The 8 Greatest Strategies for Discovering a Lease-to-Personal Residence


The standard homebuying course of goes one thing like this: You save up your money, get preapproved for a mortgage, and put a proposal on a home that matches your finances. The provide is accepted, and after the closing interval, you signal the mortgage, seize the keys, and transfer in.

However what if that sequence of occasions doesn’t work for everybody? Typically you don’t have sufficient money saved up for a down cost, otherwise you’re between jobs and might’t qualify for a mortgage. Perhaps there’s a divorce that hasn’t been settled but or one other monetary impediment in your method.

If that’s the case, there’s an alternate path to homeownership it’s possible you’ll not have thought of: discovering a rent-to-own residence. These preparations, when structured correctly, can deliver a whole lot of advantages to each purchaser and vendor.

Nonetheless, it’s not at all times simple to uncover these alternatives by merely searching actual property listings or driving by means of your dream neighborhood, and you must be cautious of unscrupulous sellers. We talked to knowledgeable brokers skilled within the rent-to-own course of to point out you precisely the place to look and what pitfalls to be careful for.

What’s a rent-to-own residence?

A rent-to-own house is an settlement that enables the renter to purchase the house from the owner after a particular lease interval. With a rent-to-own contract, you’ll need to pay a lease choice price upfront. That is basically a safety deposit that ensures your proper to buy the property on the finish of the lease. In some instances, this price shall be utilized to the down cost on the finish of the lease time period. Lease choice charges differ extensively with some as little as 1% and others 10% or extra.

The acquisition value of the house is locked in upfront to avoid wasting any negotiation on the finish of the lease. Lease funds will then embody a lease premium, or the portion of month-to-month lease put aside in an escrow account to be utilized towards the down cost. Due to the lease premium, nonetheless, it can appear to be you’re paying an above-market fee. This cash will finally come again to you within the type of a down cost, however should you select to not train your choice to purchase, that cash could also be misplaced.

Let’s take a more in-depth take a look at the 2 sorts of rent-to-own contracts:

Lease choice

A lease-option contract is just like a regular rental lease however contains an choice to buy the house on the finish of the lease time period. For those who select to not purchase, you’ll lose the choice price and, relying on the phrases of the contract, probably the down cost and any fairness within the property.

Lease buy

A lease-purchase contract implies that the client is obligated to purchase the house on the finish of the lease time period. If the client decides to stroll away or doesn’t qualify for a mortgage on the finish of the lease, not solely do they danger shedding their deposit, down cost, and any fairness, however additionally they could also be left open to authorized motion since they broke the phrases of the contract.

Professionals and cons of rent-to-own


  • A rent-to-own contract locks within the buy value of a house at this time, so when you’re saving for a down cost, you’re not racing towards rising residence costs.
  • Lease-to-own offers the chance to construct your credit score rating by paying lease whereas concurrently dwelling within the residence.
  • When you have poor credit or circumstances which might be stopping you from mortgage approval, a rent-to-own settlement may give you time to iron out the problems whereas dwelling within the residence that you simply plan to buy.
  • Any such settlement takes saving the down cost out of the client’s palms and does it mechanically with every lease cost. That is particularly helpful for individuals who could have hassle saving on their very own.
  • At a time when housing stock is low, it is a inventive path to homeownership.


  • For those who determine to not purchase, the additional cash you paid in upfront charges and lease funds could also be misplaced.
  • Life circumstances can change drastically in the course of the lease time period, and in a lease-purchase contract, it’s possible you’ll be legally obligated to purchase the property on the finish of the lease time period.
  • You could be chargeable for upkeep prices.
  • If the house decreases in worth by the tip of the lease, you might have hassle securing financing if the initially agreed-upon value is larger than the house’s appraisal worth.

After weighing the professionals and cons, should you determine that rent-to-own is for you, right here’s tips on how to discover rent-to-own properties, assist keep away from scams, and get one other step nearer to homeownership.

Lease-to-owns could be useful to those that don’t at present have the cash for a down-payment, permitting them time to avoid wasting. But it surely’s additionally essential to keep in mind that in case you are not capable of buy on the finish of the contract, it’s possible you’ll lose any cash that went towards lease premiums.

  • James Silver
    Actual Property Agent


    James Silver
    James Silver
    Actual Property Agent at Keller Williams Somerset


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Tips on how to discover rent-to-own properties

1. Speak to an skilled agent

One of the crucial priceless assets at your disposal in the course of the house-hunting course of is an skilled purchaser’s agent by your aspect. You’ll need to discover an agent who has expertise conducting rent-to-own transactions as a result of there could be a whole lot of unfamiliar phrases and circumstances with these agreements. Though a vendor most likely isn’t out to benefit from you, they need one of the best final result for themselves, in order that they aren’t essentially working in your greatest curiosity. A purchaser’s agent is further armor towards a nasty deal.

