An installment land contract is a fairly simple conveyancing device, somewhat analogous to a conditional sales contract for personal property and is the most commonly used substitute for the purchase money mortgage or deed of trust. The vendor agrees to convey the described premises upon payment by the purchaser of a specified purchase price and upon performance of any other obligations outlined in the contract. The down payment is generally minimal, with the balance of the purchase price to be paid in installments at regular intervals over an extended period. Like a mortgage, installments are applied to principal and interest and the debt may extend over relatively short periods or for periods exceeding twenty years. Commonly, the vendor retains legal title until the final payment is made, at which time the deed is delivered to the purchaser, sometimes under an escrow arrangement made simultaneously with the installment contract. Some land sale contracts call for a deed to the purchaser after a certain percentage of the purchase price has been paid, at which time the purchaser delivers to the vendor a purchase money mortgage or deed of trust to secure payment of the balance. The purchaser usually takes possession at the time the installment contract is executed and assumes responsibility for taxes and upkeep of the property.
James W. Narron, Installment Land Contracts in North Carolina, 3 Campbell L. Rev. 29 (1981).