Field Guide to Lease-Option Purchases
(Updated April 2016)
Lease-option agreements* are common when acquiring personal property—such as dishwashers, washing machines, automobiles, and TVs—but are not as common for the acquisition of real property. Lease-option agreements are generally utilized in residential real estate acquisition when a home buyer would like to purchase a home, but needs to repair her credit rating in order to secure a promissory note and mortgage. The lease-option agreement allows a buyer to lease a property for a set period of time—typically between 1-3 years—with the option to buy the property at a contractual future date. “The negotiated option is typically a percentage of the price for example, one to five percent, and is credited, along with the rents and a rent premium, to the purchase price if the lessee buys the property. If the option to buy is not exercised, the buyer will lose the option fee and rent premium.” (Real Estate Law (link is external), p. 227). Read the articles below to learn more about this alternative real estate financing option. (H. Hester, Information and Digitization Specialist)
*Also known as lease-to-own, rent-to-own, lease/purchase, lease with an option to purchase, or real options.
E – EBSCO articles available for NAR members only. Password can be found on the EBSCO Access Information page.
Lease to Own: The Basics
Is rent-to-own the future of housing? (link is external), (HousingWire, Jan. 14, 2016).
Investors Bank on Rent-to-Own Comeback (REALTOR® Magazine, July 29, 2015).
How do Lease Purchase Agreements Work? (link is external) (SFGate, n.d.).
How Do I Get a List of Rent to Own Homes? (link is external) (realtor.com®, July 25, 2012).
How Do I Find A Rent To Own Home In Bristol, Pennsylvania? (link is external) (realtor.com®, May 10, 2012).
How Do I Find A Realtor To Explain The Rent To Own Option? (link is external) (realtor.com®, Apr. 6, 2012).
Lease-to-Own Contracts (link is external), (UCLA School of Law, 2012).
Lease options are back: proceed carefully (link is external), (Realty Times, Oct. 25, 2011).
Sale-Leaseback Transactions: Price Premiums and Market Efficiency (link is external), (Journal of Real Estate Research, Apr.-June 2010). E
Informal Homeownership in the United States and the Law (link is external), see page 132. (University of Texas School of Law, 2010).
How lease-options benefit sellers, buyers … and their REALTORS®? (link is external), (CRE Online, n.d.).
Thought about lease-to-own transactions?, (REALTOR® Magazine – Speaking of Real Estate blog, Aug. 6, 2009).
Renting to Own (link is external), (realtor.com®, n.d.)
Case Studies & Examples
A Valuation Framework for Rent-to-Own Housing Contracts (link is external), (The Appraisal Journal, Summer 2014). E
Lease-to-own deals offer options in sluggish Tampa Bay housing market (link is external), (St. Petersburg Times, Oct. 23, 2011).
Can I get a lease option with bad credit? (link is external), (realtor.com®, May 5, 2011).
A Growing Housing Imbalance (link is external), (Mortgage Banking, Oct. 2011). E
Raising Capital Through Sale-Leasebacks (link is external), (Public Management, June 2010). E
Individual Taxation Developments (link is external), (The Tax Adviser, Mar. 2012). E
Comparing Accounting and Taxation for Leases: Certified Public Accountant (link is external), (The CPA Journal, Apr. 2009). E
Tax Considerations for Buying and Selling Property with a Burdensome Lease (link is external), (Journal of Accountancy, 2009). E
Government Publications & Programs
State Agency Lease/Purchase Program (link is external), (Washington State Treasurer’s Office, n.d.).
Recent State Agency Lease/Purchase Interest Rates – Real Estate Only (link is external) (Washington State Treasurer’s Office, n.d.).
Definition from Washington State:
“Lease/Purchase Obligations (Real Estate) — Lease/purchase obligations are contracts entered into by the state which provide for the use and purchase of real or personal property, and provide for payment by the state over a term of more than one year. For reference, see RCW chapter 39.94 “Financing Contracts.” Lease/purchase obligations are one type of lease-development alternative.” (Financial Budget Instructions Glossary of Terms (link is external), Washington State Office of Financial Management, n.d.).
Non-Mortgage Alternatives to RE Financing (link is external) from Reference Book – A Real Estate Guide (link is external), (California Department of Real Estate, 2010).
LFC Hearing Brief (link is external), (New Mexico Legislative Finance Committee, Dec. 2007).
Instructions for the Lease/Purchase Analysis Modeling Tool (link is external), (Idaho State Leasing Dept. of Administration, n.d.).
eBooks & Other Resources
The following eBooks and digital audiobooks are available to NAR members:
Smart Guide to Real Estate: Step by Step Rent to Own, (Kindle and ePub)
Investing in Rent-to-Own Property, 2010 (ePub)
Books, Videos, Research Reports & More
The resources below are available for loan through Information Services. Up to three books, tapes, CDs and/or DVDs can be borrowed for 30 days from the Library for a nominal fee of $10. Call Information Services at 800-874-6500 for assistance.
Who Says You Can’t Buy a Home! (link is external) HG 2040.5 R25w (2006).
Field Guides & More
These field guides and other resources in the Virtual Library may also be of interest:
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The inclusion of links on this field guide does not imply endorsement by the National Association of REALTORS®. NAR makes no representations about whether the content of any external sites which may be linked in this field guide complies with state or federal laws or regulations or with applicable NAR policies. These links are provided for your convenience only and you rely on them at your own risk.