Pair works to provide a housing solution

If the words negative outlook and "housing slump" have made you hesitant about home ownership, John DiNuzzo and real-estate agent Sonya Prince, said they have what it takes to make a bleak situation brighter.

DiNuzzo, a residential and commercial loan officer with Capital Region Funding, said he began to see the need for lease-with-option-to-buy housing when he noticed several of his clients were having trouble securing a mortgage. He came up with a way to bring home ownership to people who might not otherwise be able to take out a mortgage on a house: allow them to lease the house for 24 months and prove to the mortgage company that they are able to make complete, on-time payments, and when the two years are up, they are eligible to take out a mortgage on the home they've already living in.

DiNuzzo, who operates his lease-with-option business out of his home in Latham, said a few years ago, that type of business would have no market, but now, at a time when the economy is in a slump, people are beginning to seek other options. While DiNuzzo said his business does not bring in a lot of money, the demand for lease-with-option-to-buy homes is on the rise.

"This is now evolving," he said. "As the economy starts getting a little more difficult, people are starting to call us more and more."

The homes being leased with the option to buy can be found throughout the Capital District.

In order to lease out the property, DiNuzzo said he personally leases the property and assigns the lease to the tenant. Once the tenant is placed in the house, which is 2.5 percent to 3 percent of the option price of the home, is charged at the beginning of the lease.

DiNuzzo and Prince then retain one-third of this fee, while the person who referred the house, or the owner, receives another third and the person who finds the house receives the last third.

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