In response to a growing desire to share information, develop uniform practices and procedures and cultivate a positive public image within the growing rent to own industry in the United States, rent to own dealers established a trade association—The Association of Progressive Rental Organizations (APRO) in 1980. The association began with approximately 40 original member companies and elected an initial board of 16. Today the association has approximately 350 member companies representing approximately 10,400 stores in all 50 states, Mexico and Canada. Rent to own serves 4.8 million customers at any given time in the year.
A: An experienced Realtor will be able to put together for you a rent-to-own contract (also called a Lease Purchase). Don't hesitate to call your Realtor to ask. If they are uncomfortable doing this type of contract, then ask to speak to their Branch Manager who will have the knowledge to be able to craft a Lease Purchase contract. A Lease Purchase is a GREAT way to lock in on today's home prices, and live in a home to get to know the neighborhood, but be able to obtain the financing later. I would also suggest speaking to a lender now to outline your situation so that you can really be ready in a year to complete the purchase. Good luck!
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The rent-to-own market segment of the real estate industry is not particularly regulated, nor are these transactions carefully tracked. However, a number of horror stories have made their way into the headlines. Most pertain to landlords who took advantage of low-income or unsuspecting renters by structuring the agreements to make tenants responsible for maintenance and repairs, but not disclosing to the renters that the homes were riddled with code violations.
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One of the pros of Rent to Own is that you get time to improve your qualifications for a mortgage while you’re in the home you want to buy. Do your homework ahead of time and know what you need to do to make sure you qualify for the loan amount you need. If the option period expires before you qualify for a mortgage, the seller no longer has an obligation to sell you the Rent to Own listing.
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Making your lease payments on time can help improve your credit. Just make sure your landlord/seller reports your rental payment data to the major credit reporting agencies. There are many other things you can do to improve your credit score while you’re in the rental period of your lease agreement. Start by requesting your free credit report. Federal law entitles you to one free credit report once a year from AnnualCreditReport.com, a website set up by the three major credit bureaus.
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Repairs. Repairs and maintenance responsibility should also be clearly outlined. Usually, the seller will take care of them until the tenant officially purchases the house. However, they can ask the tenant to cover them, and with an RTO contract, they usually do. Have the home inspected to be sure no major repairs are needed before signing to agree to be responsible for them.
What happens when you find the home of your dreams but aren’t quite ready to take out a loan and accept responsibility for a mortgage and property upkeep expenses? You hope there’s a rent-to-own option. This type of contract allows you to rent the home for a designated period of time with the understanding that you can purchase the home near the end of the contract. This gives you time to adjust to your new neighborhood and shop around for the best lender to service your mortgage application. You can end up in a better financial position for taking that time, and you don’t lose out on the home since you get to move in right away as a renter.