Messages on our 800 number frequently request simply to get more details on our program.

I happily respond, also referring them to the website, where there are plenty of details.

So, a recent call of that nature seemed normal. . . at first. She feigned interest in a certain property.

I explained that we can help people who can afford a mortgage but don’t currently qualify under bank rules.

We can help if they have some, but not enough down payment, if they need to rebuild bruised credit, if they need more time to establish an adequate work history, or to pay off some debt.

“But the candidate needs to be ‘within shouting distance’ of getting a mortgage,” I said. All we can do is “buy time” to get them there, and then provide them with a comprehensive program to do so.

Ultimately, they will still have to meet bank qualifications. So, since we do not want set up anyone to fail, we carefully screen applicants, and we only accept them if we are convinced that they will succeed in the end. Of course, the client also has to be convinced of that, and like what we have to offer.

It means, though, that we cannot qualify anyone for a higher amount than the lenders would—that would be setting them up to fail when they need to qualify with the banks.

She kept asking questions to learn more.

So I explained that we do not own any properties (except those that already have rent 2 own clients.) After a client is approved—and that process takes a number of steps: an application, a follow-up call, a formal meeting, the collection of formal documents like those a mortgage broker would, and the signing of a formal working agreement—then we connect the client with our realtor to find a property of their choice, within their qualifying limit.

So the property search comes after the commitment to the program. It means that the client gets to choose their own property, though subject to our approval, that being based on whether it is a good investment for us. (After all, we will be the owners for the duration of the rent-2-own term.)

I explained that we give the clients tremendous freedom during the term of the contract, but also responsibility. We want them to feel a sense of pride in their choice of property; after all, it will be theirs for the long term, with their name on title.

I also explained how we work intensely with the client to help them to reach mortgage qualification standards by the end of the term.

But, I noted, the Lease-option agreement is really a commitment, a contract to close out the deal at the end. If they do not, or cannot, they default on the contract and lose their accumulated credits towards the purchase.

“Fair enough,” says she.

I finished describing other details of the program, to the point that I usually describe them to a potential client only after having received their application. (I certainly did not have one from this caller yet.)

“This is a fabulous program!” she declared when I had finished.

That’s what those of us in our professional association keep hearing, over and over again, when people truly grasp the whole picture.

Then she fessed up: “I’m a realtor and have a lot of clients who might be able to use this service.”

That did not surprise me.

It’s increasingly difficult to qualify for a mortgage. So better and better qualified people are now still falling short.

Realtors find this out—repeatedly–when their clients fail to secure a mortgage on properties they’ve attempted to buy. It’s frustrating for realtors and for their nearly-qualified clients.

That makes rent 2 own an increasingly attractive option to bridge the gap.

Maybe for you, or someone you know.