James Silver, a high Detroit-area actual property agent with 19 years of expertise, is aware of how essential an excellent agent is when looking for rent-to-own properties. He’s labored with 76% extra single-family-home gross sales than different brokers in his space, and he has in depth expertise with rent-to-own properties.

“Sellers aren’t going that will help you make all these choices” that go right into a rent-to-own contract, he explains. “That’s why you want a very good actual property agent to advocate in your behalf.”

Not solely can an agent provide their perception and years of expertise, however they might help you discover simply the correct alternative, whether or not that’s by means of particular MLS searches, their in depth actual property community, or their data of the most recent developments in your market or geographic space.

“Lease-to-owns could be useful to those that don’t at present have the cash for a down-payment, permitting them time to avoid wasting,” Silver says. “But it surely’s additionally essential to keep in mind that in case you are not capable of buy on the finish of the contract, it’s possible you’ll lose any cash that went towards lease premiums.”

It’s essential to get preapproved in your financing earlier than you start trying or method your landlord, so that you don’t waste time renting-to-own one thing you’ll be able to’t actually afford.

2. Discover a brokerage with a rent-to-own program

You additionally would possibly take into account going with an agent or brokerage with devoted rent-to-own applications to seek out properties to lease with the correct to buy. For instance, high Tampa actual property agent Christina Griffin makes use of the Residence Companions of America program to assist her patrons get into properties of their desired neighborhoods.

Not a brokerage, some of these corporations are nearer to actual property funding companies. They work with you and licensed brokers to discover a single-family residence it’s possible you’ll not sometimes be capable to lease. Then, they purchase it, set a purchase order value for the house, and lease it to you; you will have the correct to purchase the house after your lease is up on the preset value. These applications let you transfer in and get a really feel for the house and the neighborhood earlier than totally committing to a purchase order.

Griffin’s 19 years of expertise, significantly with single-family properties, have given her a whole lot of perception into the issues that may crop up with rent-to-own properties.

“If at any time the individual that owns the house goes into foreclosures or they determine to promote the house, it’s very exhausting to have the ability to have the power to get that cash again that you simply’ve invested,” she says. “Extra individuals than I can depend, the house went into foreclosures.” The renters had no clue there was even any hassle, after which the house was taken from underneath them.

Utilizing a rent-to-own program reminiscent of Residence Companions helps cut back a few of that danger. As an alternative of rent-to-own, the association is what’s generally known as “lease with the correct to buy.” You pay lease, however you pay nothing further towards the acquisition value. Your lease and the acquisition value are each locked in, and also you get the correct to purchase the home everytime you’re prepared, in accordance with the phrases of the settlement.

Griffin recommends to her patrons that they be sure that it’s a rental value that they will afford and that they will be sure that they’re in an space the place they will purchase. “There’s simply a whole lot of uncertainty round rent-to-own except it’s an funding property,” she says. That’s why a specialist firm can profit the client — by eradicating a number of the dangers that the vendor won’t make good on their finish of the deal.

3. Contact a vendor

An skilled agent might help you assume exterior of the field and determine listings which were lingering in the marketplace for months. The sellers of these properties could be particularly keen on renting, giving them the chance to earn slightly extra cash monthly whereas each events transfer towards an eventual sale.

For a vendor who’s been having a tough time promoting a property, a rent-to-own association helps them with a month-to-month revenue within the type of lease from you. And should you’re not ready to safe a standard mortgage, you could be dwelling in a house when you rebuild your credit score, search for a job, or anticipate authorized issues to be settled — no matter your state of affairs could also be.

Organized correctly, rent-to-own agreements can profit each events. Your agent might help you find these sellers and negotiate a deal.

Even when a vendor isn’t at present providing a rent-to-own choice, your agent can float them the likelihood.

Silver says, “I name the agent and simply say, ‘Hey, I’ve a consumer that’s searching for one thing like this with a lease-option (to purchase); they’ve actually good credit score scores, they’ll be capable to purchase sooner or later, and your vendor can gather extra cash within the meantime and get what they’re searching for.’” The itemizing agent can then take that provide to the vendor and generally work out a deal.

He additionally provides to name individuals who have a house for lease. “They’re typically open to lease with choices — or if it’s only a straight rental, simply name and ask individuals.”

You received’t know except you ask, and your agent might help you ask.

4. Discover a reluctant landlord

Equally, you and your agent might be able to discover a landlord who’s searching for an escape hatch. In the event that they’re keen on promoting the property they’re at present renting out, your rent-to-own provide might be a good way to make that transition.

A majority of these landlords normally have only one rental property, they usually could have begun renting it out as a result of they’d issue promoting it. You might be able to sweeten the deal by providing to keep up the house and carry out repairs when you’re renting — duties that reluctant landlords could significantly dislike. In return, if all goes effectively, you’ve bought a house to buy on the finish of the contract: one which you’ve been caring for and dwelling in, so you recognize what you’re getting.

