About ZeroDown
What is ZeroDown?
How does ZeroDown Work?
What are ZeroDown Purchase Credits?
Is ZeroDown available in my area?
ZeroDown Vs. Other Options
How does ZeroDown compare with renting?
How does ZeroDown compare to a mortgage?
The ZeroDown Process
What does the ZeroDown process look like?
What paperwork do I need to review and sign?
Do I need a real estate agent?
I’m a real estate agent. How does ZeroDown work with agent partners?
Qualifying for ZeroDown
What are the minimum qualifications?
What financial documentation is needed to apply?
Why was I declined?
Costs and Fees
How much will this cost me?
Why is there a Starter Payment?
Is the Starter Payment refundable?
Are my Purchase Credits refundable?
Choosing a home, the offer process
What homes are eligible for ZeroDown Rent to Own?
How do I let ZeroDown know I want to make an offer?
How long does it take for ZeroDown to approve an offer request?
How does ZeroDown decide how much to offer on a property?
How long does it take for ZeroDown to buy the home? And for me to move in?
When can I move in?
What if the Seller wants a leaseback?
Does ZeroDown inspect the home?
Who will take care of the repairs identified during the home inspection?
What if the Seller doesn't provide enough credits to cover all the repairs that I or ZeroDown wants?
What if the inspection finds major concerns or significant repairs that are needed?
Living in a ZeroDown Home
Who actually owns the home?
What is a Lease Option?
When is my Starter Payment due?
When do I sign my lease agreement?
When is Rent due?
How do I submit my rent payment?
Can I set up autopay to schedule my rent payment?
Will I need to get renter’s insurance?
Can I have pets while leasing my home from ZeroDown?
What do I do if there is an emergency?
What’s my path towards buying the home from ZeroDown?
Can I relocate to another home with ZeroDown during my lease?
What if I need to leave during my lease without buying the home?
How do I know how many Purchase Credits I’ve earned?
How will I know how much my home will cost to purchase?
What if I choose not to buy my home?
Repairs and Maintenance
Who is responsible for home maintenance and repairs during my lease?
How do I submit a maintenance request to ZeroDown?
What kinds of home improvements can I make during my lease?
The buyback process
How do I start the process to buy my home from ZeroDown?
Do you need my lender’s contact information?
What happens after ZeroDown connects with my lender?
What if my financing falls through?
Who else besides my lender and ZeroDown needs to be involved when I buy the home from ZeroDown?
Will ZeroDown pay for any of my closing costs?
What kind of documents will ZeroDown get from my lender?
What happens if the home appraises for less than my predetermined purchase price?
Do I pay rent while I am in the process of buying my home from ZeroDown?
How will my Purchase Credits work when I want to buy my home?
What happens on the day I close on my home purchase?
I still have more questions about the process to buy my home from ZeroDown!

About ZeroDown

What is ZeroDown?
ZeroDown offers a faster, more accessible road to homeownership. Pick almost any home listed on the market for sale and rent it while you save up to buy it.

With ZeroDown you don’t have to wait to move into your dream home. Pick the home you want to buy over the next three years, we’ll buy the home now, and you’ll start living there while paying a monthly rent and earning credits to use for your future down payment on the home. You can buy the home from us whenever you’re ready, whether that’s in 30 days or in 36 months. If you ultimately change your mind about buying, you can even walk away!
How does ZeroDown Work?
Here’s how the process works:
  1. Get prequalified to determine your verified buying power. Then meet with one of our dream fulfillment specialists to complete your application.
  2. Connect with one of our stellar partner agents (or use your own) and start looking for a home within your buying power.
  3. Pick a home that meets our
    guidelines
    . If the home fulfills our requirements we’ll make an offer to buy it.
  4. Once we win the offer, you’ll sign a 1-3 year lease with ZeroDown to rent the home and an option agreement that gives you the exclusive right to purchase the home from us at a predetermined price.
  5. Move into your home and pay the monthly rent outlined in the lease, while you save up to buy it. During the term of your lease, you will also be accruing Purchase Credits with each monthly rent payment that can be used for the future down payment when you decide to purchase the home. Purchase Credits typically accrue at a rate equivalent to 30-45% of the monthly lease payment.
  6. ZeroDown will cover all major repairs and maintenance expenses to provide a habitable home during your lease.You will take care of the small items to be replaced or repaired with a home warranty which ZeroDown will purchase.
  7. You can even add cosmetic improvements or replace appliances at your own expense by submitting a request.
  8. When you’re ready, purchase the home from us at the predetermined price. Use your Purchase Credits to fund your purchase in combination with a mortgage or other funds.
  9. If you no longer want to purchase the home after your lease ends, you can walk away from the lease and cash out a portion of your Purchase Credits.
What are ZeroDown Purchase Credits?
Think of Purchase Credits as a down payment savings account, that starts at 2% of your home’s current purchase price. Each month that your lease remains current, you earn Purchase Credits. Purchase Credits correlate to a percentage of the home’s value, so 5% Purchase Credits correlates to 5% of the home’s price.

Because the Purchase Credits are a percentage of your home’s purchase price, as the home’s purchase price grows, so does the value of your Purchase Credits.

You can apply your Purchase Credits towards a down payment on your home at any point during your lease. If you have 5% Purchase Credits, then you have a 5% down payment ready! If you choose not to purchase your home when your lease ends, then ZeroDown will refund a portion of your accumulated Purchase Credits, minus a Termination Fee equal to 2% of the original purchase price of the home and any outstanding fees and payments owed to ZeroDown (this will help cover our costs related to selling or re-renting the property)*.

For example:
  • On our 5% Purchase Credit program, you'd get a refund of 3% of the original home purchase price.
  • On our 10% Purchase Credit program, you'd get a refund of 8% of the original home purchase price.

* If the original purchase price of the home was $400,000 or higher, you will not be eligible for a refund of Purchase Credits if you decide not to purchase the home.
Is ZeroDown available in my area?
Our program is currently available in all major metros in 8 states: AZ, CA, CO, FL, GA, TX, VA, and WA. If you’re interested in the ZeroDown lease-to-own program, but don’t see your state above, keep in touch! We’ll be expanding across the US in the future.

