When the remaining mortgage balance is higher than the actual home value, the foreclosing party is unlikely to attract auction bids at this price level. A house that has gone through a foreclosure auction and failed to attract any acceptable bids may remain the property of the owner of the mortgage. That inventory is called REO (real estate owned). In these situations, the owner/servicer tries to sell it through standard real estate channels.
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.
If you think this is just like renting, you are wrong. The problem with renting is you are paying a monthly fee without having anything to show for it after the fact. Imagine living in that place for years and years! You are potentially paying thousands of dollars for the years to come. With rent to own homes, your money goes towards ownership. Meaning, it is just like renting but working towards actually owning the property yourself instead of throwing your hard earned money down the drain.

In a rent-to-own agreement, you (as the buyer) pay the seller a one-time, usually nonrefundable, upfront fee called the option fee, option money or option consideration. This fee is what gives you the option to buy the house by some date in the future. The option fee is often negotiable, as there’s no standard rate. Still, the fee typically ranges between 2.5% and 7% of the purchase price.

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).[citation needed] 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.[citation needed]

When the remaining mortgage balance is higher than the actual home value, the foreclosing party is unlikely to attract auction bids at this price level. A house that has gone through a foreclosure auction and failed to attract any acceptable bids may remain the property of the owner of the mortgage. That inventory is called REO (real estate owned). In these situations, the owner/servicer tries to sell it through standard real estate channels.


Watch out for lease-purchase contracts. With these, you could be legally obligated to buy the home at the end of the lease – whether you can afford to or not. To have the option to buy without the obligation, it needs to be a lease-option contract. Because legalese can be challenging to decipher, it’s always a good idea to review the contract with a qualified real estate attorney before signing anything, so you know your rights and exactly what you’re getting into.
HousingList provides buyers with a full database of rent-to-own, HUD Homes, and Foreclosure real estate in their area. Visit our library to learn more about what a rent-to-own home is, how to rent-to-own, and other common questions buyers have asked over the years. We work hard to keep this area updated with all the information you will need throughout the entire rent-to-own process. You can also get up-to-date news, tips and more on our blog.
Think about it, what if you were able to pick an area that you would like to live in but may not be able to afford right now or just no ready to make that big purchase. With the Rent to Own process, you can get into that house without the 30 year commitment. You can even have a portion of the rent credited to the sales price or closing costs, that’s instance equity at closing for you.
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