Tips to Selling Tenant-Occupied Homes

Real Estate Agent with Keller Williams Realty BRE# 01510971

Selling Tenant-Occupied PropertyNothing makes selling a home more difficult than a flustered tenant....especially if they’ve lived in the home for years. In a lot of ways, the home has been theirs...they’ve decorated, know the neighbors, children have attended schools and have close friends that they’ve grown up with. When selling a home the ideal situation for homeowners with tenants is to get the highest price with the best terms while the tenants are still occupying the home and paying the rent. So, how can homeowners have their cake and eat it too...through planning the sell.


Consult with a Realtor

Yes...Realtors love to give their professional advice! When speaking with a Realtor explain the current situation and goals of selling your home. Based on your goals...your Realtor will assess the situation to gain a better understanding whether to Sell the home tenant-occupied or vacant. Is it best to wait until the tenant lease is up or list now? What is your personal relationship with the tenants? Will they be cooperative? Do the tenants maintain the home well? Which option will create the least trouble?


Re-visit the Lease Agreement

In the State of California, if the tenant is on a Month-to-Month lease and has leased the home for longer than a year....the homeowner is required to give a 60 Day Notice to vacant. If the tenant’s lease has not ended. The homeowner can still sale, but will need to advise the buyer of the expiration date on the lease.


There’s a lot to Say About Honesty

Once a homeowner decides to sell their home and has spoken to their agent...I would advise to either sit down with the tenant or the Property Manager to inform them of your intent to sell and when. Many homeowners try to avoid this so they can keep the tenant in the home until the close of escrow, however, tenants can make selling your home a challenge. So, it’s best to have an honest conversation of your intentions and need of their cooperation.


Nobody Likes to Be Inconvenienced

Lets be honest...if you live in a home that is listed on the market, showings can be a huge inconvenience and awkward. Part of the homeowners discussion with the tenants is cooperating with the real estate agent to show the home to potential homebuyers or consent to an Open House. Another discussion the homeowner needs to have with the tenants is maintaining the tidiness of the home. Are they willing to de-clutter or clean the home before the scheduled showing times. Ask the tenants to possibly step outside while the home is being viewed and assure them that the potential homebuyers will be accompanied by a Buyers Agent, if not your Listing Agent. Once in contract, the tenant will also have to be accommodating with inspections....Having these discussions will help to get your home sold quicker with less of a headache.


Everybody Likes to Be Appreciated!

Every good deed should be acknowledge. Show your previous tenant appreciation by offering a moving gift! If you feel the tenant is or was reluctant to cooperate throughout the sell of your home, be understanding by offering a gift card to their favorite place to eat, or help with the cost of the move.


Selling a tenant-occupied home is probably the most difficult type of sell to complete, but can be done with an experienced agent. I have offered to help tenants tidy up the home and in some instance take the initiative to do the cleaning myself or pay for cleaners. Hey, good agents do what is necessary for a positive result. Its also important for me to keep an open communication with the tenants, Property Manager, and Owner on the progress of the sale. Not revealing anything confidential to the tenants or Property Manager but it’s important for them to know what’s going to effect them as well. Going the extra mile for the good of the sale of the property will determine if you will not only sell the home in a timely manner, but at the highest price and best terms.



Comments (4)

Bob Crane
Woodland Management Service / Woodland Real Estate, KW Diversified - Stevens Point, WI
Forestland Experts! 715-204-9671

Thanks so much for the tips, D'Adrea.  I do have a couple of these, and I know that one tenant was trying very hard to sabatoge the sale.

Oct 26, 2015 11:42 AM
Sophia Lin
Intero Real Estate Services - Sunnyvale, CA
Sunnyvale CA Real Estate Specialist

Hi D'Adrea, you said it right, it's certainly no picnic when trying to sell a tenant occupied property.  Definitely "communication" and "Realtor Expertise" will make things less complicated ;)

Oct 26, 2015 12:10 PM
Gary L. Waters Broker Associate, Bucci Realty
Bucci Realty, Inc. - Melbourne, FL
Eighteen Years Experience in Brevard County

My experience has been - don't!  Its easier to sell when the tenant is gone but then some do not have the luxury of losing cash flow in the interim!

Oct 29, 2015 01:05 AM
DAdrea Davie
Keller Williams Realty - Stockton, CA
Stanislaus & San Joaquin Short Sale Agent

I have to agree...depending on the market. In the current market, I would suggest to always try to eliminate selling while the home is occupied. However, it all depends on the relationship with the tenants. Thank you for your comments!

Oct 30, 2015 09:29 PM