ZeroDown Vs. Other Options

How does ZeroDown compare with renting?
ZeroDown’s program is a type of rent-to-own program, meaning you get the affordability and flexibility of renting a property while simultaneously contributing each month towards buying it. However, there are some important differences between ZeroDown’s rent-to-own program and regular renting:

Easing into Homeownership

Unlike traditional renting, ZeroDown lets you work towards buying a property while simultaneously inhabiting it. Think of ZeroDown as trying before buying—find a home you love, move in, and develop an understanding of being a homeowner, all while still enjoying the benefits of renting. During your lease, you’ll be able to figure out if the home works for you and your family long-term. If it does, you’ll have a headstart on your new life there. If it doesn’t, you can walk away and cash out a portion of the Purchase Credits you accumulated while living there.*.

* If the original purchase price of the home was $400,000 or higher, you will not be eligible for a refund of Purchase Credits if you decide not to purchase the home.

The Quality of the Home

Homes for sale tend to be better maintained and more recently renovated than rentals. This means when you participate in a rent-to-own program with ZeroDown you’ll be looking at higher quality homes than if you were shopping for a standard rental.

Because homes for sale include disclosures and home inspections, buyers have more information about the history and quality of a home than a renter would. We provide you with these disclosures as well, and our team of property experts will work with you and our agent partner to make sure that any home you move into and eventually buy will be a smart purchase.

Rent

ZeroDown’s program is designed to get you closer to homeownership every month you live in the home.

At first glance, your monthly payments may seem more expensive than traditional renting, but that’s because you are entering into a long-term lease for a home that ZeroDown custom purchased for you. Your monthly payment won’t ever change during the 3 years, regardless of the inflation environment. And, your option agreement allows you to earn Purchase Credits and participate in equity upside on the home, which can make your effective rent much lower than comparable rentals. Plus, if you decide you don’t want to buy the home you can always walk away and in some cases receive a portion of your accumulated Purchase Credits.

Repairs, Maintenance, and Improvements

ZeroDown will handle all maintenance and repairs to keep your home safe and habitable during your lease - if there’s an issue with your roof or furnace, we’ll get it fixed.

ZeroDown will also purchase a home warranty for the home when you move in that will cover common repairs and replacements. You will be responsible for making the service requests and paying the appointment service fees.

The home you’re renting will eventually be yours, so if you want to paint it, you can! You can even redo the floors, change the kitchen cabinets, and more. Just let us know in advance! We encourage future homeowners to make homes feel like their own. However, because we’re still financially responsible for the home while you rent it, we don’t allow larger scale renovations that require a permit—like changes to the roof, structure, electrical, mechanical, or plumbing systems. For a full list of permissible renovations, you can check our
guidelines
.
How does ZeroDown compare to a mortgage?
Unlike a traditional mortgage, ZeroDown allows you to live in your home without a mortgage or the large cash reserves necessary for a down payment, property taxes, or home insurance. We understand that while a lot of people are ready to be homeowners, their finances may need time to catch up. With ZeroDown, you’ll have a three-year window where you can enjoy all the benefits of homeownership, with all the flexibility of renting.

Let’s break down the key differences between ZeroDown and a traditional mortgage.
  • A typical mortgage requires a down payment of between 10-20%. With ZeroDown, you can rent-to-own almost any home available as long as you have 2-3% of the purchase price.
  • While traditional mortgages require an immediate down payment that locks you into a 15-30 year commitment, ZeroDown gives you a 3-year period to live in a home before you make a down payment. That means you can try out your home before deciding to buy it.
  • Unlike a financed home purchase, ZeroDown buys homes with cash and a quick close. Because we buy homes with strong cash offers, we are able to negotiate the best price when shopping for your new home.
  • Qualifying for a mortgage is often a headache with steep requirements for your credit, financial record, employment history, and more. You don’t need to be able to qualify for a traditional mortgage to qualify for ZeroDown’s rent-to-own program. At ZeroDown, we make homeownership more accessible for more homebuyers regardless of what a mortgage lender is telling them today. Even if you aren’t mortgage-ready today, you may be eligible to qualify for ZeroDown’s rent-to-own program.

The ZeroDown Process

What does the ZeroDown process look like?
Here’s a breakdown of what you can expect from start to finish:

  1. Apply online to get prequalified. You’ll answer some questions about your finances and we’ll run a soft credit check that won’t affect your credit score. We require a minimum credit score of 540.
  2. Wait for approval. We’ll review your prequalification and get back to you within 24-48 hours to let you know if you’re prequalified for the ZeroDown rent-to-own program. If so, we’ll set up a time for you to talk with a dream fulfillment specialist.
  3. Provide documents. We’ll ask for a copy of your photo ID, proof of income documents, and permission to run a background check.
  4. Get your buying power. We’ll calculate your verified buying power so you can start shopping for homes within a determined budget.
  5. Team up with a partner agent. We’ll introduce you to one of our stellar partner agents so you can start finding homes. If you already have an agent you want to work with, just let us know!
  6. Pick your dream home. Once you find your future home, the agent will notify our team that you want to make an offer to buy it.
  7. Wait for our review. We will review the home to make sure it meets our guidelines and is within your verified buying power. We have the same goal here: to buy a great home for an attractive price!
  8. We’ll construct an offer. We’ll work closely with the agent to come up with the most competitive offer terms for the home.
  9. Review our offer. We’ll share the proposed offer terms with you, and provide details on your monthly payment and the future buyback prices if the offer is accepted.
  10. Give us the greenlight. We’ll wait for your greenlight to move forward with the offer as well as your commitment to make the Starter Payment (2% of the offer price*).
  11. Pay the Starter Payment. If the offer is accepted, you pay your Starter Payment (2% of the purchase price*).
  12. We’ll inspect the home. We will order and complete any additional inspections to confirm that the property continues to meet our
    guidelines
    .
  13. Do a final walkthrough. Once the home passes inspections, you’ll complete a final walkthrough of the home.
  14. Sign on the dotted line. After we’ve completed inspections and before we remove any contingencies, you’ll sign your lease and option agreement.
  15. Set up your monthly payments. We’ll ask you to set up a recurring, automated monthly payment with your bank account. If the lease starts after the first day of the month, the first payment will be prorated.
  16. Obtain renter’s insurance. We’ll ask you to obtain renters’ insurance and provide us with evidence of coverage.
  17. Move into your new home! This one’s simple. Move in and get settled in your new home.
  18. Live and save! Live in the home for up to 3 years while also automatically building towards a down payment each month.
  19. Buy your home! Whenever you’re ready to buy your home, let us know, and our team will work closely with you to get everything prepared.


