Rent to own homes offer a popular alternative for bargain home buyers and sellers. For buyers who do not have an adequate downpayment available, or are having difficulty qualifying for a traditional home loan, a rent to own (also referred to as 'lease option', 'lease to own', or 'owner financed') agreement can provide a smoother path to homeownership. In a rent to own arrangement, the buyer and seller typically agree to designate a portion of the monthly rent paid is applied to the purchase of the property. The home's purchase price is usually agreed to in advance so there is reduced risk of an increased price at the future purchase date.
Foreclosure by power of sale, also called nonjudicial foreclosure, and is authorized by many states if a power of sale clause is included in the mortgage or if a deed of trust with such a clause was used, instead of an actual mortgage. In some US states, like California and Texas, nearly all so-called mortgages are actually deeds of trust. This process involves the sale of the property by the mortgage holder without court supervision (as elaborated upon below). This process is generally much faster and cheaper than foreclosure by judicial sale. As in judicial sale, the mortgage holder and other lien holders are respectively first and second claimants to the proceeds from the sale.
In some US states, particularly those where only judicial foreclosure is available, the constitutional issue of due process has affected the ability of some lenders to foreclose. In Ohio, the US federal district court for the Northern District of Ohio has dismissed numerous foreclosure actions by lenders because of the inability of the alleged lender to prove that they are the real party in interest. The same happened in a Colorado district court case in June 2008.
Other types of foreclosure are considered minor because of their limited availability. Under strict foreclosure, which is available in a few states including Connecticut, New Hampshire and Vermont, if the mortgagee wins the court case, the court orders the defaulted mortgagor to pay the mortgage within a specified period of time. Should the mortgagor fail to do so, the mortgage holder gains the title to the property with no obligation to sell it. This type of foreclosure is generally available only when the value of the property is less than the debt ("under water"). Historically, strict foreclosure was the original method of foreclosure.
If you have a lease-purchase contract, you may be legally obligated to buy the property when the lease expires. This can be problematic for many reasons, especially if you aren’t able to secure a mortgage. Lease-option contracts are almost always preferable to lease-purchase contracts because they offer more flexibility and you don’t risk getting sued if you are unwilling or unable to buy the home when the lease expires.
As per the foreclosure data report of RealtyTrac for January 2014, 1 in every 1,058 homes in U.S received a foreclosure filing. This figure falls in the higher spectrum of foreclosure frequency. As of August 2014, the foreclosure rate was 33.7%, 1.7% up from the last year. The rise in foreclosure activity has been most significant in New York and New Jersey, the two most densely populated areas in U.S. Closely following them is Florida.
Rent to own situations can be structured in two popular ways. One is the lease purchase. A lease purchase usually requires the tenant to commit to buy the home over an agreed to period of time. Terms can be quite flexible to suit the renter's needs. These terms include the time frame, the amount of rent applied to the rent to own purchase, and the price of the property. The second approach is called a lease option. In a lease option, many of the same terms apply as in a lease purchase. The difference is in the lease option, the tenant may not be required to purchase the home at the end of the option time period. However, in each case, the renter usually needs to put up a non-refundable option fee to initiate 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.
The impact of foreclosure goes beyond just homeowners but also expands to towns and neighborhoods as a whole. Cities with high foreclosure rates often experience more crime and thefts with abandoned houses being broken into, garbage collecting on lawns, and an increase in prostitution. Foreclosures also impact neighboring housing sales on two levels—space and time. For any given time frame, foreclosures have a greater negative impact when they are closer to the property attempting to be sold. The conventional view suggested is that the increase in foreclosures will cause declines in the sales value of neighboring properties, which, in turn, will lead to an extension of the housing crisis. Another significant impact from increased foreclosure rates is on school mobility of children. In general, research suggests that switching schools is damaging for children, although this does significantly depend on the quality of the origin and destination schools. A study done in New York City revealed that students who changed schools most often entered a school with lower, on average, test scores and overall school performance. The effect of these moves on academic performance for individual students requires further research. Foreclosures also have an emotional and physical effect on people. In one particular study of 250 recruited participants who had experienced foreclosure, 36.7% met screening criteria for major depression.
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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.