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 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."[28]
If a property fails to sell at a foreclosure auction or if it otherwise never went through one, lenders — often banks — typically take ownership of the property and may add it to an accumulated portfolio of foreclosed properties, also called real-estate owned (REO). Foreclosed properties are typically easily accessible on banks' websites. Such properties can be attractive to real estate investors because in some cases, banks sell them at a discount to their market value, which of course, in turn negatively affects the lender. (See more on this here: Buying a Foreclosed Home).

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.

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