* Homes with a purchase price of $400,000 or higher will require a 3% Starter Payment. 2% will go towards your Purchase Credits (your future down payment savings) while 1% is used to cover our expenses related to the purchase of the home.
What paperwork do I need to review and sign?

Prior to making an offer

  1. Disclosure regarding Purchase Credits.
  2. Disclosure regarding real estate agent partner.
  3. Starter Payment Agreement.

Prior to ZeroDown removing contingencies and moving forward to close

  1. Lease Agreement.
  2. Option to Purchase Agreement.

Prior to moving In

  1. Final Walkthrough Acknowledgement.
Do I need a real estate agent?
Nope! Once you complete the qualification process and have a verified buying power, we can match you with one of the many excellent, knowledgeable agents with whom ZeroDown has partnerships.

While these agents will technically represent us in the purchase of the home, our interests are all aligned, and the agents will provide you with the same insight and service as if you were their direct client.

If you already have an agent you would like to work with, that’s great! Just let us know.

Are you an agent looking to learn more about ZeroDown? Feel free to reach out to us at
agent@zerodown.com
!
I’m a real estate agent. How does ZeroDown work with agent partners?
If you’re a real estate agent working with a ZeroDown customer, we are your client. At the sale of the home you'll be representing us because we are the party buying the home. This means you’ll show homes to ZeroDown customers on our behalf.

If you bring us a customer who buys a home through ZeroDown, you'll get 100% of the buyer’s agent commission for the transaction and a future referral lead from our real estate brokerage.

If we connect you with one of our customers, you’ll receive 70% of the buyer’s agent commission, and our real estate brokerage will receive the remaining 30%* as a referral commission for being the sourcing brokerage.

Have additional questions or want to introduce us to a potential customer? Reach out to us at
agent@zerodown.com
!

* 40 - 45% in the case of dual agency representation.

Qualifying for ZeroDown

What are the minimum qualifications?
We review each application individually, but there are a few minimum requirements customers must meet in order to qualify for ZeroDown.

A qualified applicant must have:

  1. A FICO score over 540*: All applicants will need to pass a soft credit check. Don’t worry, this will not affect your credit score!
  2. A stable employment history: We look for at least three months of stable verifiable income.
  3. Minimum monthly household income of $3,500: We will ask for pay stubs, tax returns, etc. This includes your co-applicant if you have one.
  4. 12 months of clean housing payment history: i.e. no history of delinquent rent or evictions for cause.
  5. Financial accounts that are current: i.e. no accounts in collections**.
  6. A debt-to-income ratio below 50%: your total monthly debts must not exceed 50% of your total monthly income
  7. Savings of at least 2% of a property’s purchase price***: Among other things, an applicant’s buying power will be determined by the amount of savings they can contribute towards a home purchase. For example, an applicant with $5,000 in savings would qualify for $250,000 in buying power, whereas an applicant with $7,000 would qualify for $350,000 in buying power.
  8. A government-issued photo ID.
  9. Background check: This is to review your rental history and any criminal background. Any criminal convictions will be evaluated by their recency and severity on a case-by-case basis.

* Not all FICO scores are calculated the same way—we use Equifax and Transunion to obtain credit scores. Your score through your credit card company or third-party service could appear differently. Our credit requirements are also subject to change at any time.

** We will consider an applicant with a bankruptcy from 2-4 years ago.

*** If an applicant intends to buy a property with a purchase price $400,000 or higher, they will need to have at least 3% minimum of the property’s purchase price in savings to contribute.
What financial documentation is needed to apply?
Once you complete your prequalification application and talk to one of our dream fulfillment specialists, we will need to verify your income and savings in order to calculate your buying power. This verified buying power will let you start looking for a home with a firm idea of what you can afford.

When verifying your income, we ask that you provide documentation showing your income for at least the last 3 months. On each document, ensure that your name, employer name, pay dates, and amounts are clear and legible.

For those with Salary/Hourly Pay:

  1. Most recent pay stub (must be within 30 days).
  2. Previous year's W-2.

For Independent Contractors:

  1. Most recent pay stub or pay invoice with a year to date (must be within 30 days).
  2. We will also accept 3 months of most recent pay stub/invoices or bank statements.

For the Self-employed:

  1. Most recent year’s available tax return, 1099, or business P&L, plus 24 months of bank statements.
  2. Proof of Business Ownership. This can be a document from the Secretary of State, a recent tax return, or any official document that shows both your name and the name of your registered business.

Receiving Child Support:

  1. Child support ledger from the state with 3 recent months of proof of payment.
  2. We will also accept court order document & 3 most recent months proof of payment.

Receiving Alimony:

  1. Court order documents.
  2. 3 most recent months proof of payment.

Receiving SSI or VA Benefits:

  1. Most recent Benefits Letter (dated within 1 year), Year end SSA-1099, or Year end 1099-R.

New Job within the last 3 months:

  1. Last pay stub from previous job.
  2. Most recent pay stub from current job.

Savings and assets:

  1. Most recent bank statements.
  2. Most recent investment account statements.
  3. Most recent stock portfolio statements.

If you have questions about what documents are required, please speak with your dream fulfillment specialist, or reach out to
hello@zerodown.com.
Why was I declined?
ZeroDown’s number one goal is to create homeowners. When approving applicants our primary intention is to put people in a home they will be able to successfully buy in 3 years or less. We will not put somebody in a home if we don’t think they will be able to responsibly afford the monthly payments on it.

