Your Tenants Might Have Cost You an Easy Sale

Real Estate Broker/Owner with Austin Texas Homes, LLC 453249

"Easy to show" were the first words in the MLS description. I like that. I like it even better when it's the truth. Unfortunately, that was not to be the case for this home.

I called Tuesday afternoon to try to set up a showing for Wednesday morning. No dice. The tenant informed me that they have guests in town for SXSW. Would Wednesday evening work? No. My clients weren't available. They saw two other listings, and bought one of them. They are cash buyers, investing in multiple homes (they've bought 4 properties with me so far). Still, they wanted to see the aforementioned place as a possible additional purchase. I called again Wednesday afternoon, and left messages with both tenants to see if we could set something up for Friday around lunchtime (I offered anything in the 12-1pm window).

Again, no.

They called me back late this morning, asking if we could come Sunday afternoon instead. 


I am busy that day, and so are my clients. They are local, but they're leaving town Monday for about a week. I asked if there were any way to see it later in the day tomorrow, or perhaps in the evening. She launched into a tirade about how she had informed the listing agent that they would have friends visiting this week, and how hard it would be for them, since they both work. I said, "I guess he should have waited until next week. It sounds like it would have been easier for everyone." She misunderstood me and argued with me - "HOW IS IT EASIER?!?" I have to admit that I raised my voice, mainly because I don't suffer fools gladly.

I called the agent and respectfully suggested that he remove the words "Easy to show" from the description. Apparently, he had already done so, because he realized just how difficult the tenants were being. He admitted that they had "freaked out" when they started getting tons of calls upon listing the home.

I don't have a lot to add to this one - the moral is clear, it seems. I can't guarantee that my clients would have purchased this place, but I do know that they could have done so, and it would have been a fast closing for both parties. 

We'll find another one.

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Michael Blue
Home Smart Realty West - Encinitas, CA
REALTOR - 760-889-8877, Encinitas/Carlsbad
Most tenants are the kiss of death for a real estate sale. Some tenants allow folks to view the home only to beret and say negative things about the property to the potential buyers But per your post the most common is simply not allowing the home to be shown easily, Again the kiss of death!
Mar 16, 2013 03:08 AM #52
Short Sales, Foreclosure & Bank Owned Real Estate

Jason, I have a listing now that it's hard to show because the tenants not help at all... Great blog post!! I like the comments!

Mar 16, 2013 03:17 AM #53
Susan Neal
RE/MAX Gold, Fair Oaks - Fair Oaks, CA
Fair Oaks CA & Sacramento Area Real Estate Broker

Hi Jason -  not long ago I had a similar situation. I had found the tenants impossible to reach. I called the listing agent and she said "I know. They never answer that phone." That was the number given in mls. She gave me an alternate number and I got an answer right away and set up a showing appointment. When I showed up with my clients the tenants wouldn't answer the door even though we could hear them inside. I called the good number and was told they decided it wasn't a good time after all. Called the agent and her only reply was that that's the way they are. Asked her to call them and tell them to let us in and she wouldn't do it because the tenants were already mad at her for giving me their private number. What kind of answer is that?! I think that house is still for sale months later.

Mar 16, 2013 03:22 AM #54
Sylvia Jonathan
Coldwell Banker Platinum Properties - Irvine, CA
Broker Associate, SFR

It's important that the owner speak to the tenants before listing, and that the listing agent reach out to the tenants to set showing parameters. Tenants have rights to quiet enjoyment of their home, but owners have the right to market their property. Most of the time a compromise can be reached if approached correctly. With difficult uncooperative tenants, terminating the tenancy first is an owner's best policy.

Mar 16, 2013 03:33 AM #55
Michael Blue
Home Smart Realty West - Encinitas, CA
REALTOR - 760-889-8877, Encinitas/Carlsbad
Since 1984 I have been dealing with tenants in listings, offering incentives are NOT a sure fire way to offer up the property for sale as if it were owner occupied! From the tenants perspective THEY HAVE TO MOVE and will take incentives but will also boo-bie trap the sale with delays when possible. They will take a discount in rent to make the home SHOW READY but from experience, that is a crock! They don't want to move, moving is an awful experience and cost money. Have the owner contribute or pay for the move to get them out fast is the best way to sell a tenant occupied property. In a appreciating market, the extra time to sell may not be a bad thing if the sale yields more money (the home showed well) but the owner makes out with a sale. But in the depreciating market, that tenant can cost tens of thousands of lost dollars to the owner, this sadly I have seen many times, when the owner likes the tenant but the tenant uses delay tactics, months pass and the value declines. Dennis is a tenant or has a tenants mentality.
Mar 16, 2013 03:40 AM #56
Sharon Alters
Coldwell Banker Vanguard Realty - 904-673-2308 - Fleming Island, FL
Realtor - Homes for Sale Fleming Island FL

Jason, I have called to show houses with tenants and had the listing office tell me in a very superior tone that listings with tenants require 24 hours' notice. It wasn't in the MLS - how am I to know that? I don't have any idea what is in a tenant-landlord lease, nor do I care. Yes, landlords need to be sure up front the tenant will be cooperative when it is time to show or they will probably lose more than one sale along the way to having a vacant house again. Sharon

Mar 16, 2013 03:44 AM #57
Deleted Account
Fort Myers, FL

I have had the same problem with setting appointments to show a home with tenants in them.  I even had one, where the home had smelled like what I believed to be marijuana.  After the problems I have had on the buying end, if I get a seller that who has a tenant, I will set some ground rules on showings, such as available showing times and cleanliness.  I tell them I can't very well sell the home if I can't show it.  

