Homestarsearch.com FAQ's

GENERAL

What is HomeStarSearch and how can it help me?

Homestarsearch.com is a leading information resource for the Rent to Own, Lease Option, Lease Purchase and Owner Financing industry. Combining listings from hundreds of different sources and an easy-to-use interface, we're simplifying the housing search process for these unique property types. Traditionally, information about Rent to Own and similar properties have mostly been available through the time consuming and hit-or-miss process of sifting through the MLS, local real estate publications and online classifieds. For example, leading real estate listing sites such as Trulia and Zillow do not allow you to search for Rent to Own homes through an advanced keyword search.

Homestarsearch.com operates an online real estate resource website that, among other things, allows customers to search for information related to Rent to Own, Lease Option, Lease Purchase and Owner Financing properties nationwide via hypertext links to Websites authorized to display real estate information.

Is HomeStarSearch a Real Estate Agent or Broker?

No, we do not broker real estate transactions nor act as a real estate agent for any user and we are not involved with the selling of any properties. We do not own any of the properties listed nor do we represent those who do own the properties listed on HomeStarSearch.com. We act only as an independent search and advertising site for lease option real estate which users can use to search and view available properties.

If you find a property you are interested in, we encourage you to contact the owner or listing agent directly.

How do Rent-to-Own listings get put on HomeStarSearch.com?

There are two ways that listings are added to the HomeStarSearch database: manual submission and data feeds from various leading Real Estate listing providers.

How does the Rent-to-Own process work?

A Rent-to-Own transaction is when a homeowner puts their property up for Rent-to-Own and agrees to lease their home to you, the tenant/buyer, for a predetermined time period (usually one to three years). At the conclusion of this leasing period, you will be given the option to buy the home at a fixed price that was negotiated before you signed the Rent-to-Own agreement.

During the leasing period, you the tenant will pay an agreed-upon rental rate to the owner (usually in monthly intervals) in addition to a separate "rental credit" that is to be applied towards a down payment for the home should the tenant decide to purchase the home and get approved for a mortgage loan. An additional "option fee" is paid by the tenant to the owner (usually between 1%-5% of the property value) for maintaining the right to purchase the home at the beginning of the leasing period; this option fee is also applied as part of the down payment for the home.

The Rent-to-Own option of purchasing a home allows you to try out the home and neighborhood while also giving you ample time to fix your credit and save towards your down payment.

You may decide to leave the deal at anytime for any reason, but the owner will keep any fees paid thus far as collateral. It is for this reason that we encourage anyone considering the Rent-to-Own option for purchasing a home to be fully committed to buying the home during or when the lease period ends.

How do I know if Rent-to-Own is right for me?

It all depends on things like your credit score, financial situation, remaining debt (if any), income and location. Some areas will have more Rent-to-Own properties available than others and each seller will have different requirements and stipulations such as doing background and credit checks. Traditionally, the lease option method has been beneficial for those who need time to repair their credit and save towards a down payment. Ren-to-Own is also a better alternative to straight renting, which has been proven to be more costly in the long run than buying a home.

What if I have bad credit?

That is a question we get a lot. Bad credit does not automatically disqualify you like trying to get a mortgage loan from a bank. Just remember, your agreement with an owner can vary and can carry different statutes, so be sure you understand all the requirements before signing on the line. However, you most likely will still need to qualify for a mortgage loan when it comes time to buy, so use the lease period to focus on your credit.

How can I be sure that my credit will be good enough to qualify for financing before my lease is up?

Not to worry because we have partnered with an industry-leading credit repair company to help you understand your credit. We highly recommend that you speak with them for a FREE consultation at 1.888.615.3764 to discuss your current credit status and what steps can be taken to get you back on track. Consulting with a credit repair professionals can give you a better understanding of your current credit situation to give you a realistic outlook as to how long you should consider signing a lease for.

Is enrolling in credit repair a requirement of Rent to Own?

No, enrollment in a credit repair program is not required to view our listings or register with HomeStarSearch. However, we highly recommend that you consider a credit repair program if your credit is a concern so that you are in the best position possible to qualify for a mortgage when it comes time to purchase. HomeStarSearch does not represent any of the sellers on the listings, so if you are unsure of a particular seller's requirements, contact them or their representative directly.

What makes HomeStarSearch different from other real estate resources?