We have multiple criteria for determining whether an applicant can afford a home. Here are a few reasons why an applicant may have been declined as well as some advice on next steps:

  1. Your FICO score didn’t meet our requirements: We require a minimum FICO score of 540, using Equifax and Transunion. Keep in mind that your score with other bureaus may look different. Most credit scores “update” every 30 days, so your may improve over time. You can find some tips on improving your credit score
    here.
  2. Your monthly household income didn’t meet our requirements: We usually look at your last 3 months or more of income. Once you meet our minimum income requirements for 3 months, feel free to re-apply!
  3. Your verified buying power was too low for your area: ZeroDown will only buy homes that are $200,000 or more. If you are unable to qualify for this minimum home price amount, we will not approve you. You can improve your buying power by including additional income in your application, adding a co-applicant, or improving your debt-to-income ratio. Please note, that even if your verified buying power exceeds our $200,000 minimum, it may still be insufficient to purchase a home if you’re shopping in a more expensive market.
  4. You did not pass our background check: To be fully approved, you will need to pass a background check, which includes looking at your rental and criminal history. We evaluate these on a case-by-case basis, and you can request an opportunity for an appeal.
  5. You may have entered your Social Security Number incorrectly in the initial soft credit check.

Costs and Fees

How much will this cost me?
Applying for ZeroDown’s rent-to-own program is completely free!

Moving into a home through our rent-to-own program has two payments to us you should be aware of:

  1. The Starter Payment. Once our offer on the home you’ve chosen is accepted, you’ll need to pay the Starter Payment (2% of the purchase price of the home, 3% if the price is higher than $400,000)*. This goes towards kick starting your Purchase Credits (your future down payment savings), you start your lease term with 2% Purchase Credits. This is non-refundable (unless we cancel the purchase contract). This fee will also help us cover costs related to selling or re-renting the home in the case where you decide you do not want to buy the home.
  2. Your monthly payment. This payment is based on fair market rent, plus any HOA dues. As long as the lease is in good standing, you will also automatically earn Purchase Credits to be used for a future down payment.

* If ZeroDown elects to make a non-contingent offer, the Starter Payment will be due 12-24 hours prior to ZeroDown making the offer.

That’s it! There are no hidden fees. You’ll pay a one-time Starter Payment and you’ll pay a monthly rent that automatically allows you to earn cash towards a future down payment.
Why is there a Starter Payment?
Your Starter Payment goes towards kick starting your purchase credits (your future down payment savings). You start your lease term with 2% Purchase Credits. For homes with a purchase price of $400,000 or higher, the Starter Payment is 3% of the purchase price. 2% of that goes towards your future down payment savings, and 1% goes towards our expenses for buying a higher-cost property.

If you decide not to buy the home once your lease term ends, the Starter Payment covers our costs to prepare the home to be sold or rented out to a new tenant.
Is the Starter Payment refundable?
The Starter Payment comes back to you in the form of purchase credits if you decide to buy the home from us, since this is the initial payment that kick starts your future down payment savings.

The Starter Payment is only refundable if we decide to cancel the purchase contract, the Seller cancels the contract, or because title cannot be cleared.

Once we clear all contingencies on the purchase, the Starter Payment is no longer refundable.
Are my Purchase Credits refundable?
If you choose not to purchase your home when your lease ends, then ZeroDown will refund a portion of your accumulated Purchase Credits, minus a Termination Fee equal to 2% of the original purchase price of the home and any outstanding fees and payments owed to ZeroDown (this will help cover our costs related to selling or re-renting the property)*

For example:
  • On our 5% Purchase Credit program, you'd get a refund of 3% of the original home purchase price.
  • On our 10% Purchase Credit program, you'd get a refund of 8% of the original home purchase price.

* If the original purchase price of the home was was $400,000 or higher, you will not be eligible for a refund of Purchase Credits.

Choosing a home, the offer process

What homes are eligible for ZeroDown Rent to Own?
ZeroDown and you have the same goal, which is to buy a great home that will steadily appreciate over the years. Most homes listed in major metropolitan areas where we operate are eligible for our rent-to-own program.

The guidelines
here
outline requirements for a home to qualify for our rent-to-own program. ZeroDown may determine any home to be ineligible based on our investigation of the property, even if it meets our
property guidelines.
How do I let ZeroDown know I want to make an offer?
After you’ve been approved and qualified for your verified buying power, we’ll connect you with an agent partner to start looking at homes. When you’ve found an eligible home that you want to buy, your agent partner will inform us and we’ll take steps to buy the home.
How long does it take for ZeroDown to approve an offer request?
Once your agent informs us that you would like to buy a home, we will immediately start reviewing the offer request. The bidding process is very competitive and time-sensitive, so we try our best to turn around an offer as quickly as possible. That’s why we approve most home offers within 48 hours.

Once you’ve identified a property you would like us to buy, here’s what you can expect:

  1. Your agent will let us know, and send us prepared answers to a questionnaire we use to learn more about the property.
  2. Our team will begin additional in-depth diligence on the property, applying our knowledge of the offers process, market trends, and property maintenance.
  3. We will make a decision within 48 hours on whether the property is approved. If it is approved, we will consult with the agent and yourself on the terms of the offer to ensure we come up with the best terms that maximize our ability to win the offer while remaining within your buying power and comfort level.
  4. Once we have settled on the terms of the offer, we will confirm your move-in date (which is usually the same as the closing date), ensure that you understand the monthly payment and purchase price schedule, and ask for your final approval before making the offer.
  5. Once you confirm you wish for us to proceed, we will sign the offer documents and the agent will send them to the Seller.
How does ZeroDown decide how much to offer on a property?
We always try to buy homes at the best price for you possible. When determining an offer price, there are several factors we consider:

  1. Comparables from nearby homes and recent sales in the area.
  2. Information and insight from our partner agents.
  3. Market trends and dynamics.
  4. Our teams’ expertise in home-buying, property management, and mortgage finance.
  5. Your buying power, monthly payment budget, and personal comfort level.


Remember, our ultimate goal is to make you the homeowner in three years or less. So we do our best to ensure every offer we make is at a responsible price that will allow you to successfully buy back the home in the next three years.

The closing price determines your monthly payments, which affects your ability to save up and buy the home in the future. The price we pay also affects the predetermined price you’ll pay when you buy the home from us. Because your ability to obtain mortgage financing in the future will depend in part on the home appraising at that predetermined purchase price, we try to plan our offer price so that the home will appraise in the future when you buy.

