RISMedia's Real Estate Magazine

JUL 2018

Real Estate magazine is the industry's leading source for real estate news and information since 1980. Published monthly by RISMedia, Real Estate magazine offers timely and relevant real estate news to the industry's top brokers and agents.

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RISMedia's REAL ESTATE July 2018 85 N ot surprisingly, renting skyrocketed in the U.S. in the wake of the housing crisis—and whether it's due to continued financial restrictions, misinformation about options or other reasons, a decade later, a large swath of the population is still choosing to rent. However, many of today's renters would likely opt for homeownership given the proper guidance and the right circumstances—and this is ex- actly where Home Partners of Amer- ica comes in. Founded in 2012 with the ambitious yet simple mission to make homeownership a reality for more people, the Chicago-based firm offers a simple solution to put peo- ple on the path to buying a home. "When the company was formed, we were seeing many creditworthy people who still didn't have access to mortgage credit," says Home Part- ners Senior Vice President Ayoub Rabah. While credit standards were loosening, many were still falling slightly short when it came to quali- fying for a home loan. That's where the Home Partners Lease Purchase Program was born. Through the program, a credit- worthy renter can work with a local real estate agent to identify a home listed for sale, and if the home meets certain eligibility require- ments, they can lease it from Home Partners with the right to purchase. Home Partners buys the house—at which time the agent earns a sales commission—and then rents the home to the tenant. The tenant signs a one-year lease agreement that's renewable for up to four addi- tional one-year periods (an addition- al two years in Texas), and at any point in that timeframe, the renter can buy the home. The price to buy the home is established upfront, as are set annual increases in rent if the lease is renewed—full transpar- ency is a key part of the process. Should the home appreciate in val- ue over the pre-agreed sales price in that timeframe, all the upside goes to the renter turned homebuyer. According to Rabah, the Home Partners program is designed to help turn renters into buyers. "It's not easy being a renter today," he explains. "So many renters sign a lease and love the house, but when they go to renew the lease, the landlord says, 'Sorry, I'm selling the house.' Our program is trying to solve this problem for the consumer by giving them more transparency, more control, more choice and more flexibility." In addition to not being able to satisfy strict mortgage loan crite- ria, would-be homeowners are also stuck in the rental cycle due to a fair degree of post-housing bust caution, as well as a lack of knowledge about unique programs like Home Partners' Lease Purchase Program. These fac- tors and more have contributed to a swelling rental population, and Home Partners believes many of these renters would become homeowners if given just a little more time...and the right options. That's exactly why the Home Part- ners program is experiencing such great success. Working exclusively with real estate professionals to reach consumers, at press time, Home Partners has helped more than 19,500 people (and 9,000- plus pets!) find residence in over 10,000 homes in 40 markets across the country. The firm has formed relationships with an in- creasing roster of A-list real estate firms, including nearly 800 of the Coldwell Banker offices owned by NRT LLC, one of the nation's largest residential real estate brokerages; Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices; and Leading Real Estate Compa- nies of the World®. According to Rabah, NRT LLC Pres- ident and CEO Ryan Gorman was one of the first to really see the vi- sion of the Home Partners program when it was launched in 2012. "We thought Home Partners was a wonderful idea for consumers who might not understand that there was a path to homeownership that may be available to them," says Gorman, but it still took some convincing to get him onboard. "I thought the idea sounded too good to be true. I kept thinking, 'What's the catch?' Home Partners understood my skepticism and I met with the founding team and asked a lot of questions. They were very receptive and actually found our discussion quite helpful in further developing the program. At the end "The Home Partners Program is designed to help turn renters into buyers. It's not easy being a renter today. Our program is trying to solve this problem for the consumer by giving them more transparency, more control, more choice and more flexibility." - AYOUB RABAH Senior Vice President, Home Partners of America

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