Best Listings Websites

Owning a home is a core element of the American dream. It's also a huge financial commitment. For most people, it's the largest purchase they will ever make and the largest debt they will ever take on. That commitment is a serious obstacle to home ownership and for people with low incomes and bad credit, buying a home may simply be out of reach. Many people who are not able to make a conventional home purchase have turned to rent-to-own deals as a viable road to home ownership.

How It Works
In a traditional home purchase, the buyer and seller agree on a price, exchange funds, and then finalize the transaction before the title changes hands. In a rent-to-own agreement, sometimes also called a lease option or lease-to-own, a buyer agrees to lease a house for a set amount of time before exercising an option to purchase it at the end of the lease (or during, depending on the terms). It's an excellent choice for people who want to buy a house, but don't have enough money saved to make the required down payment or for folks who can't easily secure a traditional mortgage.

Best Listings Websites
The rising popularity of these agreements has led to the emergence of dozens of websites that help people looking for such homes find one that's suitable for them. With so many of these websites out there, how can you be sure which one is right for you?

To save you time, we've checked out eight of the top listings sites.

renttoownlistingz.com

"Why rent when you could own?" is the tagline on renttoownlistingz.com, a site that allows you to search for properties by zip code. There's a large search box on the homepage, and you can set up property alerts via email or text, so you are notified whenever a new property that matches your criteria becomes available.

There's also a 'featured homes in your area' section on the homepage and full details available for each listing, including information on the surrounding area, schools, neighborhood, crime rates, etc.

With more than 2 million listings and daily updates, Renttoownlistingz.com says it has the "largest database of homes in the industry."

rent-to-own-listings.net

This site provides much more than just a database containing property listings. You'll also get information and guidance on assistance programs to help you save money and determine how much your payments will contribute to your ownership. You'll need to sign up using your first name, surname and email address to be able to access the listings on rent-to-own-listings.net.

rentaltoownhome.com

Rentaltoownhome.com urges visitors to "stop renting – start owning!" and cites renting to own as a great option for people with bad credit.

You can use the search box located on the homepage without having to sign up first, and the intuitive questions help narrow down properties that are most suitable for you. You need to register an account to view the available listings, but you will have access to instant and neighborhood information.

renttoownlabs.com

The goal of renttoownlabs.com is to "help you find the ideal rent-to-own home." If you're wondering where the website name came from, it's apparently because they had to "experiment with a lot of crazy things" to make the platform as perfect as can be.

A simple search using the field on the main homepage returns a page that allows you to narrow your results by city. There's also an overview of the state you've searched for, which includes information about the area and some of the industries operating there. Unlike most of the other sites in this list, renttoownlabs.com allows you to view listings before signing up, but you'll need to register if you want to get full price information and the contact details of the property owner. Another plus point for this website is a comprehensive guide that takes you through the process step-by-step.

foreclosure.com

Foreclosure.com advertises itself as America's largest provider of distressed properties. The site doesn't solely specialize in rent-to-own listings, but it does have a section dedicated to such listings.

In the rent-to-own section, you can search for properties by city, state or zip code. Even without an account, you can view pictures of the various homes on offer and see pricing information. To see the seller's contact information, you'll need to create a free account.

Foreclosure.com also features a learning center, which includes e-documents and FAQs relating to foreclosure laws, credit improvement strategies and the Foreclosure.com scholarship program.

rentuntilyouown.com

RentUntilYouOwn.com boasts thousands of listings throughout America. Whether you're looking for homes, land, manufactured housing or commercial property, chances are this website has something that's suitable. In addition to the interactive search map found on the homepage, there are a number of additional resources to help guide you through the process.

A nice touch on rentuntilyouown.com is the inclusion of a buyer's FAQ and a list of common rent to own scams. The blog also contains more information to help you get started.

rent-to-own-homelistings.com

Rent-to-own-homelistings.com is a very crisp and concise website that features little more than a large search box on the homepage. It promises to "help you find the residential property you're looking for at a bargain price."

Specializing in foreclosed, bank owned, short sale and HUD properties, rent-to-own-homelistings.com requires you to sign up using your first name, surname, email address and phone number before you can view its listings.

rentown.net

Rentown.net has been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and Forbes, as well as numerous other publications, and calls itself "your one stop rent-to-own resource."

As well as listing rent-to-own properties, rentown.net also has three information sections providing advice for people who are just beginning to explore this route to home ownership.

You can search through the various rent-to-own listings and see photos for free. If you want more details, including pricing information, though, you'll need to register an account.

The Bottom Line
Rent-to-own property agreements are a good financial tool to help you get your foot on the property ladder, even if you don't have enough money saved to make a large down payment. As with every financial decision you make, though, it's important to understand the benefits and pitfalls of these arrangements before you commit to anything. While they can be a good way for you to realize your dream of owning a home, you will still need to work on repairing your credit in the meantime. Otherwise, you might find yourself unable to purchase the property at the end of the lease agreement. There are no magic tricks on the road to home ownership, just techniques you can use to make it easier. You'll still be making that financial commitment, and you'll still need to prepare for it!