Finally, we want you to be an engaged part of the offer-making process, so we will always check that you are comfortable with the offer price and its implications for your monthly payments and future purchase price.
How long does it take for ZeroDown to buy the home? And for me to move in?
Typically, home purchases close in around 30-45 days. However, ZeroDown can close in as quickly as 14 days because we can make an all-cash offer and do not need to rely on external financing or appraisals. The actual closing date will depend in part on how quickly you wish to move in, since you will start paying rent as soon as we acquire the house. Here’s the process, step-by-step.
Step 1: After we make an offer, we expect to hear back from the seller within 24-48 hours. There may be additional negotiation over price, or other terms, but normally we will have a firm decision from the seller within 72 hours of making the offer.

Step 2: As soon as we are in contract, you will make your 2% Starter Payment (3% if the purchase price is $400,000 or higher) and we will order inspection(s) of the home to ensure everything is satisfactory. This process is standard on any home purchase and typically lasts between 7 and 10 days. If there are items that require repairs, we will submit a request for the seller to fix them before closing on the property.

Step 3: Assuming the home passes inspection, and/or the seller agrees to repairs, you will then sign your lease and option to purchase agreements.

Step 4: The third-party title company for the transaction will conduct the necessary investigations and work to ensure that we are able to obtain the property free from any liens, debts, or other issues.

Step 5: At least a week prior to moving in, you will obtain renter’s insurance and set up a monthly auto-payment for rent.

Step 6: A few days prior to closing, you will conduct a final walkthrough of the property before you move in with the agent partner. If you’re fully satisfied, you’ll sign the Final Walkthrough Acknowledgement.

Step 7: Move in!
Closing may be delayed and your move-in date pushed back if there are any issues with seller repairs or clearing title to the property. We will always keep you updated on any developments during the closing process.
When can I move in?
You can move in as soon we close and our ownership of the property is recorded.* Please note that your lease and option to purchase then becomes effective immediately. This means that you will begin paying rent as of the day of closing, even if you can’t move-in that same day.

* In Texas, customers cannot move in until 3 full days have passed from when we have obtained title to the property. In this case, your lease and option agreements will not start to take effect until after the three days have passed.
What if the Seller wants a leaseback?
“Leasebacks” (otherwise known as rent-backs or temporary occupancy) is a situation where the seller stays in the property for an agreed-upon period of time after the close of escrow. Sellers will inform potential buyers that they want to conduct a leaseback before reviewing offers.

In many cases, Sellers who request a leaseback are willing to accept a lower sale price since they have not spent money to stage and otherwise prepare the property to be vacant for marketing. Buyers are usually less willing to pay high prices for a leaseback purchase.
What is my move-in date?
Your move-in date/lease start date will be the day after the seller moves out of the home, assuming that the final walkthrough with your agent partner confirms the property is clean and in the agreed-upon condition. Before you move in, you will need to complete a Leaseback Walkthrough Waiver.
What is the Leaseback Walkthrough Waiver?
The Leaseback Walkthrough Waiver is a checklist for you and your agent partner to report any significant cosmetic damages, structural, or mechanical issues caused by the seller during the leaseback period so that ZeroDown can claim any necessary repairs.
What if there is damage to the property that was caused by the seller during the leaseback?
After the seller moves out, you will perform a final walkthrough of the property with the agent partner within 24 hours of the seller vacating to ensure the home is in acceptable condition. Here you will have an opportunity to report any damage to the property caused by the seller during the leaseback. ZeroDown will address all these issues with the seller. Once you sign a Leaseback Walkthrough Waiver accepting the final condition of the home, ZeroDown will neither repair minor cosmetics issues, nor withhold funds to the seller for such issues not raised at the time of final walkthrough.
What if I don’t perform the final walkthrough?
If you fail to notify ZeroDown of any damages before we release funds in escrow (i.e. if the final walkthrough is not completed within 24 hours of the seller vacating and you do not notify ZeroDown of any issues), damages will become your responsibility.
What happens if I terminate my lease while the seller is still living in the property?
If you choose to terminate your tenancy, without cause, ZeroDown will retain your entire Starter Payment.
What happens if I can’t move in on time?
In an offer with a leaseback, you are acknowledging that the Seller’s move out date and your move-in date may be subject to change at any time given unforeseen circumstances. These changes may include, but are not limited to, leftover trash in the home, cosmetic damages to the interior and exterior, the seller moving out late, HOA rental requirements, City and Municipal rulings, and any natural disasters.
What happens if the seller doesn’t move out?
In the case that the seller decides to stay in the home past the pre-agreed move out date, you will have the option of terminating the lease and will receive a refund of your Starter Payment. Otherwise you can choose to wait until the seller fully moves out of the home.
Will ZeroDown pay for relocation or housing expenses if I move-in late?
ZeroDown will not pay for relocation or housing expenses due to a delayed lease start date. You will be responsible for any inconvenience or delays.
Does ZeroDown inspect the home?
Yes, ZeroDown will order and pay for a home inspection for any home that we win an offer on, and may order and pay for additional inspections if we deem them to be necessary. You will be required to attend the inspection along with the agent partner.

If the sellers have already provided inspection reports that are available prior to making an offer, we may opt to forgo an inspection.

All offers we make will have an inspection contingency, unless the sellers have provided inspection reports prior to us making an offer. After the inspection, ZeroDown will share and review the report with you and the agent partner. If there are no issues, you will sign your lease and option to purchase agreements, and we will move towards closing. If there are issues, we may request that the sellers address and fix the issues, provide credits towards the purchase to offset our costs to fix the issues, or we may opt to terminate the purchase contract.

Reasons why we may cancel the purchase contract include but are not limited to: major system issues, termites, mold, structural faults, compliance issues, and/or any other home issues which we deem, in our sole discretion, as disqualifying the home.
Who will take care of the repairs identified during the home inspection?
ZeroDown will present the Seller with a list of repairs we request they address. Generally speaking, the Seller has three options: complete the repairs prior to closing, provide ZeroDown with a credit to complete the repairs after closing, or refuse the repair requests.

ZeroDown and the agent partner will negotiate with the Seller and prioritize which repairs to address and which to credit with seller credit before we move forward with purchasing the home. For more information on seller credit,
click here.


