Brace yourself: this is going to be difficult. As with anything in the real estate industry, you end up thinking you need either a real estate attorney or maybe Superman to wrap his brain around the concept of knowing the difference — between a rent-to-own and a land contract. Not even a kryptonian could honestly figure that one out (which is why you have our rent-to-own consultants helping you out with this one!).
Get interested when a potential seller even mentions this term. It’s an intriguing way for a seller to basically sell the home without giving up the title, basically. You, as the buyer, can purchase the home through contract and essentially pay “rent” (for lack of a better term), and when you’ve paid the entire purchase price for the home, the title to the property’s all yours.
In a way, it’s like leasing a car. You get to drive it. You get to maintain it. You get to go on a road trip clear across the country if you want. But you never get to own it — and that means you can’t sell it or perhaps even upgrade it — until you finish paying it all off. Certain advantages and slight disadvantages there, obviously. You can see why you might want to ask this along with other inquiries about rent-to-own.
The only way I can differentiate on this is that it’s largely dependent on an agreement typically made by the home seller. An offering for a land contract focuses mainly on the entire selling price — whereas a rent-to-own keeps it as a tenant-landlord deal for a specific period of time with an extra portion of each monthly rent going toward a down payment for ownership of the house.
It’s convenient. It’s flexible. And that’s the key. A land contract seals you in for the deal, for the long haul. You can’t back out of it without some form of penalty, because you agreed to basically own the house later on. But a rent-to-own simply offers the option — if you want it (which most of the time you would, provided you negotiate the best of terms for both parties).
Like looking into a mirror or something. But don’t be fooled. A land contract is so different from a rent-to-own that it’s scary. Just be well-informed. Because while you might want to just stick with a full lease on a house and make those payments as if its a mortgage, know that you don’t have a lot of wiggle room….
But a rent-to-own? That’s a whole different story and superhero altogether.
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