The houses/apartments are usually overpriced and sold to people that can otherwise "not" purchase a home and are somewhat taken advantage of. The chances of the rent to own scenario is probably not going to happen.
What will happen is you will get a whole bunch of Realtors telling you they can do it or have done it and really will be lookig to sell you something else.
I am sure that there will be a bunch of people saying that I do not know what I am talking about and blah, blah, blah.. but, lets speak the truth. I have not seen one good rent-to-own situation that has worked.
Think about it.. you want to buy a place in a down market, telling the landlord that you will pay this amount -*next year*- and the market goes through the roof.. guess what happens to you and your rent-to-own.... over.
If it works out for you and you find one.. let us know!
Better option is to find a rental that works, maintain or build your credit and save money for a down payment - then buy!
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Most sellers need proceeds in order to move on to the next property they wish to purchase. Most landlords choose to be in that role and want tenants, not buyers. In a much smaller group are those who will 'rent-to-own." Most buyers find the process of home shopping to take more time than anticipated, and end up looking at more homes than they expected.
If you want to pursue that small group of properties that will fall into the 'rent-to-own' category, be prepared to be very flexible in your choice of properties. It will open you up to a better possibility of achieving your goal.
In a rent-to-own agreement, expect that you may pay premium pricing on both rent rate and purchase price. It's a reality of supply and demand.
Where to find? Look for houses which are vacant, not bank owned or being marketed through a relo firm. Find private owners who have moved out of their home and are now paying upkeep, and perhaps a mortgage, on a vacant property. Lease/Option is a searchable category in many MLSs, and the list of return results is usually quite short. Since finding this opportunity is like finding a needle in a haystack, you'll need to do quite a bit of legwork yourself.
Find a REALTOR to work with, gather listings that have been on the market for a long period, and do a lot of drive-bys. When you identify a handful of properties that meet your 'curb appeal' and 'location' preferences, the REALTOR can inquire if a rent to own might be considered.