[NOTE: a new option for lease purchase at the bottom of this reply] Lease-purchases are more commonly advertised on the private market. As Maurice and Kathy stated, they are not common in the agent-listed market. While many might disagree, I believe that most "lease -purchase" contracts favor the seller and are seldom a good opportunity for a buyer. when a renter wants to buy but cannot get financing or afford a substantial down payment, they hope some seller will finance for them and look for a L-P. If a seller can't get a qualified buyer and chooses to take a risk on a buyer who can't qualify for a mortgage, then both are taking a chance - who knows what condition the property will be in if they have to take it back?
However, the main L-P market is investor sellers who flip houses and rent them, or sell/finance them at high interest rates, or give tenants a lease and charge a high, non-refundable downpayment deposit (~5%). If the tenant-buyer moves for any reason - usually b/c they discover issues with the house or their finances change - they can move, but have left their savings behind. Rent does not apply towards purchase price, but owner might credit a small amount each month. I ALWAYS suggest that Tenants/Wannabe Buyers KEEP THE LEASE AND PURCHASE OPTION AS SEPARATE TRANSACTIONS. A tenant should lease the property - if they decide to buy it, that needs to be an agreement separate from rent. the agreement, terms and price can be set at the beginning of the lease, but tenant needs to treat the property as a tenant until they buy, and owner needs to be a responsive landlord. A large investment company has developed a program that works that way. Instead of choosing a rental house and negotiating terms, the tenant applies for a rental house and is given a budget. Then the tenant gets to go shopping for a house FOR SALE with their agent that falls within that budget. Home Partners signs a lease with the Tenant / Buyer, buys the house, makes sure it is in good condition, and the Tenant moves in. HPA also signs a purchase OPTION with the buyer - and the price escalates 5% per year. The benefit of this is that the tenant has a straight lease with a reputable landlord, but if this is the house you want, you get a chance to purchase it when your finances allow.
Sorry for the LOOOONG explanation, but too many hopeful buyers lose their savings to bad L-P agreements. Tenant buyers need to have an experienced agent and/or attorney on their side
They are most common in a difficult seller's market, so right now there are not so many. A lot of times they are properties that are having difficulty selling conventionally (many times due to pricing or location issues). They usually require a decent sized deposit and the terms vary (most want you to close within 1 year). You have to negotiate whether you are going to pay just rent or rent plus an additional amount every month that goes towards additional deposit. Most owners have credit requirements including providing a credit report. There are standard Lease/Purchase contract forms. Additionally, in return for giving terms, most owners expect full price. Of course, a lot depends on the price range of the property you are looking at and depends on what the owner's housing situation is (with issues such as "is the house paid for" or "is there a current mortgage on the property" being a couple of examples). It's a complicated subject, but hope this helps a little.
I think you are referring to what is otherwise known as a lease option. I think it is helpful to have a basic understanding of what a lease option is. The lease option is actually two things, a lease and a purchase option. A lease is a contract for possession and use of the property, creating a landlord/tenant relationship. The option aspect of the agreement allows the optionee ("buyer") the exclusive right to the purchase the leased property if the tenant desires to purchase. The option price is generally agreed upon at the beginning of the lease, although that may vary depending on the situation. At any time during the option period, which normally is the same as the lease period, the tenant can exercise his or her option to purchase. A lease with option arrangement is not a sale, instead it is a landlord tenant relationship or rental agreement. According to Georgia Metro Listing Service, there are currently 8 properties available as lease option properties. However, that number does not constitute what is available in the entire market place because it is from one listing source and the number can change at a moments notice.
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