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Showing a house with tenants


There were a number of houses open at the same time in Mililani recently, so many realtors were making their way through Central Oahu to see what was on the market. There were a couple that stood out, not for their ideal selling condition, but for their griminess—and one with tenants still in the home. Literally, sitting in the living room watching TV while everyone traipsed through the house.

It was a little awkward for all involved, and it certainly didn’t bode well for appealing to buyers. Even if the house is a short sale (a discounted price, usually an alternative to foreclosure), the uncomfortable ordeal can kill any good feelings about it, no matter how cheap.

If you’re renting your place and the tenants still live there, how can you avoid situations like this? In some cases, the tenants don’t want to move and make it difficult for the seller to show, but you could try some suggestions from various realtors:

  • Give the tenants ample time to make plans to be out. You are required to give tenants 48 hours notice before showing, but if you can plan ahead and communicate properly, giving them time to be out would help.
  • Ask that they cooperate to clean the place, take out the trash, and make it look presentable. If possible, help them clean.
  • Give them an incentive. If they can’t afford to go out, help pay for their lunch, or send them to a movie. If you can afford to hire a house cleaner and the tenant agrees, that will also help with the home’s appearance.

In many cases, having tenants already living in a home can be a selling point for people looking for income properties … as long as it looks presentable.

A couple of the other homes in this group of Mililani listings did not have tenants, but were just dirty to the point that people didn’t want to take their shoes off before entering. Apparently the owners/realtors didn’t read my blog post about how to stage a home for sale. But that’s another story for another day.

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