Prior to closing, you will conduct a final walkthrough with the agent partner to confirm that all agreed-upon repairs have been completed.

If there are any cosmetic or otherwise non-habitability and safety-related repairs that the seller does not repair or credit ZeroDown for, you may, with our permission, opt to repair them at your own cost after you move in.
What if the Seller doesn't provide enough credits to cover all the repairs that I or ZeroDown wants?
ZeroDown will always attempt to obtain enough credits from the Seller to cover all desired repairs. However, if the Seller's credits do not cover all the costs for whatever reason, we have several options:

  1. You and ZeroDown can decide which repairs to do and which to drop, based on the available amount of Seller credit.
  2. You and ZeroDown can decide to cancel the transaction and look for a new home.
  3. You can defer payment to when you purchase the home from us. In this scenario, you and ZeroDown will carry out all the desired repairs. You will cover the difference between the repair costs and the provided seller credit by adding it to the pre-determined purchase price for your home. For example, if the estimated repairs are $6,500, and the Seller only provided $4,500 in credit, we'll go forward with all $6,500 in repairs. You'll then buy the home for an additional $2,000 when you eventually purchase it from us.*

* These excess repair costs are something that you would have paid for if you were the one buying the home and getting the same amount of Seller credits. Because they are added to your future purchase price, you are not responsible for paying these costs until you actually buy the home back from us.
What if the inspection finds major concerns or significant repairs that are needed?
ZeroDown will not buy a home that requires significant renovations, repairs or corrective work to be made safe and habitable. If the inspection identifies any such major concerns, ZeroDown will terminate the purchase contract.

Living in a ZeroDown Home

Who actually owns the home?
During your lease, ZeroDown owns the home and rents it to you at a pre-agreed monthly price. Once you successfully exercise your option to purchase the property, you become the owner!

Each month that the lease is in good standing, you automatically earn Purchase Credits. When you’re ready to buy your home from us, you can apply these Purchase Credits towards the purchase price.

You can purchase your home at any time during your lease period. We’ll provide a quarterly schedule of purchase prices, and a monthly schedule of Purchase Credits before you move-in, so you will always know exactly how much the purchase price of the home will be at any given point, and how much in Purchase Credits are available to fund the purchase.
What is a Lease Option?
ZeroDown’s rent-to-own program is structured as a lease-option. That means there is both a rental agreement and an option agreement. The option agreement gives you a set of rights to purchase the property during a specified period. It is not a purchase agreement and it does not obligate you to buy the property from us. If you do not exercise your right to buy the property before the end of the option period, then ZeroDown continues as the owner of the property. In other rent-to-own programs, you sign a purchase agreement instead of an option agreement; by using an option agreement instead, ZeroDown’s program gives you the flexibility to walk away from the property at the end of the option period without any further obligations other than those that might exist in a typical basic rental.
When is my Starter Payment due?
Your 2% Starter Payment* is due after our offer is accepted.We will require the Starter Payment before we remove the inspection contingency from the offer or make any requests for Seller repairs.

If we are making a non-contingent offer, this will be due 12-24 hours before we submit an offer.

* Homes with a purchase price of $400,000 or higher will require a 3% Starter Payment. 2% will go towards your Purchase Credits while 1% is used to cover our expenses related to the purchase of the home.
When do I sign my lease agreement?
You will sign your lease agreement after we have obtained and shared the home inspection report, assuming that the home has not been disqualified.
When is Rent due?
Rent is due on the 1st of the month. Any payment made by the 5th of the month AND which clears on the first try will be considered an on-time payment.

If you move in after the first of the month, you will be charged prorated rent at move-in for your initial rent payment, and your first full month’s rent will be due at the 1st of the next month. For example, if you move in on July 10th, you will pay rent for July 10th through the 31st at move-in, and your next rent payment will be due August 1st for the full month of August.

It is your responsibility to ensure your bank account has sufficient funds to clear payment each month. If ZeroDown auto-drafts your payment and it bounces back due to insufficient funds to clear, this will be considered a late payment. Your account will be in default and legal proceedings regarding rent collection may begin. ZeroDown will re-attempt an auto-draft payment one additional time, at your request.
How do I submit my rent payment?
Rent payments will be made through auto-pay. You will be required to connect one of your bank accounts to set up auto-payment via a secure, third-party payment processor prior to moving in. You can do all this through your concierge dashboard on ZeroDown. ZeroDown will not accept personal checks, money orders, or cashier checks as acceptable forms of rent payment, unless required by local laws and regulations.
Can I set up autopay to schedule my rent payment?
Yes! You will be required to connect one of your bank accounts and set up auto-payment via a secure, third-party payment processor. You can do all this through your concierge dashboard on ZeroDown.
Will I need to get renter’s insurance?
Yes, we require all tenants to obtain renter’s insurance with at least the below requirements:

  • $100,000 personal liability.
  • $30,000 personal property.

You can obtain renter’s insurance from any qualified, licensed company. (Many auto insurance companies also provide renter’s insurance).
Can I have pets while leasing my home from ZeroDown?
Of course! We know that for many people, pets are a crucial part of what makes a house a home. ZeroDown welcomes your pet as part of the family.

ZeroDown’s pet policy is as below:

  • You can have up to three pets.
  • You will let us know the breeds/ types of pets before you move in, or if you decide to add a new pet during your lease.
  • You will obtain additional coverage on your renter’s insurance to cover pets.
  • If you do not end up buying the home, you will be assessed a $300 fee for keeping any pet(s) on the premises.
  • It’s also important to remember that certain homeowners associations have particular pet policies of their own. If the home you choose is part of an HOA, it is important to look into their policies to see if they suit what you are looking for.

We just ask that you be a responsible pet owner!
What do I do if there is an emergency?
If you experience an emergency at your home (for instance - a gas leak, fire, etc.), always call 911 first and ensure that your family is in a safe location.

Once you've done both, please send us a notice at
concierge@zerodown.com
as well as give us a call at
(415)-636-7795
, so we can assist in any way possible.
What’s my path towards buying the home from ZeroDown?
Our rent-to-own program is designed to help you buy your home via your monthly accrual of Purchase Credits. Each month that you rent your home you will earn Purchase Credits. After 12 months of making rent payments, you will have earned up to 5% of your home’s value in Purchase Credits. You can apply these credits to fund the purchase price whenever you’re ready to buy the home.

