I specialize in rent to own buyers and sellers. Visit http://www.Rent2OwnGR.com and http://www.NHORN.org for valuable info.! In a nutshell credit, income, and down payment /dep. are typical factors involved much like when qualifying for a rental.
The key differences are...1. your picking a home in a location you want to buy, not one your forced into. 2. your able to get credits back for payments and downstroke at the buyout of the rental period when you pay on time? 3. your able to make drastic improvements to your credit during the lease period, assuming that's an issue? This is simply a method of homeownership that can be extremely attractive considering your alternatives, especially in times of "the credit crunch".
There are several variables and conditions that you should know about before entering into an option to buy... I specialize in these, and have posted blogs regarding this sitiuation. I have optioned out property to other tenants before, and have had favorable results, resulting in a win-win for both parties.
Vickie, Can I suggest making your first step verifying your credit history. Most homes leased with option to buy require a credit check. By checking your credit at http://annualcreditreport.com with all three reporting agencies you can verify no incorrect information has been entered about your credit history. The website is free (with pay options) once per year.
A local real estate professional would be able to give you additional information. I can recommend Lola Audo of Audo Real Estate. She is a member on Trulia.
What would you like to know? Lease-optioning a house can be a good way for someone without sufficient credit or a down payment to control and perhaps purchase a home. It's also a good way for owners to open up the market for their homes to additional potential buyers.