Wealth Builders: La-Nita and Keith Thomas
When La-Nita Thomas saw a For Rent sign in the window of a pretty house in Tacoma, Washington, seven years ago and called to inquire about it, the first thing the owner asked was if she'd be interested in buying it.He
must be kidding, La-Nita thought.She
, had been Section-8 renters, with three kids (daughter Chyna is pictured with her
parents here), bad credit and little money.But they now had good jobs, which was enough for the owner, a real-estate investor who often extended creative financing for properties he
In this case, he
offered to sell the three-bedroom, two-bath house to La-Nita and Keith
for $129,500 under a lease-option agreement.They would put up $1,500 as a partial down payment and rent the house for $1,100 a month for one year, with $500 a month of the rent going toward the down payment.After a year they would put down another $1,500, and the seller would hold a mortgage for seven years-during which time they had to find another source of financing.They got a new loan from a mortgage company within a year and paid off the seller. Now bitten by the real-estate bug, La-Nita, 35, a surgical technologist, and Keith, 39, an inspector at Boeing, bought a second property for rental income in 1999 for $112,000.
The seller of the first house held a second mortgage on this property, which he
agreed to sell to the Thomases for $7,000.Keith
company pension to buy out the seller's position."His
pension lost a lot of money when the stock market went down," La-Nita says, "so we figured that real estate was a better place to put it."Shortly after, the owner of the house, who owed the first mortgage and had retired to Montana, agreed to let La-Nita and Keith
buy the house for what he
owed the bank, $105,000.La-Nita and Keith
loan, meaning they took over the payments and didn't have to come up with any more money than the $7,000 they originally paid.