Thursday, February 19, 2009

Atlanta Company’s Unique Lease-Purchase Option Offers Hope for Metro Atlanta Families

Foreclosures are at an all time high. The state of Georgia again ranked in the top 10 for 2008 foreclosure rates, placing eighth. Metro Atlanta ranked 17th highest for foreclosure rates among major U.S. cities, according to the Realty Trac 2008 U.S. Foreclosure Market Report published last month. Media coverage abounds about the housing and mortgage markets.

Families, however, still need a place to call home. One Atlanta company, Pride of Ownership Partners, understands the financial challenges of those families who live from paycheck to paycheck. With the current economy, family budgets are often stretched to the limit and the idea of coming up with several thousand dollars’ down payment for a house is all but impossible to achieve.

The lease to own program developed by Pride of Ownership Partners makes it possible to live in a home, have its maintenance covered during the lease period, and get half the monthly rent set aside for up to three years to put toward buying that home. At the end of the lease period, renters will have thousands saved toward purchasing that home and can generally go to the closing without their checkbooks. Pride actually allows the full three-year rent credit at any time during the lease that the tenant qualifies for a mortgage and purchases the home. In addition, the price of the home is locked in at the time the lease is signed to avoid any unpleasant surprises later. Any increase in the home’s appraised value during the up to three-year leasing period will mean instant equity in the property.

People with credit issues are also candidates for this lease-purchase program and the company will work with such renters to clean up past credit issues and improve their credit rating before the home purchase. The initial cost of participating in the credit repair program is $95 and Pride of Ownership reimburses the tenant the cost of credit repair when they buy their home.

“When I try to explain our lease-purcha se concept to people, I usually hear, first thing, ‘What’s the catch?’ We’ve tried to develop a program that will serve as an option for people who thought they had no options, even when credit is an issue,” said Chief Operating Officer Timothy Cabrera. “This is a lease option, not a lease commitment. We’re not asking for money up front, other than the standard one month’s security deposit and first month’s rent. Many other lease-purchase companies can require thousands of dollars to get into their programs.”

Pride of Ownership Partners buys homes in good shape, usually seven years old or newer, puts in new appliances, new carpet, paint, landscaping, etc. and then leases the home out with the option to buy. Home prices are typically in the low to mid $100s and the homes are in like-new condition at the time of move in. Furthermore monthly rentals are typically from $1000 to $1300 per month. Properties have been purchased in DeKalb, Gwinnett, Cobb and Henry counties, with the firm looking to expand the lease-purchase program into other metro Atlanta counties as well.

Cabrera, with his background in finance and mortgage, explained that even people with b ankruptcies or foreclosures can get into the Pride of Ownership lease-purchase program. “That’s because you need at least 24 months beyond a foreclosure to get an FHA loan or a year or more after bankruptcies to get a mortgage. Families will be renting during that time, so not only will they have a place to call home, they will be repairing their credit and earning money for the home’s down payment with half their rent being set aside.”

The Pride of Ownership program is an excellent option for single mothers, those in need of credit rehabilitation and families who are finding it impossible to save for a down payment. The Atlanta-based firm began this project in mid 2008 and expects to grow to assisting 50 families a month by the end of 2009. For more information on the company, to read testimonials from those who have already gone through the program, to see photos of actual homes used in this program or to submit a free, online application, visit the firm’s website at www.prideownership.com or call 770-484-8317.
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