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Be sure that maintenance and repair requirements are clearly stated in the contract (ask your attorney to explain your responsibilities). Maintaining the property – e.g., mowing the lawn, raking the leaves and cleaning out the gutters – is very different from replacing a damaged roof or bringing the electric up to code. Whether you’ll be responsible for everything or just mowing the lawn, have the home inspected, order an appraisal and make sure the property taxes are up to date before signing anything.
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.
A foreclosure, as in the actual act of a lender seizing a property, is typically the final step after a lengthy pre-foreclosure process, which can include several alternatives to foreclosure including many that can mediate a foreclosure's negative consequences for both the buyer and the seller. As with foreclosures, states have their own laws to handle this process.

Once you fully understand all the terms of the rent-to-own agreement -- and have had an attorney look it over and provide feedback -- it’s time to finalize the deal. Of course, signatures from both parties will be required at this time, as well as upfront payments such as the agreed-upon “option fee,” the monetary consideration that is necessary to make the rent-to-own contract binding.
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