By: Demetrios Salpoglou
As Boston real estate prices soar, many people who aspire to own a home are priced out of the buyers market. In order to buy a home, you may need to have a good credit score and a large sum of money for a down payment.
For many, this is just not an option, and because of that, most people assume that homeownership is not for them. According to a study by Harvard University, over 40 million Americans feel like they can’t afford to buy a home. And as homeownership reduces, rental prices increase.
The traditional route to the American Dream of homeownership would appear to be out of reach for most. Fortunately, there is an option that many aspiring homeowners often overlook, simply because they don’t know how it works: rent-to-own.
What is Rent to Own?
Rent to own is an agreement in which you rent a house or condo for a specified period of time, with the option to purchase it before your lease expires. The contract has two parts: a standard lease agreement plus an option to purchase.
How Rent to Own Works
Rent to own usually occurs within a three year period. As you rent, the monthly payments will include rent and addition payments meant for a down payment for buying the home. The lease contract will state the amount of rent, payment amounts accruing towards a down payment, and the buying price of the home.
Why Purchase with Rent to Own?
Rent to own initiatives can be attractive to home buyers, particularly those with less than good credit interested in strengthening their financial positions for the future. It’s also a great option for anyone who doesn’t have a down payment saved because it give them the option of saving for the down payment monthly along with the rent payment.
Here are five reasons to buy with rent-to-own.
1. Purchase with bad credit: If you cannot qualify for a mortgage, you can begin buying a home with a rent-to-own contract. Over time, you can rebuild your credit score, and be able to secure a loan when it’s time to purchase the house.
2. Lock in a buying price: As Boston real estate prices continue to increase, rent-to-own gives you the benefit of purchasing the house at today’s price (though actual purchase will occur in the future). And if home prices fall below the agreed upon price, you are able to back out of the agreement or renegotiate price.
3. Test drive: This is something many homeowners wish they were able to do before buying. Imagine being able to take a potential home for a 3 year test drive before purchasing. You will undoubtedly learn about any problems that may be deal breakers when it comes to buy.
4. Less relocation: If you love the apartment, fulfill the agreement, and purchase the home, you won’t have to move when the lease is up! That reduces the stress that usually comes with a lease ending and of course it lowers the cost of relocating in future.
5. Build equity: Renters don’t build equity like homeowners. But, rent to own payments can accrue and provide a significant sum to be put towards the down payment when it comes time to buy the home.
What to Keep in Mind
Everything is negotiable
Rent to own transactions begin with agreements. Homebuyers and sellers must agree to specific terms, and all terms are subject to change to suit both parties. Therefore, before signing the contract, be sure your comfortable with all the terms and amounts agreed upon.
Advice is key
Make sure you review any agreement with your real estate attorney since rent to own transactions involve thousands of dollars and can easily get complicated.
An Option to Purchase
At the start of a rent to own agreement, you pay an ‘option premium’. This gives you the right or “option” to buy the home but does not obligate you to purchase in the future.
The option premium payment is non-refundable, but in some cases you can use it to cover closing fees when the time comes to purchase the home. As such, large option premiums are risky if the deal heads south for whatever reason.
A well-maintained rent to own home benefits everyone. But who pays? Your contract should stipulate who becomes responsible for routine maintenance and repairs while you are renting the home.
Rent to own houses are a great option for those that dream of owning a home but don’t have good credit or a down payment. Before entering into an agreement, be sure to consult with your real estate attorney to give you a clear perspective what risks you face, and whether or not rent to own is for you.