Hi Mike, I suggest you proceed very carefully regarding rent-to-own listings, especially if you are finding them on Craig's List. Postlets is a free service, and anyone can make a very professional-looking ad with or without a real estate license. The reason I am cautious is I have a friend who answered an ad, which looked too good to be true, and it turned out that the property had been foreclosed by a major bank, and banks do not do rent-to-owns. The people who ran the ad wanted a large sum of money for an application fee, and that is not typical for rent-to-own scenarios either.
Right now, rent-to-owns are not typical for the Sherman Oaks area. The only advantage in this market to do such a deal is if you don't have the down payment, but 3.5% FHA loans take the teeth out of this scenario.
Good luck and do not hesitate to ask more questions.