LITHIA, Fla. - If you're in the market for a home, whether you're trying to rent or buy, you know how tough it is to find a place.
The inventory of available houses is extremely low, and not everyone has enough cash or credit to buy. But there's a program fairly new to the Tampa Bay area that can help.
Debbie Rogers and her family moved to Lithia last summer and were renting a place. The house wasn't ideal, but they also weren't ready to buy.
"We had some financial things that we were trying to take care of before we really wanted to commit to buying again," Rogers said.
They went to local real estate agent Sarah Meyers, hoping she could find them a new rental. But in the hot rental market, options were slim. So she introduced the family to Home Partners of America.
"Honestly, at first, I was thinking this was too good to be true!" Rogers said.
Home Partners of America offers a lease with the right to purchase program. Families like the Rogers' get to pick a realtor, and go house shopping, for any home listed for sale in the price range they qualify for.
"We'll purchase the home as a cash buyer, so we're able to compete in the marketplace," said Ayoub Rabah, Home Partners of America Sr. vice president of marketing.
The homes they buy also have to meet safe housing criteria and be located in an area with A-rated schools.
"We just want to buy a good quality home. We don't want to buy the investor special. We want a house that people want to make into a home," said Rabah.
Home Partners of America inspects the house, and like a landlord, will fix any issues while it's being leased. And at any time during the lease period, the renter can opt to buy the house with a bonus.
"Now you have the chance to start saving some money every month, plus you know that security deposit is going to be part of your down payment," said Sarah Meyers, Century 21 realtor.
After six months, Debbie Rogers and her family decided their house was perfect for them. They got a VA loan, and bought it in December, and needed almost no money to close.
"We love our home. We're glad to be here!" said Rogers.
Home Partners has worked with more than 200 families in Tampa Bay since the end of 2014. You only need a household income of $50,000 to qualify, among other eligibility requirements. If you'd like to learn more, or want to apply, head to homepartners.com. You can also call agent Sarah Meyers at 844-565-HOME (4663).