House to House: Tips for transforming residential renters into homeowners

This week’s column was written by Sharon Tremor, an associate broker with Meyers Realty in Hot Springs. Tremor serves on the board of directors for the Hot Springs Board of Realtors and on the local Arkansas Realtors Association’s Realtors Political Action Committee, the state Committee for Risk Reduction and the Legislative Committee. She has earned the National Association of Realtors’ CRS (certified residential specialist) and e-PRO designations.

Renters are an overlooked niche market that I recognize personally and market to consistently. If you — as a Realtor — have a market area with both a need and an influx of lower-end rental properties, it is viable to convert many of the nonowner-occupied homes into owner-occupied properties.

With homeownership, buyers can often have a lower payment than their rental payment, enabling upward mobility in society, as well as pride in ownership. The neighbors benefit from renters purchasing property as well by not having to be subject to a greater chance of vacancies and neglect.

Over the years, we’ve had calls come in to the real estate office asking for rental-house information. We consistently reply that we are a sales office and do not handle rentals.

However, the times I have slowed down, turned off my robotic, automatic response and asked pointed questions, I have often had success in getting these callers qualified to purchase a home. In some circumstances, the sellers have carried the note because the rent is income and taxed as such, and the note payment is treated differently. It can be a win-win for both the buyer and the seller.

First-time buyer loan programs such as Addy, FHA (the Federal Housing Administration), MCC (Mortgage Credit Certificate) and RD (Rural Development), are all great tools, considering that a first-time buyer program refers to anyone who has not owned real estate in the past three years.

Being affiliated with lenders who know and use these programs is vital. Most cities offer first-time-buyer seminars, where information on these programs can be attained. You can also contact the ARA’s Little Rock office directly for both information and to apply for a loan directly if the consumer wishes.

Tracking for my own business has shown positive results, with my clients remaining in the homes and/or reselling and purchasing “move-up” housing. Through this process, I have satisfied my own passion for homeownership and being a responsible landlord. I have broadened my past client contacts, as well my sphere of influence and contacts through the people involved that I’ve met along the way.

Niche marketing has been around forever, and it is very effective.

Residential renters are a segment of the market who are true first-time buyers, as well as those who were affected by the downturn in the nation’s real estate market and are just getting past the impact of the housing crash and are ready to buy again.

Sharing information about the historically low interest rates gives these clients a starting point to kiss the landlord goodbye!

House to House is distributed by the Arkansas Realtors Association. For more information about homeownership in Arkansas, visit www.ArkansasRealtors.com.