How to Sell a House with Tenants

Many have forgotten the real estate market is still recovering, which means many homeowners have left the market, and are just now starting to get back in it.

A lot of homeowners who couldn’t sell their home became landlords, but not on purpose. They had to rent the home because they had to move. And in a down market, sellers just weren’t buying, and once the prices began to rise, they had tenants occupying the house.

Tenants can kill a deal quite quickly. As a seller planning well in advance and having open communication with your tenant is crucial for a successful sale. Sometimes having to postpone the sale until the tenant is gone is necessary.

If you’ve got a property you are trying to sell, and a tenant is living, you have two options. Here’s what you’re looking at.

Wait for the least to expire

Most real estate agents would recommend just waiting it out, because some tenants can be sort of a bull in a china shop if pressured to get out quickly. So don’t pressure them and just wait it out. Make the cosmetic changes necessary to sell, and go on with your plan.

Some tenants could become quickly unhappy, or feel betrayed if their home is being sold in front of them. They might become difficult, and that’s the last thing any landlord wants. It could make showing the home more difficult, and if they’re really difficult, they could do damage. The place would then be less appealing to any potential buyers which would have an effect on your profits.

Looking at it another way, selling an empty house could cost you money, because they aren’t there to pay the bills, or mortgage (if there is one). It could possibly take several months for a home to sell once it hits the market, and all that time the seller isn’t getting rent checks.

Sell while tenant is still living there

This option is only plausible if you have a god relationship with your tenant. The home will show better with furniture inside, giving buyers a sense of what it may feel like for them.

Tenants immediately start looking for new places to live once they know their stay in your house is coming to an end. Talk to them to make sure you all are on the same page. Once they’re on the same page, they’ll make the effort to move out, because they probably won’t want to be dealing with agents showing the place, and keeping it clean and tidy.

If you own a place in a nice neighborhood, price it right, and think it could sell quickly, use your tenant to your advantage. Try lowering their rent for a month or two leading up to the showing, and give them an incentive to stay a little longer.

If they agree to your requests, guarantee them enough time to find another home, and maybe even offer to help them with their moving costs.

Give adequate thought to your message and delivery

Most tenants will just want to move on and move forward with their lives. Some will protest and become a pain. Those are the ones you want to just let the lease expire, or find a way to legally give them the boot. But if your relationship with them is strong, work with them the best you can. No one wants to be surprised to find out they have to move on such short notice. 

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