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How a home bargain became a 'pain in the butt', and worse

Across the US, people have signed contracts for deeds; for many, these deals can quickly turn into money traps

James Williams in Cincinnati on June 28. The high-interest, seller-financed deal he signed has left him frustrated and confused.

New York

JAMES Williams thought he had found a great deal on a home. The monthly fee on the three-storey fixer-upper in Cincinnati was cheaper than the rent on his last home. And the payments would go toward the US$40,000 he needed to own the place.

But Mr Williams will almost...