5 Very Important Tips for Selling a House With Tenants

By Craig Donofrio

Posted on June 30th, 2022

woman holding two houses

Are you preparing to sell a house that has tenants? It's a tricky situation, and you don't want to infringe on your renters' rights.

Read this post to learn the best way to handle the process, tips on how to discuss the sale with your tenant, advice on how to schedule showings and insight on what type of buyers you should target.

Selling a house with tenants can be tough, and you may need expert help. If you want a qualified agent near you but don't want to pay the hefty 3% seller agent's fee, we recommend our friends at Clever Real Estate.

Clever is a nationwide discount brokerage that can pair you with a top, pre-vetted local agent who can help sell your house for 1% or $3,000. Sellers love Clever — the company has a 4.9 out of 5 rating on Trustpilot with over 1,600 reviews.

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Follow the Rules

Selling a property with a tenant means following a few extra steps than selling a home you live in yourself. The exact rules vary by state.

For example, some states require that you offer your tenant the option to purchase the property before you show it to anyone else. In California, once the renter is informed of the pending sale, the home owner can enter their property anytime so long as they give a verbal notice 24 hours in advance.

For a successful, smooth sale, research your local laws before you list and make sure you abide by them throughout the process.

Give Your Tenant a Reason to be Helpful

When your tenant is compensated for being inconvenienced, they will be more likely to be helpful. As you're doing showings, you’ll want your renters to keep the house tidy (beds made, dishes put away, clutter gone).

To incentivize that behavior, offer a discount on their monthly rent for the remainder of the lease or provide a token of appreciation for their help. For example, if you plan to have an open house or have scheduled several showings one weekend, offer to pay to put the tenants up in a nearby hotel for a few days.

Target Investors

If your tenants would like to remain in the property after you sell, consider targeting investors instead of residential buyers.

An investor looking for a turnkey investment will be thrilled to find a home with reliable tenants already living in it. It also works out to be a win for your renters and simplifies the process for you!

Be Courteous When You Schedule Showings

Having tenants in the mix can complicate showing schedules. One option that can help simplify the process is to offer showings (no appointments needed) during the time you know your tenants will be at work or school.

Another option is to request that buyers’ agents book an appointment with you at least 24 hours in advance so you can give the tenants plenty of notice. Consider how you would want to be treated if you were the renter in the situation and treat your tenants with the same courtesy.

Whether you end up selling to a buyer looking for a home or an investor looking for a new source of income, having your tenant in your corner will really simplify the process.

Consider Waiting

If you're not sure whether or not you should sell your home with tenants occupying it, consider these points.

  • If the tenants are very close to being out, you may want to wait. It will be easier for you to show the home without the tenants in it.
  • If the tenants are particularly messy, you may want to wait. Such conditions are not conducive to great real estate photography or showings.
  • If your home is great for families and it's summer, best to get listed with the tenants in. You want to maximize your exposure to buyers who want to be in by the start of the school year.
  • Late summer or early fall listings suggest moving forward even with the tenant in place. You generally want to get into escrow before the Thanksgiving through Christmas timeframe when real estate slows.

If your home sale is tricky, we recommend going with an accomplished realtor. To find one, we recommend our friends at Clever. Clever can match you with a top-performing, local agent who can help sell your tenant-occupied home for 1% (or $3,000 if the home sale is below $350,000).

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Posted in Investment Property, Selling a House, Selling Investment Properties