If you need to place a deposit upfront, I do not recommend that you enter in to a lease/purchase. Your deposti is at risk for a length time, and statistically, most do not materialize into a sale. If you can enter into a lease/purchase where you simply pay fair market rent and then convert into a sale, it is worth considering. If a deposit is involved, it should be relatively small. If the lease/purchase term is short, 6 months or less, that is far less riskly.
Lease purchases are available in many towns. A local Realtor can tell you what is currently available. Also, if you are looking for a short term lease/purchase, your Realtor can approach seller agents and propose that as an option to their sellers.
These transactions usually occurred without the involvement of a Realtor.
There is nothing inherently wrong with the lease option. It is very possible to create a lease option that is fair to both the buyer and the seller. I only caution you because it has been greatly misused in the past few years.
The link below goes into more detail on the dangers of lease option for unsophisticated consumers.
These types of transactions are meant to allow the parties to enter into a transaction that would allow the buyer use of the property now and the right for time to consider the purchase of the property at a future date at now agreed to terms, and the seller to create income on a property that would otherwise be a cost liability.
They are also used in situations in where the buyer has not accumulated enough money for a downpayment for a regular loan qualification due to certain circumstances, it does not necessarily mean the buyer is a dead beat. This method allows the buyer with say a new great income job, but not enough savings now, to monthly accumulate the downpayment that will be required to purchase the property at a future date.
It could also be used when the buyer/renter is not sure of a new job and it's stability. These types of programs are available in all states, but again the real estate licensee should check the state's statutes to determine what exactly is needed in the paper work. Here in NM our agency executes an agreement which stipulates the meeting of the minds of the parties and we then execute a lease and a purchase agreement which are attached to the agreement as exhibits.
In the case of the buyer, the costs (monthly) associated with a lease with an option to purchase are usually the rent amount and since it is a rental there might be a damage deposit involved, and an additonal amount to accumulate towards the purchase in the future, if the option to purchase is not exercised then the additional amount becomes rent. The lease with a right of first refusal acts the same with the lease part as to costs but there is usually one charge up front for the seller to grant the buyer the right to match any offers in the future from others, that the seller is willing to accept.
In the offer to purchase that is accepted for exercising in the future both regular bank financing can be used or the seller can option to finance the purchase if the option is exercised.
Ask a local licensee that is familiar with these types of transactions to assist you, (please don't use one that doesn not know how to do these, otherwise I can assure you, that there will be trouble) all you have to do is present the program to the seller and negotiate the terms if the seller accepts these types of programs.
There will always be sellers open to the idea of a Lease/Purchase. Some will be advertising that they'll do this, but most won't. Your Realtor will have to call and ask on a case by case basis. There are many motivated sellers out there, and those are the ones most likely to be open to a Lease/Purchase.