How do lease options work and what are the benefits? [back to top]
A lease option is an arrangement with you and a seller to exercise the option to buy a house after you have rented it for a specific period. A portion of your rent would applied toward the purchase if the option is exercised. This is referred to as rent credit, which most institutional lenders will accept as part of the down payment if rental payments exceed the market rent and if a valid lease-purchase agreement is in effect, a copy of which must be attached to the loan application.
When a renter signs a lease with an option to purchase a property for a specific price within a certain time frame, that is called a lease option. In most lease-option situations, a portion of the rent is applied to a future down payment.
Contact your real estate agent (some even specialize in such transactions) or read up on lease options at the public library. If you have a real estate attorney, ask if he or she has any prepared information you can review. Most bookstores have a fairly hefty real estate book section these days. Many current real estate books have at least a section on lease options.