As the end of the rent-to-own contract nears, it’s a smart idea to address any minor problems that the home inspection turned up. It’s also a good idea to make small cosmetic improvements and upgrades as needed, if possible, to help increase the value of the home prior to applying for a mortgage loan. It’s called sweat equity … and it can make a big difference when it’s time to negotiate favorable mortgage loan terms.
This will ensure that you are not getting into a contract to purchase a home that you can’t afford. It’s important to give yourself a decent head start on the mortgage loan application process to see where you stand, as well as give yourself time to repair and/or fix any credit-related issues that might prevent you from obtaining a home loan. That’s because you need to be ready with an approved mortgage loan on the date specified in the rent-to-own contract.
Both mortgage (re)possession and foreclosure are quite similar, with the main differences being the treatment of any funds that exceed the amount borrowed and liability for any shortfall. In the case of mortgage possession or repossession, if the home is sold or auctioned for a price that exceeds the loan balance, those funds are returned to the consumer. If the proceeds from a mortgage possession are insufficient to cover the loan then the debtor remains liable for the balance, although in most cases this will become an unsecured debt and the mortgage company will be treated on an equitable basis with the debtor's other unsecured creditors (particularly if the debtor simultaneously or subsequently becomes bankrupt or enters into a voluntary arrangement with creditors). By contrast, in the case of foreclosure the mortgage company retains all rights to proceeds from a sale or auction but the debtor is not liable for any shortfall.
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]


^ Associated Press. "Sharp Rise in Foreclosures as Banks Move in - Business - Real Estate – Msnbc.com." Msnbc.com - Breaking News, Science and Tech News, World News, US News, Local News- Msnbc.com. NBC News, 13 October 2011. Web. 4 December 2011."Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-12-03. Retrieved 2011-12-06. nbc news, business-real estate; Reviewed 3013-07-20
Another drawback could be liens recorded against the property that will become your problem after title transfer. Some investors who buy at trustee sales pay for a title search in advance to avoid this problem. These guys who show up to bid on the courthouse steps are professionals, and they buy foreclosures at auction as a business. They hope to buy the foreclosure at a low price to make a nice profit when they later flip the home. You do not need to hire a real estate agent to buy a foreclosure at the auction, but you do need to know what you are doing to compete with the pros.
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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