Avoid lease-option snafus in home sale

REThink Real Estate

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Q: We wanted to buy a new house a few years ago, and rented our old house out under a lease-option to a young family at our church who wanted to buy but needed to save some money first. They were supposed to buy the place within a year, but then the husband lost his job. He got a new job, and they needed to save up again. They kept coming up with reasons they couldn't buy, but they also kept saying they just needed a few more months. Well, here we are three years later and the property values have dropped by about 40 percent from what they were when they signed the lease-option. Now they want to pay a much lower price for it or they won't buy it. We kind of feel trapped and duped by them, like maybe they were stalling just to get a really low price. What can we do now? A: When the market gets tough for sellers, many see a lease-option as a way to get a premium price for a property, or as a means of getting it sold -- period -- at a time when homes are just not selling.The...