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.
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.
The mortgagor may be required to pay for Private Mortgage Insurance, or PMI, for as long as the principal of his or her primary mortgage is above 80% of the value of his or her property. In most situations, insurance requirements guarantee that the lender gets back some pre-defined proportion of the loan value, either from foreclosure auction proceeds or from PMI or a combination of those.
In the wake of the United States housing bubble and the subsequent subprime mortgage crisis there has been increased interest in renegotiation or modification of the mortgage loans rather than foreclosure, and some commentators have speculated that the crisis was exacerbated by the "unwillingness of lenders to renegotiate mortgages".[25] Several policies, including the U.S. Treasury sponsored Hope Now initiative and the 2009 "Making Home Affordable" plan have offered incentives to renegotiate mortgages. Renegotiations can include lowering the principal due or temporarily reducing the interest rate. A 2009 study by Federal Reserve economists found that even using a broad definition of renegotiation, only 3% of "seriously delinquent borrowers" received a modification. The leading theory attributes the lack of renegotiation to securitization and a large number of claimants with security interest in the mortgage. There is some support behind this theory, but an analysis of the data found that renegotiation rates were similar among unsecuritized and securitized mortgages. The authors of the analysis argue that banks don't typically renegotiate because they expect to make more money with a foreclosure, as renegotiation imposes "self-cure" and "redefault" risks.[25] Government supported programs such as Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) may provide homeowners the ability to refinance their mortgages if they are unable to obtain a traditional refinance due to their declined home value.[26]
Rent-to-own homes will typically cost a bit more than the fair market value of other home rentals in the area. That’s because a portion of the monthly rent-to-own payment will be designated as a “rent credit” -- up to 20 percent of the monthly amount due -- will go toward the purchase of the home when the agreed-upon term expires. It’s important to make these monthly rent-to-own payments on time and as scheduled.
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