It is not the same as a mortgage.
However, you can create a land contract to purchase a piece of real estate with any provisions you see fit. They are much more versatile than traditional mortgages in that they can contain whatever payment and possession features the parties desire.
The key difference and disadvantage to a buyer with installment land contracts is that you do not build equity in the property until it is paid off completely. This means that if you fall on hard times and miss a payment, the contract is breached and the property will revert back to the seller. This can be a very harsh reality for someone who has made several years of payments (which would then be considered rental payments). With a mortgage you get to keep the equity (sale value less remaining debt) but with a land contract you lose it.
It's about that simple.
I do strongly advise spending a little money and having a local lawyer draft your contract. Forms rarely cover the concerns of both buyers and sellers. Even if you have to pay the fee yourself (hopefully the seller will pay it) you should have lawyer walk through each provision with you to insure you know exactly what risks you are taking in this deal.
Please reply if I can help further.
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