To purchase the home, in addition to the down payment you will likely need to get a mortgage. Many conventional mortgages require a down payment of between 10-20%. However, there are also mortgage lenders who may be able to offer loans with a down payment as little as 5%.

ZeroDown can connect you with many flexible loan options through our mortgage lending subsidiary, TPH Digital Mortgages, Inc. You are not required to obtain your mortgage through TPH Digital Mortgages, Inc. and can use any mortgage lender to finance the purchase of your home.
Can I relocate to another home with ZeroDown during my lease?
No, you are required to stay in the original home you chose during your lease. Once your lease term ends, if you wish to move into a different home while still using the ZeroDown rent-to-own program, you can let us know, and we will re-verify your financials to calculate your buying power.
What if I need to leave during my lease without buying the home?
If you decide not to buy your home, you will still be responsible for paying rent during the remainder of your lease term. At the end of your lease, your property must be in broom-clean condition. Depending on the home’s price range and surrounding real estate market, ZeroDown will refund a portion of your accumulated Purchase Credits, minus a Termination Fee equal to 2% of the original purchase price of the home and any outstanding fees and payments owed to ZeroDown (this will help cover our costs related to selling or re-renting the property)*.

For example:
  • On our 5% Purchase Credit program, you'd get a refund of 3% of the original home purchase price.
  • On our 10% Purchase Credit program, you'd get a refund of 8% of the original home purchase price.

* If the original purchase price of the home was was $400,000 or higher, you will not be eligible for a refund of Purchase Credits.
How do I know how many Purchase Credits I’ve earned?
You can see an overview of your Purchase Credits in your concierge dashboard. Your Option Agreement will also lay out your purchase credits.
How will I know how much my home will cost to purchase?
Your home’s current and future predetermined purchase price schedule can be found on your concierge dashboard on the ZeroDown website. Your Option Agreement will also lay out your purchase price schedule.
What if I choose not to buy my home?
If you decide not to buy your home, you will still be responsible for making rent payments for the remainder of your lease term. At the end of your lease, the property must be in broom-clean condition. ZeroDown will refund a portion of your accumulated Purchase Credits, minus a Termination Fee equal to 2% of the original purchase price of the home and any outstanding fees and payments owed to ZeroDown (this will help cover our costs related to selling or re-renting the property)*.

For example:
  • On our 5% Purchase Credit program, you'd get a refund of 3% of the original home purchase price.
  • On our 10% Purchase Credit program, you'd get a refund of 8% of the original home purchase price.

* If the original purchase price of the home was $400,000 or higher, you will not be eligible for a refund of Purchase Credits.

Repairs and Maintenance

Who is responsible for home maintenance and repairs during my lease?

Our Responsibilities

ZeroDown is responsible for the cost of any maintenance or repairs required to ensure the home is safe and habitable. These may include roofing leaks, HVAC, foundation repairs, electrical systems, or other maintenance considered a landlord’s responsibility (otherwise known as “Landlord Repairs”).
Indoor Repairs and Maintenance:
  • Major electrical systems.
  • Heating, cooling, and hot water systems.
  • Water intrusion.
Outdoor Maintenance:
  • Roof and exterior walls.
  • Foundation and structural repair.
  • Plumbing systems.

Additional examples of Landlord Repairs ZeroDown will be responsible for can be found at our
repair guidelines


Tenants living in a ZeroDown rent-to-own home are responsible for identifying Landlord Repairs, notifying us of the issue, and contacting the home warranty service provider to arrange for a service provider to complete such repairs. Tenants will be responsible for any appointment service fees.

Prior to the service provider actually performing such Landlord Repairs, tenants must send the service provider's name, phone number and any cost estimate for such repairs to us for approval. ZeroDown will pay the contractor upon satisfactory completion of any LandLord Repairs.

Your Responsibilities

Tenants living in a ZeroDown rent-to-own home will be responsible for regular maintenance and upkeep (“Tenant Repairs”) during their lease term.
Indoor Maintenance:
  • Making service calls to the home warranty provider to repair or replace broken appliances, electrical units, or plumbing items covered by the home warranty coverage plan. Tenants will be required to pay the service appointment fee (typically $75-100) for these calls.
  • Changing thermostat and smoke detector batteries, and testing smoke/CO detectors regularly.
  • Unclogging toilets, sinks, and other drains.
  • Replacing light bulbs.
  • Maintaining and replacing blinds, carpets and floor coverings in good, clean condition.
  • Maintaining all appliances including refrigerators, stoves, ovens, and dishwashers.
  • Regular disposal of garbage and recycling.
Outdoor Maintenance:
  • Maintaining fence walls, garden, landscaping on the property.
  • Maintaining locks and latches in working condition.
  • Upkeep of swimming pools (if applicable).
  • Regular disposal of garbage and recycling.
If you have pets:
  • Obtaining additional pet coverage on your renter’s insurance.
  • Cleaning the exterior and interior of the home accordingly.
  • Walk pets on a leash and clean up waste.

Additional examples of Tenant Repairs you will be responsible for can be found at our
repair guidelines


Tenants are not allowed to make cosmetic repairs or replace appliances without giving notice to ZeroDown. Tenants are not allowed to smoke within the property at any time. All communications about repairs should be emailed to
concierge@zerodown.com
How do I submit a maintenance request to ZeroDown?
If you need to submit a maintenance request for a Landlord Repair, you can do so by letting us know at
concierge@zerodown.com
. Please include as much detail as possible, including when you first noticed the issue and pictures of the issue so we can get back to you with next steps most effectively.

If you wish to conduct a minor or cosmetic repair at your own cost, or replace an appliance under the home warranty, let us know in advance through
concierge@zerodown.com
.
What kinds of home improvements can I make during my lease?
We want all our customers to love their future homes, so we are more than happy for you to make cosmetic improvements to your home. These improvements may include painting walls, redoing countertops, putting in new flooring, replacing fixtures, etc.! Just inform us of any improvements you’d like to make by emailing us at
concierge@zerodown.com
before you undertake them.

