Mortgages & Creative Financing

The Lease Option: How I Creatively Structured a Deal With Very Little Down

Expertise: Mortgages & Creative Financing, Personal Development, Real Estate News & Commentary, Real Estate Investing Basics
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Recently, I had a friend who came to me looking to sell her property because she is an out-of-state investor who just didn't want to deal with the property anymore. I could have simply listed the property for sale for her as an agent; however, I knew that she bought this property almost about two years ago at a price that was slightly above market value at the time. Given today's market value, it would be difficult to sell her property at a higher price, and I thought at best it would hit the price that she purchased the property at, which was $65,000.

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Now, the reason the property was purchased at an above market value was the fact that she bought it OWC, or “owner will carry.” Because she didn’t use traditional financing, she ultimately ended paying a bit more for a chance to leverage her cash. In my opinion, this is probably not the best time to sell the property because the property value hasn’t risen above what she paid. On the other hand, it was a property that she didn’t want to keep anymore, and she did not have enough time to deal with it.

Oh yeah, she purchased this property with 20% down, 6% interest with 30-year amortization, and a five year balloon. So at the end of the five years, she is going to have to pay about $48,300. She put down $13,000 in the beginning.

Figuring Out a Mutually Beneficial Deal

So let's just say I do sell the property at $65,000, with transaction costs running 8% (which ends up being about $5,200) and the loan balance at about $50,600 at this point. She is only going to get back $9,200, which comes out to a loss of about $4,000. If we were to get to the real nitty gritty details, she may have had some extra cash from the 2 years of renting out the property. However, the cash flow isn't that high.

Being a friend and a real estate investor, I wanted to see how I can help each other. While I’m still in the market for buying properties, I’m not terribly excited about buying more rentals unless I get a really good deal or I don’t have to put much money in. Can I take the bet that property values may go up in two or three years? Possibly. The question is, how much am I willing to pay to find out?

Related: 3 Creative Real Estate Deals That Transformed My Business

After some thinking, I asked her, "Why don't I buy the property?" But in order to make this purchase work for me, I only wanted to put about $2,500 down. I didn't want to spend too much more. So, I asked whether or not she was willing to finance me $62,500 to purchase the property. It made more sense for her because 1) I wouldn't have to charge her commission so she could save about 6% there, 2) it would be a quick sale because she wouldn't have to put it on the market, and 3) she could make money on the to loan me. After a bit, she agreed.

However, the transaction got a bit tricky because I wanted to do a AITD (all-inclusive trust deed) in which my mortgage would wrap around the other mortgage. Now, this can usually be done easily without the banks minding if the loan came from regular banks. Since most mortgages are packaged up anyway, they won't really care as long as the mortgage gets paid. However, the due-on-sale clause, which allows the bank to call the loan due in case they find out the deed has changed, was in effect for this loan as well. In other words, the original seller who owned the note might just call it in if they find out that I bought the property from her AITD, which was not in my intention.

Related: The Pros and Cons of a Seller Financed Deal for Seller and Buyer

The Lease Option Agreement

Rather than be at the mercy of the original seller, I decided to write up a lease option agreement instead. A lease option agreement will not cause a title change until it comes to the time I buy the property. So the way we structured the deal was that in the lease agreement, I agreed to buy the property at $65,000 in two years, with my initial option at $2,500, which goes toward my principal. The lease terms are: monthly payment of her debt plus the interest from the down payment I borrowed from her plus the rest of the costs of ownership, i.e. insurance, taxes etc. — and I also have the right to sublease.

That way, the title doesn’t change until the end of the two year mark, when I’m supposed to buy it from her. By then, I should have a pretty clear idea whether I want to keep the property or sell it. If I call it right and prices go up, I stand to make a decent bit for a very low down payment. If I am wrong and the prices don’t go up, I’ll just have to try to renegotiate with the original note holder or pay the balance and keep the property. But in the meantime, I’ll hopefully have a renter in there to keep my cash flow close to even.

There are many ways to buy and sell a property. Sometimes it’s all about getting creative.

How about you? Have you done some creative deals in the past as well?

Let’s discuss in the comments section below!

