In a lease/ option typically you pay a higher rent with a portion of the rent going towards the purchase. If you decide not to go through with the purchase the additional rent that you paid is not refunded back to you. The purchase price may or may not set at that time. For people that have difficulty obtaining a loan on their own, need time to work on credit issues, a lease/option to purchase may be a good idea.
If you are unfamiliar with the neighborhood you are considering moving to their are various web sites that can provide you with information on schools, crime statistics et