If You Can't Buy My House, Rent to Own It

It’s a concept that’s coming into vogue. But is it right for you?

A lease option can be a good alternative for buyers who can’t scrape together the cash for a down payment.

Rent to own: three words in the English language that would seem harmless enough if so many people didn’t conjure up the term "predatory lending." Understandably, you hear "rent to own" and imagine yourself financially tapped out and in a dimly lit store with dingy carpet, signing an agreement to shell out $8 a week, until you’ve finally paid $2,300 to buy a sofa that retails for $700.

But renting to own houses, or lease-optioning a house as they say in the real estate business, is an entirely different business matter. For both the seller and buyer, renting to own a house can be a dream come true -- or, yes, a nightmare. It all depends on a little luck and a lot of forethought.

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