Currently, nonetheless, with the pandemic’s impact on the housing market — housing stock declined nearly 40% nationally in 2020 — properties aren’t sitting in the marketplace for lengthy, that means that there are fewer reluctant landlords or properties lingering in the marketplace.

In response to Kim Alden, a premier luxurious actual property agent within the Northwest Illinois suburbs, because the market heated up in the course of the pandemic, “leases are few and much between and sellers actually aren’t ready the place they aren’t capable of promote. So it’s actually by no means been even a dialogue like, hey, can I make this a rental as a result of it’s not promoting as a result of mainly every little thing is promoting so long as it’s priced within the ballpark.”

5. Discover the foreclosures market

One supply of potential rent-to-own properties is the foreclosures market. Householders dealing with foreclosures could be particularly open to a rent-to-own contract; the catch is that you simply can not do a rent-to-own association if the home is already in foreclosures. But when the proprietor is in pre-foreclosure, they will profit from the lease they gather from you whereas additionally securing a path to the eventual sale of the home.

One such specialty portal that may enable you discover high quality leads for rent-to-own properties is They’ve 1000’s of listings the place the vendor could also be keen to enter a rent-to-own settlement with the client to assist them keep away from foreclosures, and you’ll browse by state and even by county.

You’ll nonetheless want to supply phrases the vendor will comply with, and it’s well worth the cash to rent an actual property lawyer to evaluate your contract to verify your entire bases are coated. And take into account, if the house is foreclosed on, it’s possible you’ll lose the home and any cash you’ve invested up to now.

6. Use a specialty portal

There are a variety of specialty portals geared towards serving to individuals discover rent-to-own properties, together with Lease-to-Personal Labs, Hidden Listings, and HomeFinder. Every of those value $1 for a 7-day trial and $49.60 for each month after that. (These costs and phrases are, after all, topic to vary!)

However these websites additionally checklist properties which might be on the market, in preforeclosure, or up for sheriff’s gross sales or foreclosures auctions, so it’s unclear whether or not all the properties are literally rent-to-own choices or whether or not the proprietor is keen to enter a rent-to-own settlement.

As an illustration, one residence that comes up in my space is listed as “Verified” on Lease-to-Personal Labs however can be up for “Sheriff’s Sale,” that means there’s a judgment towards the house and it will likely be put up for public sale.

For those who determine to make use of any of those platforms, be sure to do your analysis on the person property earlier than getting too excited.

7. Look into startups

There are a variety of startups on the market seeking to reinvent the rent-to-own market and clear up the rent-to-own mannequin’s repute.

Residence Companions of America, which we talked about earlier, is one such firm. Together with Divvy, ZeroDown, and Landis (which boasts buyers together with Jay-Z and Will Smith), these corporations basically let you select a house that you simply finally need to purchase, buy it, and lease it to you for a specified interval, after which you should purchase the house for the predetermined value.

Throughout the lease interval, you’ll be constructing your credit score rating when you pay lease, and a part of your lease cost is put aside for an eventual down cost. Usually, you’ll be able to preserve the down cost should you determine to not purchase the home.

8. Attain out to your community

Whether or not you attain out to your community personally or by way of social media, you simply could discover that somebody in your circle is attempting to unload a house and would love to attach with you. Attain out to your folks, neighbors, and different social contacts. Allow them to know you’re seeking to transfer; ask round if anybody is open to a rent-to-own association.

You may also widen your internet by posting on a neighborhood discover board or a web site reminiscent of or Fb. You may even be part of specialty teams on Fb which might be devoted to discovering and sharing rent-to-own properties. Simply watch out when promoting or connecting exterior of your circle, as a result of rent-to-own scams abound. It could be crushing to pay years of lease credit and an choice price solely to seek out the “vendor” doesn’t legally personal the house or by no means meant to promote it in any respect.

Is a rent-to-own residence for you?

Earlier than deciding on a rent-to-own settlement, be sure to assume lengthy and exhausting in regards to the professionals and cons. It’s troublesome to know the place your life will take you, so locking into a house buy for a while sooner or later must be one thing you’re completely certain you need to do.

Alden says she not often sees rent-to-own agreements that work out. She notes that tenants begin to cool on rent-to-own contracts as soon as they understand every little thing that goes into it. “They need to pay an lawyer as a result of it’s actually like a purchase order contract that’s simply going to have an prolonged closing interval,” Alden says, “so once they discover out they need to pay an lawyer to jot down up the contract they usually need to have a preapproval, they have an inclination to shrink back and go and simply search for a standard rental.”

For those who do determine to pursue a rent-to-own residence, regardless of which method you go about discovering one, it’s extremely essential to guard your self towards monetary catastrophe. Get every little thing in writing, get a trusted knowledgeable to look it over, and don’t rush into something — particularly if it sounds too good to be true.

Header Picture Supply: (Pixabay / Pexels)


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