working class blog: Cleaning Up the Lease Option Mess in Working-Class Housing

Home ownership may be the most iconic emblem of economic stability for American families, but the pursuit of that goal has drawn too many working-class families into the deceptive agreements knows as “lease option purchase contracts.” To understand the impact of these contracts, visit Youngstown’s South Side, as organizers with the ACORN Home Savers Campaign have been doing, talking with …

States Acting to Protect Buyers of Seller-Financed Homes

by Matthew Goldstein, NYT


Legislators in three Midwestern states are taking steps to protect consumers who buy cheap and often rundown homes from investors through seller-financed deals or rent-to-own leases.

The legislative initiatives in Ohio, Illinois and Michigan come as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau continues to investigate the activities of some of the larger firms in the seller-financing home business.

Sales of rundown homes on long-term installment contracts — sometimes called contracts for deeds or land contracts — to people who could not qualify for a traditional mortgage are surging in several states, especially in the Midwest.


Continues on at NYT


Lawyers: Wayne County should halt tax auction

Lawyers for community groups and residents hoping to block the sale of hundreds of tax foreclosed homes this fall argued their case to the state’s Court of Appeals on Tuesday. Detroit homeowners, joined by the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan and the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, filed the lawsuit more than a year ago against the city …


Thinking about how we could use an extension or an app like Rentlogic to help contract-to-deed, land contract purchaser, rent-to-owners could use in order to vet the different companies they sign with!

Rentlogic, a startup trying to give renters the real story about their apartments, has recently released a browser extension that tells renters the grade–A, B, C, or F–of the building they’re looking at. That building on the Upper West Side, for instance, gets an F because of the number of violations verified by New York City inspectors that have accumulated over the years. The extension works across every major rental listings site in New York City.

“The idea of creating this plugin is that we don’t really care where you find your apartment, if you go on StreetEasy, Craigslist, Zillow, or if you just call a broker, we just want you to look up the rating before you sign the lease,” says Yale Fox, the company’s founder and CEO.

Source: Rentlogic

Wall Street, America’s New Landlord, Kicks Tenants to the Curb – Bloomberg

The 44-year-old father of two had rented a single-family house from a company called HavenBrook Homes, which is controlled by one of the world’s biggest money managers, Pacific Investment Management Co. Here in Fulton County, Georgia, such large institutional investors are up to twice as likely to file eviction notices as smaller owners, according to a new Atlanta Federal Reserve study. “I’ve never …

Single-Family Landlords Are Sinking Cash Into Rust Belt Rentals – Bloomberg

Detroit isn’t the only old industrial city attracting rental landlords at a record clip. Last year, investors accounted for 75 percent of sales in Flint, Michigan, 68 percent in Gary, Indiana, and 51 percent in Memphis, Tennessee. Other cities with comparable rates are vacation communities such as Myrtle Beach, South Carolina (69 percent) and Honolulu (54 percent). With investors dominating these housing markets, it’s …

Private Equity: The New Neighborhood Loan Sharks Veterans of the Contract Buyers League hit the doors again.

Contract for What? A contract is shorthand for “contract for deed,” also advertised as “rent to buy,” “seller financing,” or “installment land contracts.”  These are not inherently predatory, as any northern Midwesterner will tell you. Land contracts are common ways to finance real estate, especially in rural areas without many banks. In 2009, the last year such data was collected, …

Texas firm accused of preying on black homebuyers

The suit, filed in U.S. District Court, includes 17 plaintiffs, who say they were misled by Harbour Portfolio and associated companies into thinking they were becoming owners when they signed agreements that effectively made them renters. Harbour targeted black areas with the deals, known as “contracts for deed” or “land contracts,” which gave the plaintiffs “all of the obligations of …