ATLANTA, Ga. (CW69 News at 10) — A lease-to-own program in Metro Atlanta is offering a solution to the affordable home crisis and giving local renters a chance at homeownership.

Jo Ann Osbey is beyond excited after moving into a three-bedroom townhome in Stonecrest last month. She’s renting it through a lease-to-own program and plans to buy it within a year.

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“When the pandemic started, I was in an apartment, so I decided to move closer to my daughter,” she said, explaining how she came across Pathway Homes on Facebook and said the company has given her a pathway to the American dream.

“We work with customers who are on the cusp of being almost mortgage-eligible, but are not quite there,” said Iesha Stewart, a Pathway Homes realtor. “The requirements are a 600 credit score and at least $50,000 household income.”

A lot of customers are not quite there, in terms of qualifying for a mortgage loan, and affordable homes in Metro Atlanta are currently hard to come by.

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Stewart said customers who qualify for Pathway’s lease-to-own program pay their first months’ rent and a deposit for the same amount at move-in. Customers can renew the lease each year for up to five years or apply for a mortgage loan at renewal time. There’s also a savings match program.

“Once you exercise your right to purchase, you will need to go through a traditional lender to close on the property,” Stewart said.

Those who oppose the rent-to-own model say too many customers fall behind on rent payments and lose all the money they’ve invested while leasing the property. In addition, the monthly rental payments will likely increase each year, as they often do in tenant/landlord situations.

Steward confirmed customers are told up front what the monthly payments would be for all five years. As always, you should read and understand the terms before signing any agreement.

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Osbey says she was pleased with the transparency of Pathway Homes during the application process, and she looks forward to making the property her permanent home, where she’ll welcome family and friends for years to come.