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New mortgage-underwritin​g criteria took effect Jan. 10 requiring a debt-to-income ratio of less than 43 percent for most qualified mortgages. Even if you don’t qualify for a mortgage under the current lending regulations, renting may not be your only option. Alternatives such as rent-to-own and contract-for-deed transactions make homeownership possible for those who may not meet mortgage-underwritin​g standards.

These transactions have some variations depending on state rules and the contents of the legal agreement, but a rent-to-own or lease-purchase transaction often means the buyer rents from the owner for a set period of time, after which the buyer agrees to purchase the property. In some cases, the tenant might pay extra money each month toward equity in the home. A lease-option agreement gives the lessee the option and not the obligation as with lease-purchase to later buy the property.