Mar 16, 2013 09:25 AM #58
Rob Arnold
Sand Dollar Realty Group, Inc. - Altamonte Springs, FL
Metro Orlando Full Service - Investor Friendly & F

I try my best to avoid listings with tenants in them unless they are staying on after the sale.  Tenants who are being forced to move will often intentionally sabotage the sale.

Mar 16, 2013 10:49 AM #59
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Tenants don't want to move - so they make life difficult.

I had one young man who kept house perfectly - UNLESS he knew the house would be shown. If he knew that, he'd leave dirty dishes, clothes, etc. all over the house - and he wouldn't flush the toilet!

 Another time I called a woman to set up a showing 2 days later, on a Friday - her lease said she had to allow us in with 24 hour notice. She said no. I said "Then how about Monday?" Absolutely not. When I reminded her of her lease she said "OK fine. Come ahead. But I'm leaving the dogs in the house and they bite."

We let the owner know that we wouldn't be showing that house until she had moved those tenants OUT.


Mar 16, 2013 12:55 PM #60
Kimo Jarrett
WikiWiki Realty - Huntington Beach, CA
Pro Lifestyle Solutions

Interesting comment from Dennis, #42, and your reply about a complex issue concerning tenants who occupy properties for sale. Every professional understands the challenges when for sale properties are occupied by tenants.

We should know that the listing agents first priority is to market and convert interested prospects to close on the listing, so the phone rings. The next steps are when the challenges really begin with the tenants and inspecting the property. Sometimes it works, sometimes not and if not, then next. like you stated,

Who knows what might have happened had your buyers toured the property, but they didn't and nothing in you post is going to change that, yet your reply was emotional and defensive in my opinion and could have been communicated in a personal email rather than in this forum. Just my opinion and everybody has one, don't we?

Mar 16, 2013 05:55 PM #61
Deleted Account
Fort Myers, FL

After reading some of the comments, I think I will put in the listing contract something about when the property can be shown if they have tenants.  It would state that if the tenants weren't cooperative, I could terminate the contract with the sellers paying a penalty fee as if they terminated the contract.  I understand that I may lose a client, but then it might be worth it, with all the wasted time.

Mar 16, 2013 10:20 PM #62
Sharon Parisi
United Real Estate Dallas - Dallas, TX
Dallas Homes

This happens so often. There are few homes on the market in some of the Dallas micro markets. I have run across three homes in one micro  market that cannot be shown because the tenants are denying showings.  What a shame for the Sellers and the Buyers!

Mar 17, 2013 01:26 AM #63
Jan Green
Value Added Service, 602-620-2699 - Scottsdale, AZ
HomeSmart Elite Group, REALTOR®, EcoBroker, GREEN

Wow!  Tenants and sometimes owners can make our jobs that much more difficult.  I LOVE VACANT properties.  Showing them to buyers is easier and they don't have to feel like they're in someone else's home.  

Mar 17, 2013 08:25 AM #64
Gene Riemenschneider
Home Point Real Estate - Brentwood, CA
Turning Houses into Homes

When I call people in situations like this I point out to them my clients are investors and they might be able to continue living there if my clients buy the place.

Mar 18, 2013 02:42 AM #65
Dale Cosack
BHHS Fox & Roach Realtors - Newtown - Newtown, PA
Newtopias: The Cosack Team

Good post!  It's something we have to review with every landlord.  Not only can it be difficult to show, but if works need to be done to get the place ready to show its best it can be tough too.  I have one coming on in my neighborhood in a couple months.  We're waiting for the tenant to move out so we can fix it up & it will be easy to show.

Mar 18, 2013 03:03 AM #66
Larry Lawfer
YourStories Realty Group powered by Castles Unlimited® - Newton, MA
"I listen for a living." It's all about you.

I don't do a lot of rentals, but there are always some hands full by the end of the year.  I take only those where the tenant is aware of the process, I am in control of the calls and keep the tenant informed.  Being respectful and communicative with the tenant makes good sense, they may buy from you some day.  That being said, some folks are just jerks and care little for the agent and the people.

Mar 18, 2013 04:24 AM #67
Janice Zaltman
United Realty Group - Boca Raton, FL
South Florida Residential Real Estate

When tenants are occupying the premises and the agent tells you to contact them directly, for me that spelling a big RED FLAG. What I do for my tenant occupied listings is to coordinate the showings with the tenants via text. They usually like that and it keeps me in the loop. Then I just have to pray that those pizza boxes are still not laying around a week later when the buyers see the home. :)

May 02, 2013 07:22 AM #68
Lenny Schwartz - Austin, TX

what about using a form when the tenants first sign the lease... it would explain that for an ADDITIONAL $75 or $100  a month  we can wait till they vacate to show the house... OTHERWISE - they MUST agree to the paragraph ALREADY in the lease (TX) that requires them to allow lockbox and show/go access (NO APPOINMENTS)... this form would say that if they deny access during normal daily daylight hours and after noon on sundays (no showings on legal holidays) then they will be required to pay a penalty of $200-$500 per incidence &/or face termination of lease & face eviction...etc...

Jul 02, 2013 06:25 AM #69
Des & Spiro Kouridakis
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices CA Properties - Yorba Linda, CA
- North Orange County Experts

Easy to show!  Sheesh!  That is soo annoying!

Oct 25, 2013 10:44 AM #70
Wayne B. Pruner
Oregon First - Tigard, OR
Tigard Oregon Homes for Sale, Realtor, GRI

It's more money in the Sellers pocket if the Tenant is gone. #69 would not work in Oregon.

Jan 06, 2014 09:05 AM #71
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Jason Crouch

Broker - Austin Texas Real Estate (512-796-7653)
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