For those of you who have read my article What Is Rent to Own, you are already familiar with how the process works.
Below are 5 ways the seller benefits from rent-to-own transactions:
#1. Avoid Insurance Problems
Once a home has been vacant for more than 30 days you are required to purchase a vacant home policy. The insurance premium on a vacant house is always higher than one occupied by the owner. Keep in mind that if something happens on the property, like a break-in or a water leak, your regular homeowner’s policy will not pay a claim. If you think leaving your house vacant is safe, think again! Things go wrong in an empty house!
#2. Avoid Two Mortgage Payments
Can you honestly afford two housing payments? If you move out of your current property you will still have to pay your mortgage, including principal, interest, taxes, and insurance (“PITI”). Some of you may have private mortgage insurance (“PMI”) as well. HOA dues will also have to be paid. Local HOAs have the right to foreclose on a property in the event of delinquent dues. You’re also going to have to pay to live somewhere else. Even if you are conservative enough to have kept your monthly payments low, can your income sustain your expenses being doubled? The seller benefits from rent to own by having their mortgage paid every month.
#3. Avoid Two Sets of Utility Payments
Utilities such as electricity, gas, water, and sewer need to be paid even if the property is vacant. Thinking you’ll just turn the utilities off? Unplugging a fridge is detrimental to the compressor. If you are still going to try to sell or rent the house, how well do you think it will show with all the lights off? Homes become musty and moldy much faster when is closed up with no air circulation. Break-ins occur much more frequently in unoccupied houses. The best way to advertise a property as vacant is to have all the lights off all the time.
#4. Avoid Lawn Care & Maintenance
No one will buy or rent a home that has an overgrown lawn. Also, HOAs and local code enforcement love to give $300 – $500 fines for over grown lawns. The City of Raleigh is notorious for rigorously enforcing these rules with stiff fines. The yard will have to be maintained which will result in landscaping fees. These costs add up very quickly.
If a sufficient amount of money is not put in reserve to maintain the property then sellers frequently become in danger of default. This becomes a vicious cycle: money gets tight so the lawn becomes overgrown which results in fines from the HOA, the city, or both. The home goes into disrepair and becomes unsightly, losing any curb appeal. Potential buyers are turned off by the appearance of the home and will not make an offer on it. I’ve seen dozens of homes go into foreclosure only a few months after becoming vacant. The seller benefits from rent to own by having the property maintained by a tenant-buyer.
#5. Avoid Break-Ins
Break-ins are much more likely to occur in vacant homes than in occupied ones. This happens all too often. I have a close friend that was selling her home and had a robbery occur five days before the scheduled closing. They stole the HVAC unit, the stove, fridge, and removed copper piping from under the house resulting in thousands of dollars worth of damage!
Rather than brooding over the past as to why a house hasn’t sold, we need to focus on the problem at hand and an alternative solution: How to sell the house!