A lease option is a contract between the potential tenant and the seller that specifies the agreement to rent the property for a set amount of time and it comes with a right to refuse option that gives the potential buyer a way out at the end of the contract's termination date. It should include how much the rent is, when it is due, fees, penalties, security deposit amounts, pets, smoking requirements, parking, maintenance responsibilities, and utilities. The main difference between a traditional lease and a rent-to-own lease is deciding who will pay for upkeep and maintenance. In a traditional lease, a landlord would take care of all of these things. With RTO, the tenant might be responsible. It should also clearly specify that any rent credits or any amount of money that the tenant has had set in escrow becomes forfeit if they choose not to purchase the home. This releases them from their obligation to purchase the property, and the seller is responsible for finding a new tenant.
You don’t have to qualify for a mortgage right away. You may be drawn to a rent-to-own program because you can’t afford to buy a home yet. Maybe you’re still paying off debt or you don’t have a down payment saved. Moving into a house without qualifying for a mortgage may seem like the answer, but here’s the truth: The chances of your rent-to-own agreement falling through go way up if you’re already in a financial mess.
You're Eligible With no Money and Bad Credit. It is easier, in general, to get approved for an RTO contract. However, each seller is different, and they will all have different guidelines and stipulations any possible tenants must meet. They could ask for a minimum credit score, stable payment history, a smaller percentage down, and proof that the tenant can obtain financing at the end of the contract.
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The contract will also indicate how long you’ll rent the home before you have to decide whether to buy it and how much you’ll pay in rent each month. The contract should state, too, how much of your monthly rental payment will go toward reducing the final sales price of the home. It should also list what happens to any extra rent money you pay each month. In most rent-to-own agreements, that extra money is also nonrefundable.
Meanwhile, banks have all but stopped underwriting home loans for less than $100,000. New banking regulations require significantly more time and paperwork, so these smaller loans tend to not be profitable for most banks nowadays. Rent-to-own homes tend to be most common in weak market areas where borrowers would need these smaller loans. Basically, rent-to-own provides an alternative for people who can’t make their way through today’s new banking system for one reason or another.
The concept of rent-to-own transactions first emerged in the United Kingdom and continental European countries under the hire purchase model. One of the first rent-to-own retail stores established in the U.K. was Lotus Radio, which began operating as a radio rental business in 1933. Within the United States, the practice of retail-based rent-to-own businesses began to develop in the 1950s and 1960s. Individuals cited as key figures in the history of the rent-to-own transaction and application as a business model include Charles Loudermilk, Sr., who in 1955 began renting out Army surplus chairs and later founded Aaron Rents, and J. Ernest Talley, who started Mr. T’s Rental in Wichita, Kansas in 1963, and later helped establish Rent-A-Center.
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“Anything unusual – in income, for example – tosses good income earners into an ‘outlier’ status because underwriters can’t fit them neatly into a box,” says Scholtz. This includes people who have nontraditional incomes, are self-employed or contract workers, or have unestablished U.S. credit (e.g., foreign nationals) – and those who simply lack the huge 20% to 40% down payment banks require for nonconforming loans.
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Just remember, you will need to get the seller to agree on not only the rent to own agreement, but the terms of the agreement. i. e., length of the agreement, usually, one to two years; the percentage of the rent which gets applied to the sales price or closing costs, etc. If you get lucky, the seller may also be interested in doing Seller Financing with you. Just be sure to have a lawyer review any agreement before you sign it. A little legal cost upfront could save you thousands of dollars down the road.