High-cost markets are not the obvious place you'll find rent-to-own properties, which is what makes Verbhouse unusual. But all potential rent-to-own home buyers would benefit from trying to write its consumer-centric features into rent-to-own contracts: The option fee and a portion of each rent payment buy down the purchase price dollar-for-dollar, the rent and purchase price are locked in for up to five years, and participants can build equity and capture market appreciation, even if they decide not to buy. According to Scholtz, participants can “cash out” at the fair market value: Verbhouse sells the home and the participant keeps the market appreciation plus any equity they’ve accumulated through rent “buy-down” payments.
A further rationale is that under the principle of freedom of contract, if debtors wish to enjoy the additional protection of the formalities of judicial foreclosure, it is their burden to find a lender willing to provide a loan secured by a traditional conventional mortgage instead of a deed of trust with a power of sale. Courts have also rejected as frivolous the argument that the mere legislative act of authorizing or regulating the nonjudicial foreclosure process thereby transforms the process itself into state action.
A 2011 research paper by the Federal Reserve Board, “The Post-Foreclosure Experience of U.S. Households,” used credit reports from more than 37 million individuals between 1999 and 2010 to measure post-foreclosure behavior, especially in regard to future borrowing and housing consumption. The study found that: 1) On average 23% of people experiencing foreclosure had moved within a year of the foreclosure process starting. In the same time, a control group (not facing foreclosure) had only a 12% migration rate; 2) Only 30% of post-foreclosure borrowers moved to neighborhoods with median income at least 25% lower than their previous neighborhood; 3) The majority of post-foreclosure migrants do not end up in substantially less-desirable neighborhoods or more crowded living conditions; 4) There was no significant difference in household size between the post-foreclosure and control groups. However, only 17% of the post-foreclosure individuals had the same number and composition of household members after a foreclosure than before. By comparison, the control group maintained the same household companions in 46% of cases; and, 5) Only about 20% of post-foreclosure individuals chose to live in households where one person maintained a mortgage. Overall, the authors conclude that it is “difficult to say whether this small effect is because the shock that leads to foreclosure is not long-lasting, because the credit constraints imposed by having a foreclosure on one’s credit report are not large, or because housing services are more inelastic than other forms of consumption."
Historically, the vast majority of judicial foreclosures have been unopposed, since most defaulting borrowers have no money to hire counsel. Therefore, the U.S. financial services industry has lobbied since the mid-19th century for faster foreclosure procedures that would not clog up state courts with uncontested cases, and would lower the cost of credit (because it must always have the cost of recovering collateral built-in). Lenders have also argued that taking foreclosures out of the courts is actually kinder and less traumatic to defaulting borrowers, as it avoids the in terrorem effects of being sued.
It’s normally not necessary to commission a home inspection on a traditional home rental, but remember that rent-to-own is not a traditional home rental. This is a short- and long-term investment that requires the utmost attention to detail. And the small upfront cost of a home inspection could save you literally thousands down the road. Therefore, hire an independent home inspection professional to uncover any problems the house may potentially have. It’s important to do this even if the current homeowner furnishes a disclosure statement that attests to the condition of the home. If the independent home inspector points out problems, it’s important to determine whether or not the issues will prevent you from getting a future home loan once the rent-to-own term ends. Therefore, make sure the contract specifies who is responsible for making the necessary repairs discovered during the inspection prior to finalizing the rent-to-own agreement. The homeowner might offer a credit off the final purchase price at the end of the rent-to-own in lieu of payment for damages. Either way, be sure to get everything in writing before finalizing a rent-to-own contract.