Down Payment Assistance Programs vs. Rent-to-Own
Rent-to-own sounds great, but in a lot of situations it's not in the buyer's best interest. The FTC actually warns against these deals, and we wrote a whole article on the dangers of it. It's a hotbed for scammers, and can cause irreparable, totally legal damage to your assets. If you breach the contract, every dollar that was an asset is now just sunk rent costs.
Rent-to-Own: “No credit? No problem!”
RTO agreements, land contracts, etc., are usually pursued by buyers who have poor credit, which makes them particularly susceptible targets for scammers. These scammers know this, and abuse it as a weakness, rather than care for their fellow human. Here's an article we wrote on it.
Down Payment Assistance Programs
In that article, we also discuss DPAPs, and how beneficial they are to people who aren't in a spot to lock tens of thousands up in a long-term investment, or don't have that kind of up-front capital. Real estate is a great way to change tax brackets, and not everyone gets into it with fat pockets, so don't let lack of funds early on discourage you!
State and local governments run these programs, but so do nonprofit community groups. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has a state-by-state list of these programs, but a real estate agent or mortgage lender may know about additional programs in your state or local area.