We specialize in the lease option home niche and provide targeted information, tools and resources for Rent-to-Own properties. Rent to Own homes can be difficult to find. We provide a comprehensive central database for these types of homes. We do the hard work so you can concentrate on finding your dream home.

What's the difference between Rent to Own, Lease Option and Lease Purchase?

Rent-to-Own and Lease Option homes are the same thing with two names in which a homeowner leases their home to you, and then you (the tenant) will have the option to purchase the home before or after the leasing period has ended. A Lease Purchase arrangement is similar to the first two, but with the exception of the tenant contractually obligated to purchase the home at the end of the leasing period.

Lease Purchase transactions are similar to Lease Options and Rent to Owns, however, rather than the tenant-buyer having the option to purchase the home, the tenant-buyer may be contractually obligated to purchase the home. For more information on Lease Purchase Agreements Link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lease_purchase_contract

Is Rent-to-Own a new concept in homebuying?

Rent-to-Own property buying has been around for decades, but has gained popularity in recent years because of banks tightening up their mortgage lending requirements due in part to the 2008 housing crisis.

What is rent credit?

A rent credit is an additional charge paid to the owner in conjunction with a regular rental payment that is typically applied towards a down payment for the home. Rent credit amounts can vary among sellers and are usually retained by the seller until the buyer initiates the purchase of the home. An "option fee" is also paid to the owner (about 1%-5% of the property's value) at the beginning of the leasing period for the right to purchase the home once the lease is up. We recommend that you use an escrow account for your rent credit in order to protect your investment in the event the seller defaults.

Who pays the real estate taxes and homeowner's insurance on a Rent-to-Own home?

Real estate taxes and homeowner's insurance are usually the responsibility of the current homeowner until the tenant-buyer completes the home purchase.

Generally, most tenant-buyers are responsible for any repairs and maintenance up to a certain dollar amount, and will cover additional costs that exceed the set amount. Each seller is different in what their expectations are, so check with a seller as to what they would expect you to pay for maintenance during the lease period.

TRIAL

How do I get started?

The website is user-friendly, so you can jump right in! Click here to start searching for a home right away! Full access to seller information will become available to you once you register.

How much is the trial and how long does it last?

The trial period for using HomeStarSearch's home database is only $1.95 for 10 days. The day you sign up is considered the first day and you will have nine subsequent days to access the site. If you do not wish to pay a monthly fee of $58.94 to continue the service and access the listings, you MUST cancel the service before the conclusion of the 10 day trial.

Will I receive an email confirmation after I sign up for the trial?

Yes. As soon as you create your account you will receive a welcome email containing instructions on how to login to the website, your username and password, the terms and conditions of your account, contact information for the customer service department, and a link to the frequently asked questions (FAQs) page to answer any questions you may have initially.

The welcome email will also include a link that takes you directly to the login page and automatically populates your username and password for you to make the login process simple and easy. As soon as you create your account, check your email inbox to ensure you received the welcome email. If you don't see the email in your inbox, check the "spam" folder as well, as it may end up in there. If you do not receive your welcome email or cannot login to the website, contact Member Services immediately at 1.888.262.0830. Member Services is available Monday-Friday from 9am-5pm PST.

How much does the HomeStarSearch monthly service cost?

The cost is $58.94 a month at the end of your trial. If you wish to not continue with our services, cancel your account before the end of the trial period as the monthly fee will kick in automatically and is non-refundable. You can cancel your account by contacting the Member Services Department at 1.888.262.0830 Member Services is available Monday-Friday from 9am-5pm PST.

How do I login to HomeStarSearch.com?

At the top of every webpage on the website, you will find a "Login To Your Account" link on the top right corner. Click the link and you will be taken to the "Member Login" webpage where it will prompt you to enter your username (your email address you registered with) and your password (the phone number you registered with); for your password, only enter the ten digits with no spaces or hyphens (ex. 1234567890). Once you are logged in you can begin your home search!

How do I cancel the trial?

To cancel your trial, please contact the Member Services department at 1.888.262.0830. You will promptly receive a cancellation confirmation email in your email inbox. Member Services is available Monday-Friday from 9am-5pm PST.

How do I contact Member Services?

Member Services is available to assist you at 1.888.262.0830, Monday-Friday from 9am-5pm PST and is closed on the weekends. You can also email us at support@homestarsearch.com.

Can I cancel and still use the service?