Improvements that require a permit or revisions to the structure, roof, electrical, mechanical, HVAC, or plumbing systems are not permitted during your lease.

The buyback process

How do I start the process to buy my home from ZeroDown?
You can purchase your home from us at any point during the lease if you’re ready. When you purchase your home, the lease will end. The lease’s end date will be the date that the home purchase closes.

To start the buyback process you must be pre-approved by a lender for a loan to purchase your home at the predetermined price. ZeroDown can help connect you with many flexible loan options through its mortgage lending subsidiary, TPH Digital Mortgages, Inc. You are not required to obtain your mortgage through TPH Digital Mortgages, Inc. and can use any mortgage lender to finance the purchase of your home.

Once you have obtained a preapproval letter, you will inform us through email at
concierge@zerodown.com
about (1) when you wish to close on your purchase and (2) your lender’s contact information. After we review this information, we’ll start the process of selling your home to you.
Do you need my lender’s contact information?
Yes! We ask that you please share your lender’s contact information (name, email, phone number) with us. It’s always most efficient for us to be in direct contact with lenders because different lenders have different requirements.
What happens after ZeroDown connects with my lender?
ZeroDown and your lender will discuss next steps. We will provide them with documents such as proof of rental payments that they need to prepare for closing, confirm a timeline for the expected close date, and decide which closing agent we will use.
What if my financing falls through?
You will not be obligated to move forward with closing on the home if you aren’t able to obtain financing. You will continue to be subject to the terms and conditions of your lease agreement (i.e. you will continue to pay rent and lease from us) and your Purchase Credits will continue to grow while you make monthly rent payments. Once you successfully secure financing, you are welcome to buy the home again at any time during your lease term at the most recently determined price.
Who else besides my lender and ZeroDown needs to be involved when I buy the home from ZeroDown?
No one else needs to be involved in the purchase, but you are welcome to include additional parties for counsel such as an attorney. If you wish to have an agent represent you in the purchase of the home, you will be solely responsible for paying any commissions the agent requests. ZeroDown will not pay Seller commissions for your purchase of the home.

Other parties include the title company, escrow company, and closing attorney (if applicable and in a closing attorney state) for closing on your home. You are welcome to choose your preferred title and escrow company as the buyer of the home, but we are happy to make a recommendation.
Will ZeroDown pay for any of my closing costs?
ZeroDown will pay for closing costs in accordance with local customs. However, Zerodown will require you to pay for any local/county/state transfer taxes if you decide to purchase your home within the first 18 months of your lease. This is because ZeroDown would not be able to recoup the losses from paying for transfer taxes so soon after purchasing the property.

ZeroDown will not contribute to mortgage-related costs or agent commissions.
What kind of documents will ZeroDown get from my lender?
Different lenders have different requirements for their mortgage loan programs. If you are preapproved for an FHA loan, we may need to sign off on a FHA Amendatory Clause, which outlines various expectations for the Seller and Buyer for an FHA loan. You should always connect us with your lender as soon as you get pre-approved so we can make sure the process goes smoothly.
What happens if the home appraises for less than my predetermined purchase price?
Your predetermined purchase price is non-negotiable. However if your mortgage lender appraises the home value to be below the purchase price, you have several options:
  1. Submit the appraisal report provided by the lender to ZeroDown and we will contest the results.
  2. Seek a second opinion from a different appraiser and/or look for different mortgage financing.*
  3. Contribute half of the difference between the appraisal price and the predetermined purchase price at closing, with ZeroDown contributing the other half.
  4. Postpone the buyback process and allow the home to continue to appreciate. (i.e., continue to rent from ZeroDown).**

* ZeroDown can help connect you with many flexible loan options through its mortgage lending subsidiary, TPH Digital Mortgages, Inc. You are not required to obtain your mortgage through TPH Digital Mortgages, Inc. and can use any mortgage lender to finance the purchase of your home.

** If you are trying to purchase your home at or near the end of your lease term, ZeroDown may, at our sole discretion, opt to extend your lease to allow you additional time to arrange for financing.
Do I pay rent while I am in the process of buying my home from ZeroDown?
You will continue to be required to make rent payments and fulfill your lease obligations until you close on the purchase of your home, at which time the lease will end. If your home purchase closes prior to the end of the month, you will be refunded the prorated rent for the rest of the month within 30 days after closing. For example, if you close on July 17th, you will be refunded for the rent from July 17th through July 31st within 30 days after closing.

If you close on your home purchase at the beginning of the month, you will still need to pay the full month's rent. The prorated rent will be refunded within 30 days post-closing.

Your autopay for rent payments will be disabled following the close of your home purchase, and you will no longer be charged rent.
How will my Purchase Credits work when I want to buy my home?
Your Purchase Credits will become part of the payment for your home! When you’re ready to buy, your Purchase Credits will be applied to your down payment, to your closing costs, or to both.

How the Purchase Credits will be distributed is based on discussions with your lender and their requirements for your mortgage.

If applied towards your down payment, this will typically be listed in your settlement statement in the form of either a previously received earnest payment or a Seller credit. If applied towards your closing costs, the Purchase Credits will typically appear as a Seller credit towards closing costs.
What happens on the day I close on my home purchase?
Your lender will have informed you in advance of what mortgage-related paperwork you need to sign, while the title company or closing attorney will have confirmed the time and location for signing the closing paperwork, as well as instructed you on where to send any funds you may need to pay at closing.

ZeroDown will work with your lender and chosen title/escrow company in advance as a mail-away seller. This means that ZeroDown will be signing any necessary paperwork remotely and provide any required instructions to them ahead of time. Notarized documents will be sent via registered/tracked mail to the title company or lender as needed.

Your lender and Title company will confirm for both you (the buyer) and us (the seller) when the change in ownership has been recorded with the local recording office, meaning that you are the new owner of your ZeroDown home. Congratulations!
I still have more questions about the process to buy my home from ZeroDown!
No problem! We love discussing home ownership with aspiring homeowners. If you are still in the process of prequalifying for your verified buying power or shopping for a home with an agent partner, reach out to your dream fulfillment specialist! If you are already a ZeroDown tenant, you can email us at
concierge@zerodown.com
to discuss the process further.