Communities of Mexican Americans in the Southwest, known as colonias, have provided many low-income buyers with affordable opportunities. Affordability, however, comes at a high price for the colonias residents. Most of the buyers live in colonias pursuant to installment land contracts, devices which allow buyers to spread the purchase price of property over a number of years but leave them without legal title or equity under New Mexico law. The buyers sacrifice their legal rights to "own" small, unimproved lots of land in developments that are often without electricity, gas, a sewage system, and indoor plumbing. The author argues that New Mexico could allocate rights to buyers under installment land contracts while maintaining the reasonable cost of colonias housing and preserving the communities. She posits several alternatives for the state legislature and judiciary, including the adoption of a statutory definition which treats the contracts as mortgages and a more flexible interpretation of the forfeiture clauses in the contracts pursuant to mortgage and contract law. The Note concludes with suggested outreach strategies to inform colonias residents of their rights under installment land contracts and to provide them with legal assistance to enforce their rights.
Elizabeth M. Provencio,
Moving from Colonias to Comunidades: A Proposal for New Mexico to Revisit the Installment Land Contract Debate,
Mich. J. Race & L.
Available at: https://repository.law.umich.edu/mjrl/vol3/iss1/6