Lease to own: A new program for first time home buyers in Portland

(KPTV)

In Portland's booming real estate market, bidding wars and cash buyers can make it tough for first time home buyers to compete. But, a new program is now trying to help those buyers break into the market.

The Home Partners of America's new Ownership Conversion Pilot Program is essentially a new twist on the old lease to own program.

Home Partners tells FOX 12 applicants can choose from any home on the market $650,000 or less that's right for them and also meets their criteria. Households must make at least $50,000 a year to qualify for the program.

"I'm a huge fan of the program," Licensed Broker Jeanie Williams of Berkshire Hathaway Home Services said. "I meet a lot of buyers who aren't ready to buy, usually there are credit issues and this opens the doors for them."

Williams says once a client is approved for the program a purchase price is established.

"It's based on property taxes, HOA's, things like that. So we look at the price point, what they want and then go out searching like any other buyer and agent," Williams said.

Home Partners will then buy the home and lease it to an applicant with pre-determined rent. That rent will increase annually but at a set rate tenants agree on. The company will then provide a tenant with the right to purchase the home down the road at a preset price.

The Home Partners of America's pilot program is so new many tenants rights organizations in Portland did not want to weigh in on this story. The Portland Housing Bureau also declined to comment.

"There's a lot of first time home buyers who are not prepared to purchase today, perhaps they don't have the down payment funds that are necessary, or maybe financial circumstances does not deem them ready, this will serve those consumers in the market," Ayoub Rabah, Senior VP of Marketing for Home Partners of America said.

Rabah tells FOX 12 the company's pilot program was first tested out in Texas but has since expanded to 40-plus real estate markets across the country.

He says his company is particularly interested in Portland because of the demand for housing.

"We're very excited about the housing market in Portland, there's a lot of opportunity and need," Rebah added.

For Melody Oxford and her family of four, the program seems to be a good fit. It made it possible for her to get into a home in southeast Portland.

"They really just made the dream become more of a reality for us," Oxford said.

She's hoping to purchase the home by the end of this year.

"To be able to get into a home that it would take you years to do, to come home to it every day, it's a reminder why we're going to work, what we're working for," Oxford said.

For more information about the pilot program visit: www.homepartners.com/

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