Landless Gentry

New homes on rented property

Inflated real estate prices and mortgage rates averaging 16½% have denied hundreds of thousands of Americans the chance to buy their own homes. But some of them may now benefit from the rediscovery of a cost-cutting device that dates back to colonial days: land lease. Rather than buying a house with a modest plot of property, they are purchasing just the house and leasing the ground underneath it.

For buyers, land leasing can reduce the down payment on a house and thus make a purchase possible. In the Woodward Co.'s...

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