Leon Yang is an active real estate investor in Las Vegas. He is a buy and hold guy who also likes to flip from time to time. His main passion is to t...
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    Brandon Stevens Investor from Lexington, Kentucky
    Replied about 5 years ago
    Great post buddy, the beauty of real estimate and why many of us love it so much is the art of the deal. Most investors have no problem with someone else making a little money, and usually in general want everyone involved to make money. The deal doesn’t always work out like that but at least in our group of investors there is no hard feelings, we know what we need for it to be worth it and if its not there we move on, if it is and everyone can make some money great! There are so many ways to “make deals” I love seeing stories like this. We do a number of little or no money deals that work great for us, we have a hard money guy who gives us the money to buy and repair as long as a local bank agrees to finance it on a 5/20 after we complete repairs. The hard money has to be in for 6 months to make it worth their wild, we find the undervalued property, fix it up, then refinance with the bank after 6 months, if the property is reassessed and shows 20% equity, wahla no money out of pocket. Typically we finish repairs in 30-60 days and the rent covers the interest on the hard money until the 6 months are up. Just a thought for those having trouble getting on the cheap that they might be able to find in their area.
    Michael Williams Investor from Palmetto, Georgia
    Replied about 5 years ago
    Leon, what about the ballon at the end of the 5 year period?
    Assaf Furman Wholesaler from Campbell, California
    Replied about 5 years ago
    Great post. I liked it when you shared your deliberations and layed out the options at hand. I hope it turns to be a good investment even though it’s in Las Vegas 😉 Thanks for sharing!
    Chris Cooper Investor from Mundelein, Illinois
    Replied almost 5 years ago
    Very creative – great insight to the nitty gritty. Thanks for sharing and good luck!
    Kyle Hipp Investor from Appleton, Wisconsin
    Replied almost 5 years ago
    The way the transaction was structured I don’t believe saved you any more trouble than doing a normal land contract or the like. The transaction still triggers the due on sale clause so it doesn’t do much there. It might throw someone off a bit with nothing being recorded most likely. The title doesn’t have to change hands to trigger the due on sale clause, actually any lease 3 years or over even triggers the due on sale clause…
    David Hughes
    Replied almost 5 years ago
    It’s a two year lease, so it wouldn’t trigger the due on sale clause according to a 3-year lease trigger.
    Gregory Hiban Real Estate Agent from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
    Replied almost 5 years ago
    This seems like a lot of effort/headache for a $60K property.
    Gregory Hiban Real Estate Agent from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
    Replied almost 5 years ago
    This seems like a lot of effort/headache for a $60K property.
    Patrick D.
    Replied almost 5 years ago
    While I appreciate your creativity, that sounds like a pretty lousy deal for your friend. She basically relinquished all control over her property (even letting you rent it out). Let’s hope you don’t get hit with one of those tenants that destroy the house. You seem to have experience so it may work out fine but I can think of so many ways this deal goes bad for your friend.
    Sean Williams from Louisville, KY
    Replied almost 5 years ago
    Appreciate you sharing this, always interesting to learn about how people structure their deals and I think lease options are a great “option”. Best of luck!
    Mark Boegemann Investor, trucker from sugar hill, GA
    Replied almost 5 years ago
    Actually I know of a few investors who thrive on these type of deals and do a lot of sandwich leases with or without an option and make money on a positive cash flow from renting and use that to fund there other rei’s. This is what I’m doing im looking for these opportunities while marketing for wholesale deals.
    Frankie Woods Investor from Albuquerque, NM
    Replied over 4 years ago
    Great story and example of creative financing! Thanks for sharing!
    Yasmine Bisumber Realtor/Investor from Miramar, Florida
    Replied over 4 years ago
    Found this one interesting, creative real estate/financing makes the game more fun. So many way to go about it, thanks for sharing.
    Kim Bacon National Contract Coordinator from Lawrenceville, Georgia
    Replied about 4 years ago
    i FOUND A PROPERTY i WANT TO GET THE SELLER IS VERY MOTIVATED AND HAS MOVED OUT AND NOW HAS 2 MORTGAGES THE NEW HOUSE HE MOVED TO AND THE ONE I want to get.He is advertising a Lease Purchase for 1 year payments at 1200 month nothing goes to the purchase and 5000 down .I was thinking a subject 2 would be a good way to get this house so I would not be throwing away 1200 a month. I have never did a subject to contract before so how would you structure this or any suggestions?
    Tayler Franklin
    Replied almost 2 years ago
    These master lease-to-own deals sound like exactly my jam. Only problem is that I have zero idea how to find one….