of your most recent bank statements for all bank accounts (all pages of the actual statements are required; no computer printouts unless it is a printout of the actual statement)

- Assets: documentation of cash and/or assets that can be easily liquidated without penalty.

- (If Applicable) Copy of Bankruptcy documents

- (If Applicable) Copy of three (3) consecutive disability or social security award letters

- (If Applicable) Copy of Social Security, Retirement or Disability award letters

- (If Applicable) Copy of Resident Alien Card

- (If Applicable) Copy of Divorce Decree and settlement agreements including

- Identification: Government Photo ID and Social Security Card

If the pre-qualification meeting reveals areas of concern, credit problems, insufficient money for down payment, etc:


If the Pre-qualification meeting is favorable:

You will then go to a mortgage lender to establish your mortgage eligibility.
SCLT, Lender and Buyer work together to get the loan approved.

SCLT will work with you at no charge to create a plan of action to become ready to purchase a home.

4. Get approval from a lender. This entails going to an approved lender and working with them to determine the amount for which you are mortgage eligible.
If you are receiving a subsidy, the source agency (typically the City of Albuquerque) will have to approve conditions of the loan.

5. Once you are mortgage eligible, you can select a home that best suits your needs. Home selection is based on:
- The date of your intake form
- The date of your pre-qualification from a lender
- Matching your mortgage amount and available subsidies to the sales price of the home
- Availability

6. Attend a HUD-certified Home Buying Class. Sawmill Community Land Trust offers these on a regular (typically, monthly) basis.

7. If you will be utilizing City of Albuquerque subsidy funds to purchase a home on the land trust, you will meet representatives from the City’s Families and Community Services Division. The Lender and the City of Albuquerque will work together to get your loan and subsidy request approved.

8. Final Walk-Through. If the home is new construction the contractor will go over the One Year Warranty contract with you. This is usually done at least 1 day

9. Closing takes place at a Title Company. The home title is transferred to you at this last juncture of the home buying process. CONGRATULATIONS! You are a homeowner!

Rights, Roles and Responsibilities of Homeowners on Sawmill Community Land Trust

Sawmill Community Land Trust organization has a responsibility to provide long-term affordable housing opportunities and we will work with you to keep that vision alive for future generations.

As a homeowner on the land trust, your responsibilities include:

- Voting, if you like, as a member of the Sawmill Community Land Trust and Arbolera de Vida Homeowners Association
- Participating in SCLT activities that interest you

- Enjoying the privileges of using the land under which your home is built

- Understanding the land lease

- Understanding the resale formula (this formula allows our homes to be permanently affordable.)

- Pay Property Owner Association (POA) and Land Lease Fees

POA and Land Lease Fees:

These fees are part of your housing costs and are figured into your housing ratios when you qualify for a mortgage. You are obligated to pay these fees on a monthly basis. Not paying them it could be grounds for foreclosure.

Currently, homeowners pay a $50/mo. fee that is broken down as follows:

- $19 - to Sawmill Community Land Trust to help run its operation, pay for supplies, utilities and, if necessary, pay property taxes on the land.

- $31 - to the Arbolera de Vida Property Homeowner’s Association. This money goes to pay for the maintenance of the plaza and all of the common areas. It pays for the water, lights, and the upkeep and maintenance of the grounds and helps finance some community activities for the residents.