Are You An "Accidental Landlord"?

Real Estate Agent with Keller Williams Consultants Realty 2003013006
Several of the calls I have received in the last year and the clients I have helped lately have been "accidental landlords". By the term I mean home owners who had an urgent reason to make a move or purchased another home, but for one reason or another, ended up with tenants instead of selling their home.
In a rush to either get resources to pay a mortgage or to make a work required move, without thinking too far ahead with it, home owners turned the keys over to people who were willing to pay them rent.  Sometimes it met or exceeded the monthly mortgage payment, but there comes a time that those tenants move out.  Or at times when a "lease purchase" does not work out as planned.  I am seeing the accidental landlord now more often than foreclosed listings. 
Through the coarse of the rental, the owner was the one to get the calls about fixing a furnace, hot water tank or repair any number of things.  A home is a big bundle of wood, wire and pipes.  Maintenance is needed and things need fixed periodically from normal wear and tear.  In the interim, the people renting the home may not have taken as good of care of the home as they would if they owned it.  Being a landlord is not for everyone. It can be quite a hassle for a busy, hard working person with a life to live.  Even when turning the home over to a management company, most times in my experience, the homes do not get the quality of care they would with an owner occupant. 
So, home owners call me from afar once they get that dreaded call they are losing their current tenants. (Or their empty home has been up for sale and their contract is expiring with their current agent) They ask if I will visit soon to see what the condition of the home is in order to sell it now and take advantage of the improving market.  Many times cleaning, repairs and cosmetic updating are needed to get the home into selling shape to compete for a much needed offer.  Fortunately, I have secured some local resources to help these home owners and am willing to do what it takes to assist them.  Several of my clients have successfully sold their unplanned investments with my assistance and it has proven a good stream of business for me in the last year. 
Recently, I have been working with several home buyers out touring homes in some higher end communities both inside and outside of Marysville, in Dublin and Hilliard too.  It is surprising to me that there are many home sellers with houses sitting empty that seem to have no idea how poorly their homes are showing.  Carpets that need cleaned and/or stretched or even replaced, outdated fixtures, dirty kitchens and baths, lawns starting to grow and out of control landscaping.  These are just a few things that I've witnessed so far this spring.
In a market where there are far less homes on the market, I understand why a seller could let this get away from them.  After all, their agents are telling them with the low inventories and rising prices, it's a great time to sell.  The snag can come when a home in outdated, poor condition, is priced like others that have had updates and meticulous care.  It is not easy for an agent to tell their client that there needs to be some work done (money spent) and/or a price adjustment. If you haven't noticed, building has taken off like crazy again.  As a result, the homes in a higher price ranges are now competing with new homes once again as they were prior to the real estate market crash. 
It is our job as agents to market and sell homes.  However, if a home shows poorly and is empty with owners far away, who will take care of those issues?  There seems to be a gray area on that at times.  Because the home looked good 8 or 12 weeks ago for photos does not mean that it still does. Plus, if homes are sitting on the market longer than a few months, there is likely an overpricing issue.  
Understandably, sellers generally have a mortgage to pay off and a number they need to meet in order to clear all liens and sell the home.  It is certainly their prerogative to hold out for the offer they need.  Many times that hold out is not due to greed, but necessity.  It is unfortunate when a seller is not fully informed about the bottom line and costs to sell from the beginning of the listing. Not a good surprise for a home owner now living elsewhere. Especially a seller with not much equity in the home that purchased at the high end of the market or who engaged a second mortgage along the way. This can many times be the cause as to why they opted to rent the home to begin with, lack of equity. 
Yes, there are a few owners that luck out and are able to sell their home "as is".  But for the most part, the more strategic the planning, the better the success of a home sold quick for top dollar.  For buyers to bring the fast and best offer, homes must be priced correctly for what and where they are and the condition they are in.  Good agents must be honest with feedback and be willing to roll their sleeves up to find resources and focus on improving that home to get the offer.  Sellers must be realistic about finances as well as expectations.  There are many details to make an accidental landlord into a happy home seller. 
Vicki (Owens) Workman is certified as an ABR, CRS, GRI, E-Pro and SFR, all recognized by the National Association of Realtors.  Highly trained and with experience helping hundreds of clients in the last decade sell and buy homes in Marysville and surrounding northwest quadrant areas of central Ohio. Feel free to email Vicki at or call/text to 614-440-5174 with your real estate questions.  Visit her site for more information about her career and work. 
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