What sort of down payments do most people have?
We try to get between $2k and $3k as a lease option fee - more if we can. This is where we make our money so our goal is to get a much as possible. Also, the more we get as a down payment, the more stable the tenant is for you, so it benefits us both.
What is the number of people who walk away from the house when the lease is over (either because they are unable to get regular financing or decide the no longer want the home.)
Less than 30% of lease option buyers will exercise the option. So it is likely that they will not buy it at the end. But there are some real benefits -
If the person walks away from the lease what becomes of their down payment?
It is non-refundable to the buyer. When they end their lease, we would be happy to help you fill the property again - we have a very active and growing list of buyers.
Who is responsible for upkeep and maintenance on the home?
This is all the responsibility of the buyers.
Since the home has a mortgage are there any problems with leasing that would cause the "Due on sale" clause of the mortgage to be invoked by the lender?
No, a lender would see this as a lease, not a transfer of ownership.
Because it's a lease, does the person leasing the home get the homestead exemption or would it be treated like a rental property, and if so, at what point would the taxes would go up without that exemption.
It would be treated like a rental property so eventually the exemptions would be removed and the taxes would go up.
But - you also get the benefits of owning rental property. I know that some people think owning rental property is nuts, but I own a lot of rental property and I know how easy it is to handle if you set it up right.
You will get several financial benefits from keeping your property and selling it as a lease option:
There are also some negatives to consider:
The downside is that taking on tenant buyers, in my opinion, is much smaller than the upside - especially if the alternative is a vacant house. We know that in a good market, 33% of all properties listed for sale on the MLS do NOT sell. Right now, that percentage is much higher. We also know they will not sell for more than market value and that the cost to sell with a Realtor will run you about 10% after commissions, closing costs, repairs, and negotiation. For many people who are close to market value on their mortgage, this cost just isn't possible.
How do buyers get financing when it's time to exercise their option?
They go to any conventional lender and apply for a loan. The reason they are buying "Rent To Buy" right now is because they do not qualify for a conventional loan. Since 2007, conventional loans have become much harder to qualify for - ask any mortgage broker. That is why so many properties that are for sale by real estate brokers don't sell. Buyers just can't get loans without almost perfect credit. Appraisals have also been a problem recently, so even if the Buyer qualifies, if the appraisal doesn't come in, they won't be able to finance it.
Our goal is to help good, responsible people get into a home. People who will take care of it and treat it like their own. We've had good luck finding just that over the years.
If the Buyer exercises the option, that's great and you make your money. If they don't, the advantages of having someone pay your mortgage and buy a house for you are enormous.
I believe that selling the property as a lease option is the solution that is the least painful. In fact, it may end up being the best financial decision you ever make.
I hope these answers give you a better idea of how this all works and helps you decide if it is for you or not.