Buy on the installment plan

Among the most famous lines in American film history is Oil Can Harry's repeated warnings to Pauline, "If you don't give me the deed to your ranch, I'm going to tie you to the railroad tracks." Oil Can Harry knew that if Pauline signed over the deed to her ranch, that deed would transfer the property's title to Harry. Oil Can Harry's no-money-down approach to property ownership was somewhat unorthodox (not to mention illegal). But Harry believed that if he wrangled the deed, he would immediately become the owner of Pauline's ranch.

In some transactions, however, sellers do not deliver a deed at the time of sale. Instead, buyers pay for the property on the installment plan. In this type of purchase, buyers usually pay sellers a small down payment and then promise to pay monthly installments. In return, the sellers give the buyers possession of the property, and promise to deliver a deed to the buyers after they have completed their scheduled payments. This type of purchase agreement is known by various names such as contract-for-deed, installment sale, or land contract. For buyers (or properties) that don't meet the qualifying criteria of a lending institution, an installment contract might prove a good choice. I know from experience.

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