The "Catch-22" Is Also the Elephant in the Closet

Real Estate Agent with Bill Cherry, Realtor 0124242

I admit that several times I started reading Catch-22 by Joseph Heller.  Each time I was unable to get interested in the World War II story, so I put the book down.

Nevertheless, I know what people mean when they say, "It's a Catch-22." 

One of the most disheartening "Catch-22s" of real estate begins when what is normally an owner occupied home is rented to someone else.  It's a logical way for the owner to not be burdened with day to day maintenance, and to get significant assistance in paying the monthly mortgage payments.

The fly in the ointment is the understandable lack of interest the renter often has in seeing the home sold.  After all, none of the preliminaries of showing, selling or the outcome -- him having to move elsewhere -- is anything more than a bother and inconvenience for him.

And he easily rationalizes and forgives himself for all of that.  "After all, I'm paying rent," he says to himself and anyone else who questions his motivations.

Often times this means the home may not always be in pristine showing condition.  The renter may refuse to allow a showing because it will present a minor inconvenience for him.  And then there are those renters who refuse to leave during a showing, and then make it a point to tell the prospect and the agent things he doesn't like about the house.

We can't ignore the additional drama that will come when the house sells - trying to meet the demands of the buyer's move-in date with the tenant's move-out date.

It's no wonder that many agents, when selecting a group of homes to show a client, will not include homes that have a tenant.  There are too many things that can go wrong, he reasons.  Why subject himself and his client to any of that if he doesn't have to? 

Showing homes to clients always must be as close to a 100% positive experience as the agent can make it.

Nevertheless, it's no wonder that many homeowners who have moved elsewhere themselves find it necessary to rent out their last home if it didn't sell before their move.  And I've never known a listing agent or a buyer's agent, for that matter, who wasn't totally sympathetic.

So let's lay out the "Catch-22."  Every party to the process - including the tenant - wishes the house were either occupied by the owner or able to be left vacant.  Understandably, it can't be.

Nevertheless, in most cases the fact there is a tenant, a tenant who will have to move when the house is sold, means marketing the home will carry with it a significant cloud.

My good fortune is that one of my listings, although occupied by tenants, is leased to a fellow-Realtor.  She and her family are the made-in-heaven match for my client and for me. 




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Wallace S. Gibson, CPM
Gibson Management Group, Ltd. - Charlottesville, VA

Same as Damned if you DO and Damned if you DON' the movie * GREAT cast including Orson Wells!!!

Sep 20, 2010 01:35 AM #1
Charlie Ragonesi - Big Canoe, GA
Homes - Big Canoe, Jasper, North Georgia Pros

Hi Bill We worked with a client house was 600,000. It was rented. He told the Rentor he would pay him 4000 bonus to keep the house in good order and show it with reasonable notice. Also give him last month rent free while waiting to close. This got around the problem you post about. in fact the rentor was happy to show the home. Different price obvoiusly would command different incentives

Sep 20, 2010 02:13 AM #2
Tom Bailey
Margaret Rudd & Associates Inc. - Oak Island, NC

This door can swing both ways. I recently had my lease not renewed by my landlord under very difficult circumstances. Our lease had about 45 days to run and we had indicated we were prepared to renew and were told everything was on go. We got a call from the rental company that the owner wanted to do an owner inspection. Our contract called for 24 hour notice on owner inspections, but at 5 PM one day he insisted on 10 AM the next day. We reluctantly agreed. The owner showed up the next morning with a total of eight people. It was a showing. My poor wife had to endure two hours of people walking all over the home making all types of remarks about the decorating. Forty eight hours later we were told we had thirty days to get out. Owners need to be respectful of renters if they want cooperation.

Sep 20, 2010 06:46 AM #3
Bill Cherry, Realtor - Dallas, TX
Broker & Wealth Coach

Charlie, that's a good solution to consider.  Thanks for sharing it.

Tom, you and your wife are nicer than I.  I would have thrown them out, and then I'd have file a damage suit against the landlord.  But then, I'm very overbearing when someone tries to bully or walk over me,

Sep 20, 2010 07:51 AM #4
Joan Mirantz
Homequest Real Estate - Concord, NH
Realtor, GRI, CBR, SRES - Concord New Hampshire

I believe you illustrated a perfect example of a catch 22!

I love Charie's Clients solution...will have to remember it!

Sep 20, 2010 10:16 AM #5
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