Unfortunately, you will no longer have access to seller contact information once you cancel the service. If you are planning on canceling the service, we suggest you print out any listings you are interested in beforehand.

Will I get charged if I don't use the service?

If you do not cancel the service before your trial period is over, you will be automatically charged the monthly member fee. Additionally, if you have an active account, you will continue to be charged every month regardless of how often you use the service until you cancel your account with us.

What forms of payment do you accept?

We only accept active Visa, Mastercard, or Discover. If you do not have one of these cards, you may use a Visa, Mastercard, or Discover prepaid card that can easily be purchased from many convenience stores.

LISTINGS & WEBSITE

I thought the listings were free?

You are able to view listings with basic information for free (a picture, home type, # of baths, # of bedrooms, square feet size, and lot size by entering the city and state or zipcode of an area you are interested in. This is designed to allow people considering Rent-to-Own properties to get an idea of the kinds of listings available in their area. To get full access, including seller contact information, you will need to sign up for the $1.95 10-day trial.

Can I see some of the listings before I sign up?

Yes. You can view basic listing information for free (a picture, home type, # of baths, # of bedrooms, square feet size, lot size, and a brief description of the property from the seller) by entering the city and state or zipcode of an area you are interested in.

Can I search by city, state and zip code?

Yes, you can search within a 10 mile radius of your chosen area.

Do you guarantee that I will find a home?

We make no guarantees about finding homes because we do not own or represent any of the properties listed. We only provide the listings for available properties in addition to other tools and resources to help you through the Rent-to-Own process. We will help you when we can, but you are ultimately responsible for taking the initiative of contacting sellers and deciding which listings are right for you.

If I find a home that I'm interested in, how do I view the property?

First make sure that you are logged into your account. When you find a home that you're interested in, click on the contact details and you will be taken to the original source of the listing. More pictures and information should become available to you, such as whether or not the home is currently occupied. If the home is occupied, contact the present homeowner or their representative directly for further inquiries.

I don't see a monthly price for the home. How do I figure out how much the monthly payment is?

If you view the original source of the home listing, you typically will see the monthly payment in the description. If you do not see the monthly payment there, contact the seller or representative directly to verify the monthly payment.

Why aren't there any interior pictures of the homes?

Our site may only have the main picture available. If you click on the contact information link to visit the original source of the listing, there should be more photos available for you to view. Some listings may not have any interior photos available.

What's the difference between a Rent-to-Own and Foreclosure home?

Foreclosure homes are properties that banks have reclaimed from borrowers who have failed to make their mortgage loan payments. The bank then attempts to sell the home to recuperate their losses on the mortgage loan.

Rent-to-Own homes, on the other hand, are usually owned by sellers who are offering to lease their homes out to prospective tenants with an option to buy the home once the lease is up.

Know more about how foreclosures are different from Rent-to-Own Homes here.

When I enter the city I want to search in, I get an "invalid search" response. Does this mean there are no homes available in that area?

If you are getting an "invalid search" response, the search criteria you're entering is incorrect. Make sure you have spelled the name of the city or town correctly. Also, remember that you can only search with a city and state OR zipcode, but not all three together.

What if there are no listings in my area?

While Rent-to-Own homes have become more popular in recent years, they still only account for a small percentage of the real estate market. If you have additional questions or need help searching for a home, please contact the Member Services department at 1.888.262.0830. Member Services is available to assist you Monday-Friday from 9am-5pm PST.

OTHER

Do they allow pets in Rent-to-Own homes?

Like any living space, it depends on the terms of the homeowner. Some properties will allow pets while others will not, so be sure to check with the owner you are leasing from.

Is it hard to get approved for financing at the end of the leasing term?

If you have had credit trouble in the past, you may have a tougher time getting a mortgage loan over someone with good credit. However, with the addition of FHA financing, there are options for people with less than perfect credit.

What percentage of Rent to Own transactions result in a successful home purchase?

While it is difficult to get substantial data on purchase ratios in the Rent-to-Own real estate industry, purchase rates have been estimated to be below 10%. While there are some tenants who decide not to purchase the home at the end of their lease, the leading reason for the low buy rate is due to most tenant-buyers failing to qualify for mortgage loans by the end of the leasing period. This is precisely why we partner with an industry-leading credit repair firm to help people with credit challenges so that they will be in a better position to purchase when their lease is up. If you have an active account with us and have not received your free credit consultation, please call Member Services at 1.888.262.0830.