I’ve written before about the difference between rent to own and a lease option and frankly – up until now – I was not a big fan of either one because neither generally benefit the buyer/renter very much. Then I discovered Home Partners of America.
So the backstory is, I have been searching for a home to rent myself. I know – it sounds like sacrilege in my industry as a real estate agent to RENT and not BUY right? Well my reasons are several: I’m ready to put my existing home on the market and cash in my equity there while the market is strong and find something bigger. But I’d been searching rentals and couldn’t find anything that would allow Siberian Huskies – and some rentals considered them an aggressive breed. Lord knows I am not getting rid of my angel. I also wanted to rent for awhile because I’m not quite sure where I want to buy next – maybe on the water, maybe build – I don’t know – but I haven’t seen anything I like and I’ve been searching for awhile.
As I was scanning rentals – I noticed one advertised through Home Partners of America. But then I got confused – the house was actually for sale. After speaking with the agent, he told me about Home Partners of America and about the way it works. Home Partners of America would actually BUY the home, and lease it back to me, with an option to purchase it within 5 years if I so desired. Sounded too good to be true, especially with their extremely relaxed pet policy.
So, I researched the heck out of Home Partners of America, and the truth is – it’s a good program. And I’m doing it myself. I have an 800+ credit score and plenty of money to buy a home if I wanted to, but the truth is, sometimes you don’t want to lock in to buy something if you are not sure of the market, or the neighborhood, or whatever other factor may be affecting your decision. That was the case for me. I move into my new rental with option to purchase at the end of October.
Prospective Residents Who May Be Right for this Program:
• First-time homebuyers who are cautious about buying a home now, but want to be able to purchase a home in the future
• Potential homeowners who recently relocated and are unsure which neighborhood to live in
• Potential homeowners who cannot obtain a mortgage, but who want to live in a community with great schools
Benefits for Approved Prospective Residents:
Transparency: Upon entering this program, prospective residents are given the monthly lease and purchase price information each year for up to five years*, so they can plan for the future.
Choices: Home Partners provides access to the MLS listings in the communities we serve, expanding prospective residents’ selection to all qualifying homes for sale.
Value: Home Partners uses our skill to purchase the home the prospective residents want, providing them with an affordable lease and a pre-set purchase price each year for up to five years*. Also, there are no hidden fees or non-refundable deposits.
Control and Flexibility: Prospective residents have the right to purchase the home at any time during their residency, at the pre-set price. If the home value appreciates above this price each year, they realize a financial benefit. If the value of the home declines, they can choose not to renew their lease and walk away without penalty.
HOW IT WORKS:
Apply at HomePartners.com
• Prospective residents start the process by filling out a Pre-Qualification Application that checks key issues. If the Pre-Qualification Application is approved, the applicant will be required to submit a Full Application for a full credit and background check. If a Full Application is approved, Home Partners will outline the maximum Monthly Rent of the home for
which the prospective resident qualifies.
Find a Home Partners qualified home
• Prospective residents will work with a REALTOR® (that’s me!) to find a Home Partners qualified home.
• Once a home is identified and approved by Home Partners, Home Partners will attempt to purchase the home- the outcome of which will depend on certain conditions being met such as agreeing on a purchase price with the seller, a satisfactory inspection, attorney review of the purchase contract, and other closing conditions being satisfied.
Home Partners purchases the qualified home
• Once Home Partners’ offer for the home is accepted by the seller, prospective residents will be required to sign a one year Lease for the home as well as a Right to Purchase Agreement.
Right to Purchase
• The resident has the right to purchase the home at any time during their residency at the pre-set purchase price. If the resident chooses not to renew the lease, they can walk away without penalty
To get started, simply visit Home Partners of America and search the homes on their website and Apply for Approval and you’ll find out within 1-3 business days how much rent you qualify for so you know which homes could work for you.
Here are some FAQ’s from the Home Partners of America website that explain a bit more about the program:
1. What is the Lease with a Right to Purchase Program?
Our Lease with a Right to Purchase Program (the “RTP Program”) allows you to find a home that you want to rent from us initially, but who may also like to buy at any time within the next three to five years.
We believe that there are many households who may be thinking about buying a home but for whatever reason would like to rent at the current time.
You can lease the home for up to three to five years, depending on the state, and you may purchase the home from us at any time at a predetermined price in accordance with the Right to Purchase agreement.
2. Who is eligible for the RTP Program?
We have certain minimum criteria for our program. Your household must have an annual income of $50,000. You must have stable employment. We cannot accept you into our program if you or anyone in your household has a history of eviction or a pending bankruptcy. Everyone in your household will be subject to a criminal background check.
3. How do I apply to the RTP Program?
Every member of your household who is 18 years of age or older must complete the Pre-Qualification Application and the Full Application. The Full Application requires certain information, including residence and employment history, for each member of the household. You also must provide income verification for each member of the household whose income is to be considered in determining the rent approval amount in order for your application to be considered complete.If you are moving from a different state or starting a new job, we will need confirmation of your new job and income.
