Home Partners of America launches the Choice Lease program for lower income residents

by Emily Mack

Home Partners of America has launched Choice Lease: a first-of-its-kind program offering below-market rents to qualified applicants. The Chicago-based company, which was acquired by Blackstone Group in 2021, specializes in offering rent-to-own options to potential homeowners. And now, Choice Lease will expand those homeownership opportunities in historically underrepresented communities.

For nearly 10 years, Home Partners has organized rent-to-own plans for those who might otherwise lack the means to purchase a single-family home. Beginning with a prequalification form, Home Partners connects fitting applicants with agents who can help them find the right home. From there, Home Partners makes a cash offer on the home, then sets clients up with a lease and five years of guaranteed rent. From there, residents have time to decide on their purchase.

But the Choice Lease program furthers that mission by expanding housing accessibility, specifically, for low-to-moderate-income residents. Choice Lease is intended for households earning less than 80% of area median income. As such, applicants need an approximate median income of just $55,000 to participate in Choice Lease — far less than the national $93,200 median. Through Choice Lease, Home Partners will offer rental rates about 10% lower than the market rate, and eventually, a home price fairly below the market value.

“During a period in which constrained housing supply has made it extremely difficult to find a desirable home, our Choice Lease program is providing a critical service to many who would not otherwise be able to access the housing market,” Bill Young, the co-founder and CEO of Home Partners of America, said in a press release. “We are grateful that our partners at Blackstone have provided the support needed to implement this initiative, which addresses disparities in homeownership among historically under-represented communities as well as low- and moderate-income consumers.”

In the same press release, advisory board member Dr. Michael Stegman weighed in on the potential benefits of the emerging program. “In an environment of increasing home prices, Choice Lease will meaningfully expand access to affordable, high-quality homes and create a homeownership pipeline for working families and first-time homebuyers by providing below market rents and lower purchase right prices,” he said. Stegman is a former senior policy advisor for housing in the Obama White House at the National Economic Council.

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