Test-drive a home: A new path to home ownership



Buying a home requires a lot of homework.

Before even choosing a home, prospective buyers should determine a comfortable monthly mortgage payment and create a wish list of features they want.

Buyers should ask themselves a dizzying list of questions: What features do I want, and what features do I not want in a home? What neighborhood most appeals to me and the lifestyle I enjoy? What amenities are important to me that need to be within close proximity to the home?

Any buyer’s wish list can be limitless, but the biggest obstacle many potential homebuyers face revolves around the simple idea of economics: Can I afford it now?

Jason Waugh, the president and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Northwest Real Estate says the three primary barriers to home ownership for many folks since the severe market correction of 2008-2011 are lack of inventory, credit-related issues, and the stricter qualification criteria of today’s regulatory climate. They may see a home they like, but they’re not always ready or able to commit to a 30-year mortgage quite yet.Loving couple looking at their dream house

“But what if you gave folks the chance to ‘test drive’ a home before deciding to buy?” he asks.

To test out this theory, Berkshire Hathaway has endorsed the Chicago-based organization Home Partners of America (HPA), which, for the last two years, has bought homes for prospective homebuyers who cannot do so, or are still undecided about taking on a mortgage.

Here’s how it works. Once a potential homebuyer is lender-approved and chooses a home, HPA buys that home—with cash—and then rents the property to the homeowner for as long as five years.

Waugh says this gives the potential homebuyer the chance to test a home out while deciding whether the home is a good fit.

Each of those five years will be broken down into consecutive one-year leases, he says. “You have the opportunity to rent at a fixed price for five years, and for each of those years you’ll know exactly what you’ll be paying in rent, and what the purchase price will be during each of those five years should you exercise the right to buy.”

By enrolling in HPA’s program, potential homebuyers can pay rent in the home they want, while simultaneously saving for that home’s down payment.

And if those homebuyers change their minds? Waugh says they can simply walk away at the end of any of the one-year lease terms for whatever reason, just like a traditional rental agreement.

Right now, the program is still in its infancy, but Waugh says it provides an alternative and less burdensome path to home ownership for many qualifying buyers—especially those who are having a hard time coming up with the cash for that initial down payment, are repairing credit, or don’t want to commit to a mortgage because they just relocated to the area and are unsure about where they want to live.


Interested in home ownership, but can’t get financing? Or do you prefer to rent a little longer?

A lease with a right to purchase program may be a good option for you. We’ve teamed up with Home Partners of America (HPA) to help you get into the home of your dreams without having to qualify for more than a rent payment.Turn your rent into mortgage

You choose a home in the Portland metro area, and we work with Home Partners of America to purchase the home.

HPA buys it and leases the home to you on a one year lease with a guaranteed purchase price. You have the option to buy or renew the lease, taking up to five years to get financing and complete the purchase — all while enjoying your new home.

Qualifying single family homes must be in approved school districts, be priced between $100,000 and $550,000 and meet certain eligibility criteria to qualify. Ask a Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Northwest Real Estate professional for details or use the Home Partners Address Checker to see if a home not listed on the website is in an approved area.

Review this list of frequently asked questions and apply online at www.HomePartners.com.

©2016 BHH Affiliates, LLC. An independently operated subsidiary of HomeServices of America, Inc., a Berkshire Hathaway affiliate, and a franchisee of BHH Affiliates, LLC. Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices and the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices symbol are registered service marks of HomeServices of America, Inc. Equal Housing Opportunity.