Unfortunately, Rent to Own is an option that has been tainted by a few companies with a poor reputation in the housing industry for taking nonrefundable deposits from tenants who clearly won’t ever be able to qualify for a mortgage or afford the home they’re hoping to buy. Buying a house is an emotional experience. You can fall in love with a home and ignore the numbers. You need to advocate for yourself and make sure you can afford home ownership and qualify for financing when your lease runs out.
Your contract may state that you, as the buyer, have to pay for repairs, homeowner fees, property taxes, and insurance while renting. Other contracts will stipulate that the current owner (the seller) covers these costs. It’s important that your contract clearly state who will cover repairs, because you might get stuck fixing a water leak on a home that isn’t legally yours yet. You should still have renter’s insurance to cover any issues in the interim.
The legal controversy surrounding rent-to-own transactions has centered primarily on the question of whether the transaction should be treated as a lease or a credit sale. The industry has contended that the transaction is a lease;[17] while consumer advocacy groups have advocated for the transaction to be treated as a credit sale. As of 2011, forty-seven U.S. states, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia have passed laws characterizing the transaction as a lease.[18] Of the five U.S. state supreme courts that have addressed the question, three (Massachusetts, Arkansas and Maine) concluded that the transaction was a lease.[18][19][20] New Jersey and Minnesota concluded it was a credit sale based upon those states’ credit laws.[21][22][23] A federal district court in Wisconsin also found the transaction to be a credit sale under Wisconsin state law.[24]
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Rent to own housing contracts is especially attractive to sellers when the real estate market is slow, and the homeowner worries that their house won’t sell quickly at an appropriate price. So, instead of listing the house for sale, the seller offers the rent to own option to attract a potential buyer who wants to buy the house but isn’t in the financial position to purchase the property at that moment.

The cost incurred by consumers in rent-to-own transactions has been the subject of long-term debate and differing opinion. Historically, consumer advocates, some U.S. state attorneys general and some academic researchers have expressed concern that consumers entering into rent-to-own agreements may be unaware of the potentially high long-term costs of rent-to-own in comparison to traditional installment or layaway plans.[11] Often mentioned alongside most critiques is the question of whether prices paid for services of this type are adequate for lower-income individuals who can least afford additional financial outlays.[12] At the same time, other academic researchers and representatives of industry associations have contended that rent-to-own transactions are not comparable to traditional methods of purchasing or financing consumer goods, in that they include services such as delivery, assembly, service and repair, all of which are factored into the higher assessed value and corresponding price charged.[13][14] Also frequently noted by proponents of the unique nature of rent-to-own transactions is the point that they are not obligations to purchase, since the agreement can be terminated by the lessee at any point in time with the return of the property.[15] Research conducted by the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth in 2003 found that 90% of rent-to-own merchandise is returned with less than 36% of the scheduled weekly payments made, suggesting that transactions of this type are "more frequently used for short-term needs rather than as a method of acquisition."[16]
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According to a Federal Trade Commission survey on the rent-to-own industry in the United States conducted in 2000, consumers reported that they chose to engage in rent-to-own transactions for a variety of reasons, including “the lack of a credit check”, “the ability to obtain merchandise they otherwise could not”, and “the convenience and flexibility of the transaction”.[1] The most common reason cited for dissatisfaction within the survey was high prices. In addition, some survey respondents reported poor treatment by employees in connection with late rental payments, problems with repair services, and hidden or added costs.[1]
Rent to own housing contracts is especially attractive to sellers when the real estate market is slow, and the homeowner worries that their house won’t sell quickly at an appropriate price. So, instead of listing the house for sale, the seller offers the rent to own option to attract a potential buyer who wants to buy the house but isn’t in the financial position to purchase the property at that moment.
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Maintenance. Usually, there are specifications in the contract concerning maintenance. It isn't uncommon for the person who is purchasing the property to maintain it while they're living there. The tenant can be asked to pay for any repairs, property taxes, insurance, and any homeowner's association fees. Since it is the seller's home, they are technically responsible for taxes, insurance, and homeowner's association fees but they could ask the tenant to pay them. Either way, the tenant will need renter's insurance. It is up to the potential seller to specify what is covered by maintenance and what is not covered. This is very important because if nothing is specified, the tenant could end of doing major repairs instead of basic maintenance.
There is no shortage of buyer options with RealtyStore. Look for Smart Score as you look through MLS, foreclosure, rent to own, for sale by owner (FSBO), and other real estate deals. Smart Score is an indicator to show how well the home is priced compared to other homes in the area. Higher scores mean it is a great deal, and a low score means you should negotiate aggressively when you make an offer.
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.
Do you feel emotionally ready to buy a home, but your lack of capital or credit history has resigned you to renting? There is a middle ground: a rent-to-own home. This arrangement is a godsend to renters who want to build equity in a home without surmounting the hurdles that come with buying a home outright. So how do you find such a dreamy scenario? Read on for the steps to take and pitfalls to avoid.
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I have nothing to "sell" you - so I'll lay out the issues I have with lease options below. "Can" rent to own deals work out for the buyer? Sure. You just assume a lot of additional risk vs. buying a home the conventional way. They are not, however, a way to circumvent the credit/income qualifications - you simply "postpone" this process for the term of the lease. At the end of the day, to "own" the home - you have to qualify for, and take out a mortgage on the property. There is no way to simply "make monthly payments" until you own the home, without having to qualify for anything on the basis on your credit, etc.
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