Single, employed mother of two with credit issues, after job loss, and a reported eviction on my credit report; was never "evicted", I moved out without proper notice because I could no longer afford $1150 a month after losing Federal job and Network Solutions (another rip-off company) reported me as an eviction. Looking to put an end to renting, I entered into a lease-purchase agreement with JAI Property Management, Inc. On a home located in Cartersville, GA. Although the company is located in Chattanooga, they have homes and operate in Georgia as well.
On February 11,2012 at 5p I paid a $1500 downpayment on a 4 bed, 2.5 bath, new home (was the first sign of something strange; just thought I lucked-up and found a great deal in this housing market). The home was actually in pretty good and clean shape. The lease-purchase contract stated that the monthly payment would be $830 a month (in my price range) with ALL rental payments going towards purchase price upon closing (that's wonderful... No more money thrown away on rent). The asking sales price was $129k. I didn't think it was strange because the subdivision was brand new as well as the home. Never lived in!
On the 13th of February I randomly contacted the Tax Assessors Office for Bartow County and learned that the home was currently appraised at $47k and some odd change. A larger home next door was listed for $40k (5 bedrooms w/3 baths). I immediately contacted the company and explained that I was not okay with the sales price and asked why there was no mention of a contingency in the contract in case in two years the homes value does not increase? I doubted that the home would increase in value by $80k in a two year period. The response I received was that the company had "been doing this for four years and noone has ever asked us such questions." My response: "That's unfortunate! More consumers should ask questions" (just before signing!!!).
On the 14th I agreed to look at other properties because if I cancelled the contract, I would be forfeiting my deposit of $1500. Surprisingly the other smaller (less expensive, so I thought) homes around Metro-Atlanta (Union City) required 3x the monthly payment ($895... $2685) as a deposit... One said because of my rental history and the other individual said it was due to my credit. Who has $3k just sitting around to be held as a deposit? I refused to give an additional $1100 and because I refused to be ripped-off, the company has kept my deposit of $1500. The Atlanta rep who lives in the community text me stating, "please do not text or e-mail me as it would be considered harrassment and she would press charges." You pay someone $1500 and they threaten you for calling about your money. Buyer beware... Stay away from JAI Property Management.
Long story short, I lost my deposit because I refused to let them rob me or strong-arm me into a home priced at 3x its' current appraised value. Expensive lesson learned but one worth sharing if it'll prevent someone else from falling victim to predatorial real estate investors. If you have bad credit, just rent until you can get it together and then find a reputable realtor to help you in your home purchase and/or lease. Or, have a realtor you know and trust look over the lease before you sign