A rent-to-own agreement allows would-be home buyers to move into a house right away, with several years to work on improving their credit scores and/or saving for a down payment before trying to get a mortgage. Of course, certain terms and conditions must be met, in accordance with the rent-to-own agreement. Even if a real estate agent assists with the process, it’s essential to consult a qualified real estate attorney who can clarify the contract and your rights before you sign anything.
If you have a lease-purchase contract, you may be legally obligated to buy the property when the lease expires. This can be problematic for many reasons, especially if you aren’t able to secure a mortgage. Lease-option contracts are almost always preferable to lease-purchase contracts because they offer more flexibility and you don’t risk getting sued if you are unwilling or unable to buy the home when the lease expires.

At HousingList we believe home-ownership should be accessible to everyone. We work to spread awareness around alternative, non-traditional routes to home-ownership such as rent-to-own and HUD properties. These alternative paths to owning a home can help people who don't have enough funds saved for today's rising down-payments, people who need to improve their credit scores, or any number of factors that prevent today's buyers from the dream of homeownership.


“As home prices rise and more and more cities are priced out of conforming loan limits and pushed into jumbo loans, the problem shifts from consumers to the home finance industry,” says Scholtz. With strict automatic underwriting guidelines and 20% to 40% down-payment requirements, even financially capable people can have trouble obtaining financing in these markets.

Conversely, if you decide not to buy the house – or are unable to secure financing by the end of the lease term – the option expires and you move out of the home, just as if you were renting any other property. You’ll likely forfeit any money paid up to that point, including the option money and any rent credit earned, but you won’t be under any obligation to continue renting or to buy the home.
When the remaining mortgage balance is higher than the actual home value, the foreclosing party is unlikely to attract auction bids at this price level. A house that has gone through a foreclosure auction and failed to attract any acceptable bids may remain the property of the owner of the mortgage. That inventory is called REO (real estate owned). In these situations, the owner/servicer tries to sell it through standard real estate channels.
Chinese law and mortgage practices have progressed with safeguards to prevent foreclosures as much as possible. These include mandatory secondary security, rescission (Chinese Contract Law), and maintaining accounts at the lending bank to cover any defaults without prior notice to the borrower.[43] A mortgagee may sue on a note without foreclosing, obtain a general judgment, and collect that judgment against other property of the mortgagor, without foreclosing. When all other avenues have failed a lender may seek a judgement of foreclosure. Under the "Civil Procedure Law", foreclosures should be finalized in a six-month time frame but this is dependent on several things including if the mortgager applies to the court for execution of the judgment.[44] Mortgages are formally foreclosed at auction by a licensed auction specialist.[45]

Rent to own situations can be structured in two popular ways. One is the lease purchase. A lease purchase usually requires the tenant to commit to buy the home over an agreed to period of time. Terms can be quite flexible to suit the renter's needs. These terms include the time frame, the amount of rent applied to the rent to own purchase, and the price of the property. The second approach is called a lease option. In a lease option, many of the same terms apply as in a lease purchase. The difference is in the lease option, the tenant may not be required to purchase the home at the end of the option time period. However, in each case, the renter usually needs to put up a non-refundable option fee to initiate the rent to own contract.

There is an alternative, however: a rent-to-own agreement, in which you rent a home for a certain amount of time, with the option to buy it before the lease expires. Rent-to-own agreements consist of two parts: a standard lease agreement and an option to buy. Here’s a rundown of what to watch for and how the rent-to-own process works. It's more complicated than renting and you'll need to take extra precautions to protect your interests. Doing so will help you figure out whether the deal is a good choice if you're looking to buy a home.


In other words, to challenge an allegedly wrongful foreclosure, the borrower must make legal tender of the entire remaining balance of the debt prior to the foreclosure sale. California has one of the strictest forms of this rule, in that the funds must be received by the lender before the sale. One tender attempt was held inadequate when the check arrived via FedEx on a Monday, three days after the foreclosure sale had already occurred on Friday.[20]
In response, a slight majority of U.S. states have adopted nonjudicial foreclosure procedures in which the mortgagee (or more commonly the mortgagee's servicer's attorney, designated agent, or trustee) gives the debtor a notice of default (NOD) and the mortgagee's intent to sell the real property in a form prescribed by state statute; the NOD in some states must also be recorded against the property. This type of foreclosure is commonly called "statutory" or "nonjudicial" foreclosure, as opposed to "judicial", because the mortgagee does not need to file an actual lawsuit to initiate the foreclosure. A few states impose additional procedural requirements such as having documents stamped by a court clerk; Colorado requires the use of a county "public trustee," a government official, rather than a private trustee specializing in carrying out foreclosures. However, in most states, the only government official involved in a nonjudicial foreclosure is the county recorder, who merely records any pre-sale notices and the trustee's deed upon sale.
When the remaining mortgage balance is higher than the actual home value, the foreclosing party is unlikely to attract auction bids at this price level. A house that has gone through a foreclosure auction and failed to attract any acceptable bids may remain the property of the owner of the mortgage. That inventory is called REO (real estate owned). In these situations, the owner/servicer tries to sell it through standard real estate channels.
A dual-tracking process appeared to be in use by many lenders, however, where the lender would simultaneously talk to the borrower about a "loan modification", but also move ahead with a foreclosure sale of the borrower's property. Borrowers were heard to complain that they were misled by these practices and would often be "surprised" that their home had been sold at foreclosure auction, as they believed they were in a "loan modification process". California has enacted legislation to eliminate this type of "dual-tracking" - The Homeowner Bill of Rights - AB 278, SB 900, That went into effect on January 1, 2013.[27]

Recent housing studies indicate that minority households disproportionately experience foreclosures. Other overly represented groups include African Americans, renter households, households with children, and foreign-born homeowners. For example, statistics show that African American buyers are 3.3 times more likely than white buyers to be in foreclosure, while Latino and Asian buyers are 2.5 and 1.6 times more likely, respectively. As another statistical example, over 60 per cent of the foreclosures that occurred in New York City in 2007 involved rental properties. Twenty percent of the foreclosures nationwide were from rental properties. One reason for this is that the majority of these people have borrowed with risky subprime loans. There is a major lack of research done in this area posing problems for three reasons. One, not being able to describe who experiences foreclosure makes it challenging to develop policies and programs that can prevent/reduce this trend for the future. Second, researchers cannot tell the extent to which recent foreclosures have reversed the advances in homeownership that some groups, historically lacking equal access, have made. Third, research is focused too much on community-level effects even though it is the individual households that are most strongly affected.[29] Many people cite their own or their family members medical conditions as the primary reason for undergoing a foreclosure. Many do not have health insurance and are unable to adequately provide for their medical needs. This again points to the fact that foreclosures affects already vulnerable populations.[30] Credit scores are greatly impacted after a foreclosure. The average number of points reduced when you are 30 days late on your mortgage payment is 40 - 110 points, 90 days late is 70 - 135 points, and a finalized foreclosure, short sale or deed-in-lieu is 85 - 160 points.[31]

In a rent-to-own agreement, you (as the buyer) pay the seller a one-time, usually nonrefundable, upfront fee called the option fee, option money or option consideration. This fee is what gives you the option to buy the house by some date in the future. The option fee is often negotiable, as there’s no standard rate. Still, the fee typically ranges between 2.5% and 7% of the purchase price.

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