Selling a Tenant Occupied Home
Landlords who sell their rental properties and deal with the ideal tenants that clean, stage and otherwise cooperate with the home owner in the process are rare. The majority of tenants consider the task of living in a home that is being marketed for sale as a a major inconvenience to them. They don't want to clean, restrict show times and make the process more difficult and take longer than it should.
I consulted with a home owner today who is facing a Short Sale of his tenant occupied townhouse. It's been in property management for a few years so I don't think the owner had any idea that he would hear from me after my picture-taking appointment with the tenant, with the sound of absolute disgust in my voice. I seriously wonder if there is some sort of ritualistic ceremony happening where they take their morning coffee and dump it on the carpet on the way out the door. A sacrifice to the traffic Gods of Northern Virginia maybe? I have no clue how a carpet gets THAT dirty.
The owner called me today, since he is facing a Bank of America Cooperative Short Sale (one in which we have not yet been given the pre-approved price...but that's another story) and has only 60 days left to market the property according to the good folks at REBC who are the third party vendor handling the sale. We know the price needs to reflect the current condition, but also needs to be high enough for Bank of America to accept. So his question was should he hire someone to clean the house and the carpets.
There's no cut and dried answer. Sure. He could do that, or just open his car window and throw that money out of it next time he's on the highway. It's going to do no good either way. Clearly, the tenants have no concept of clean. And what's worse, is that by taking ownership of the clean up before the lease is up may very well have the owner of the home in position where he can not collect the security deposit to compensate him for the damages to the home. And clearly, he deserves that money.
So what's a Short Sale seller to do when dealing with a tenant? The same thing I advise all my sellers to do who deal with tenants. Incentivize them to cooperate. Offer them a month's free rent, or a significant discount on rent, if the home is cleaned, staged and able to be shown with a wide variety of show times. If a tenant has no financial incentive to help, they most likely aren't going to. Just a thought.