Selling an unoccupied home is fairly straightforward. You fix it up, work with a real estate agent or property manager, hold an open house, and finally transfer its ownership to the buyer. Selling an occupied home, on the other hand, is an entirely different story. When you throw tenants into the mix, things can become even more complicated.
Most investment property owners wait for the tenant’s lease to expire. However, this situation may not work for everyone, especially if finances are tight or if the owner wants to bid farewell to the “landlord life” altogether.
Whatever your reasons are for selling the property, you need to keep in mind that it’s going to be a very sensitive matter for your tenants. They consider the property their home, which means that they are unlikely to be cooperative.
There are, however, ways to handle the situation with grace. Below, we’ve put together some tips to help you sell your property even if it is occupied with tenants.
First things first, can you even sell an occupied property?
Many landlords wonder whether or not they call legally sell a property even though it is currently being occupied by a tenant. The answer is yes. Although you may be dealing with a few curveballs, selling an occupied property is allowed. The real question, however, is “should you sell an occupied property?”
What are the challenges of selling a property that is occupied?
#1 A small buyer pool
One of the greatest challenges of selling an occupied property is that you’re going to attract fewer prospective buyers. Small families and couples are looking for starter homes that they can move into as soon as possible. They won’t be too happy to find out that their ideal home already has someone living inside of it.
You will most likely end up selling your property to a real estate investor or property management company that doesn’t mind picking up where you left off with the current tenant’s lease agreement.
#2 The buyer’s fear of bad tenants
Your potential buyer doesn’t know who they will be dealing with. You may have a “bad tenant” on your property, and that’s a risk that buyers are not willing to take. From their perspective, not knowing important factors such as the tenant’s eviction history, payment habits, etc., can be a deal-breaker.
If your tenant doesn’t pay rent on time, doesn’t clean the property, or is just difficult to deal with, you will have a tough time selling the property to other landlords. On the other hand, if your tenant is respectful, neat, and communicative, potential buyers will see him/her as an asset. This is why it is crucial to have a comprehensive tenant screening process in place.
#3 It may be hard to show the property
It can be a hassle to show the property to potential buyers if there are tenants currently occupying the home. All tenants have the right to privacy. This means that you or your property management company cannot show the house to a buyer whenever you want. You must give your tenant reasonable notice of the showing. In Florida, landlords are required to notify their tenants at least twelve hours in advance, and can only show the property during certain times of the day, such as 7:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
#4 It may sell for less
With a smaller pool of buyers, your investment property will likely sell for less than its market value. However, if your property is in an area where there are plenty of potential buyers who don’t mind dealing with your existing tenant, you’ll still make a decent amount of money. Just keep in mind that not all property investors will want your type of property — just like you, they’re looking for something that offers consistent returns.
How should you sell a house currently occupied by tenants?
When selling a home that is currently under a lease, it is important to keep the following tips in mind to ensure a seamless and stress-free sale:
#1 Show compassion to your tenants
Be transparent about your intentions to sell the house. Inform your tenants as early as possible about the possible effects on them, such as the inconveniences and disruptions that they might have to face. Explain to them how you plan to show the home, and reassure them that you will do everything to mitigate the ramifications. Showing your tenants that you genuinely care will help them become more open to the changes.
#2 Hire cleaning services
If the property is unkempt, hire a professional cleaning service to make the home show-ready. Let your tenants know that it will be at your expense — hopefully, the “free” cleaning will make them more cooperative. Go through all of your tenant’s concerns and offer solutions that work best for them. They may be hesitant to entrust their belongings to professional cleaners, so it’s best to tidy up the place when they’re at home.
#3 Schedule showings at the tenant’s convenience
It would be rude for the landlord and the real estate agent to show up without notice. Ask your tenants for their preferred time and day so that you can conduct showings at their convenience. Remember, you are disrupting their schedule — not the other way around. It’s best to give tenants at least twenty-four hours’ notice before inviting a potential buyer to the property.
#4 Help the tenant find a new place to live
If your tenant is amenable to ending their lease early, you can extend your courtesy by helping them find a new residence. If you have other vacant properties, alert them to any openings. Similarly, you can work with a Florida property management firm to help them find available properties.
Selling an occupied property may be complicated, but ensuring that tenants are included in the process can go a long way in selling the house in no time. If you’re planning on selling your investment property, get in touch with Luxury Property Care today. Our property managers will make sure that the process is a positive experience for everyone involved.