Hi Brian- Rent to own was a popular solution for sellers during the 1980s when very high interest rates (which often topped 17%) limited the number of buyers. In this time period sellers who had lots of equity in their homes could afford to finance buyers who otherwise could not afford to buy, due to the high interest rates.
Although some realtors and buyers have tried to make the concept of rent to own work for this real estate market - it is not usually beneficial for either buyers or sellers. The housing market stalled not because of a lack of buyers (although there are fewer due to unemployment and poor credit), but mainly because sellers could not afford to sell their homes at the lower prices as housing prices fell from grossly inflated highs. In other words, today's sellers can not afford to finance the sale of their homes to buyers. The only way sellers who do not own their homes could do this is by inflating the value of their home - which does not benefit the buyer. These underwater sellers are either forced into short sale or foreclosure - or rent their homes.
Sellers who do have enough equity in their homes to sell, can find buyers who are able to purchase the home without assistance from the seller. The seller who can buy now is a bird in hand.