First, it helps to become familiar with different names and terms: rent to own, lease option, lease with option to buy, and lease purchase are often used interchangeably, depending on who you ask. Not all properties are advertised this way, but technically any property can be sold through a rent to own agreement.
If you would like to do it yourself, there’s a lot of great properties in Southern California on Craigslist, Zillow, Realtor.com, and even the local newspaper.
You can call the owner and ask if they’d be willing to consider a lease with option agreement. You’ll probably hear a lot of people tell you “no,” but investing the time can be worth it if you finally hear “yes.” Keep in mind that most sellers put their homes on the market hoping just to get the best price and walk away. Even though a lease with option to purchase can be a great arrangement for both the buyer and seller, sometimes it’s only offered after the property has been on the market for a while.
Many real estate agents may commonly say “no” without checking with a seller, but it is common for sellers to change their mind after their house has been sitting on the market. Advertising terms like “flexible seller” and “will consider terms” often indicate that the seller is becoming increasingly motivated.
If you see an ad or a sign that offers seller financing, that’s slightly different – that’s where the seller acts as the bank and gives you the financing to buy the home. You become the owner of the property, and if you don’t pay the loan then you will be hit with foreclosure.
With a rent to own arrangement, you sign a lease and an option to purchase agreement. You do not have to complete the purchase – and you will not get hit with a foreclosure.
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