We take several factors into consideration when reviewing an application, which include household income, rent-to-income and debt-to-income ratios, rental and housing history, employment history, criminal history, and FICO® scores.
We will usually make a decision on your application within 1 to 3 business days of receiving all required information.
4. How much does it cost to participate in the RTP Program?
We have a one-time Application Fee of $75 per household that must be paid online as part of the application process. This Application Fee covers all applicants in the household and is nonrefundable.
Please note that in California, the Application Fee is $45 if there is only one applicant in the household and $75 if there are two or more applicants in the household.
5. Why might my application be denied?
We take several factors into consideration when reviewing an application, which include household income, rent-to-income, and debt-to-income ratio, rental and housing history, employment history, criminal history, and FICO® score. We consider the profile of the entire household when reviewing an application. If your application is denied, you will receive notification in writing.
6. How do I find a home once I’m approved?
You should work with your REALTOR® to search for homes that meet our purchasing criteria. Generally, this means that the home should be:
1. Located in an approved community (home is displayed on www.homepartners.com and is not adjacent to features that may negatively impair value);
2. Listed for between $100,000 and $450,000 in most states, though exceptions apply;
3. Located on a lot no more than three acres with a minimum of two bedrooms;
4. A single family home or fee-simple townhome; condo associations, condo interests, commercial and multi-family properties are not eligible for the RTP Program;
5. A traditional sale. Short sales, auctions, and REOs are not eligible for the RTP Program;
6. Free from material deficiencies;
7. No guest houses/ in-law suits with separate entrances;
Please note we only purchase homes with swimming pools or other water features in certain states. At the current time, we purchase homes with pools only in the following states: California, Florida, Georgia, Oklahoma and Texas.
Once you have selected a home, the REALTOR® must submit it to us online.
7. Do you own the homes shown on your website?
No. The homes shown on our website are listed for sale in the markets in which we operate. This list of homes automatically feeds into our website from a listing service and is updated on a regular basis. However, we cannot filter for certain criteria such as whether a townhome is or is not fee-simple so there is a possibility that a home shown on our website does not meet our minimum eligibility criteria. The information on available homes shown on our website is for informational purposes only and cannot be guaranteed by Home Partners.
8. Is there a required deposit?
Yes. Generally, we require a deposit equal to two months’ rent. This deposit is not applied towards your rent. If you decide to leave the home at the end of any one-year lease term and you have been in compliance with the terms of the lease and return the home in the same condition it was in when you moved in (normal wear and tear excepted), the full deposit will be returned to you or credited to the purchase price if you buy the home. The full deposit (less any outstanding charges owed to Home Partners) is also returned to you if you exercise your Right to Purchase the home.
9. How long does it take from when I select a home to when I move in?
On average, it takes approximately five to six weeks from the time we enter into a purchase agreement for a home until the day you are able to move in. There are a number of variables that may affect the move-in timeframe, including the length of negotiation with the seller leading up to when we enter into a purchase agreement, what the home inspection reveals with respect to required repairs, and the renovations you request. We will keep you informed throughout the entire purchase and renovation process so that you are aware of this timing.
10. What happens after I move in?
You are our tenant, and we are your landlord. You have entered into a lease with us for one year and are bound to the terms of that agreement. We will collect your monthly rent and perform any necessary repairs that are our responsibility after you move in.
11. Are the monthly rent payments that I make applied to the purchase price of the home?
No. Monthly rent payments are not applied to the purchase price of the home. If you decide to exercise your Right to Purchase, you must pay the full predetermined price as set forth in the Right to Purchase Agreement.
12. How do I exercise my Right to Purchase?
You may notify us at any time that the Lease is in effect that you would like to exercise your Right to Purchase. However, you must provide us with that notice in writing at least 60 days before you want to complete the purchase. Once you notify us that you want to exercise your Right to Purchase, we will contact you to get the process started.
13. Can I buy a home in the middle of a lease term or do I have to wait until the end of the year?
You can exercise your Right to Purchase at any time during your Lease. However, you must provide us with written notice of your intent to exercise at least 60 days before you want the sale to close. In addition, the closing date must occur before the end of the applicable Lease term.
14. Do you provide me with a mortgage or other financing?
We are not a mortgage company and we will not provide or arrange a mortgage loan for you. We cannot guarantee that you will be able to obtain a mortgage loan if and when you wish to exercise the Right to Purchase.
15. Can I have pets in my home?
We do allow up to three pets (cats or dogs) with a max weight limit of 180 pounds total. For dogs, you must not have a Doberman, Pitbull, Rottweiler or Mastiff. We do not allow for other animals such as pigs, horses, chickens, goats, etc. There is a $300 per pet fee in most states. This fee is due with the required deposit and is refundable in the event you purchase the home. Otherwise, it is not refundable.