I am reading about the importance of staging your home prior to selling. I have tenants in my property now, and cannot afford vacant property. ??

Asked by Nina M., West Hills, CA Sun Jan 2, 2011

I am asking about how to sell property while I have tenants. Their lease is up in May, I will have them be tenants at will. They can stay while house is on market if they choose. They are very clean and neat and have nice belongings. Also need to find out the particulars about showing house while it is occupied. I have seen signs around stating above "For Sale" sign, please do not disturb the tenants/shown by appointment only. Does it really affect property negatively if it is occupied? Obviously yard should be nicely manicured, fresh flowering plants etc.

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Jane Grant, Agent, Aguanga, CA
Mon Jan 3, 2011
Nina: Showing by appointment only to make sure that the home is clean and neat is better than showing it anytime with the potential of it being a mess. However, you say that your tenants are neat and clean and therefor it may be better to just install a lock box and have it shown all of the time.

What you work out with your tenants and how they feel should always be taken into consideration. Read you lease and see what it says regarding entering the home. Then speak to your tenants and work out an amicable situation that will work for both of you.

Of course, offering a decreased rent for their cooperation and to compensate them for any disturbance from having Realtors and potential buyers enter the home is always an incentive to tenants.

One more thing you can do is to schedule open houses for days that you are certain that the tenants will be away!

Good luck!

1 vote
Richard Schu…, Agent, Los Angeles, CA
Mon Jan 3, 2011
Paint as much as you can, and maybe try to bribe your tenants to keep it clean inside. You might have better luck if you do them a favor by only having limited showing hours.
1 vote
Liliana Alfo…, Agent, Studio City, CA
Sun Jan 2, 2011
Hi Nima,
As a listing agent, I can tell you that the first thing is to speak to the tenants. Maybe they are interested in buying the house, but if not you need to find out from them how to handle the showings. Perhaps, they will give you a time frame, or certain days of the weeks. You need to find out if they will allow a supra/lockbox put in, open houses, etc. If they have nice furniture, you don't have to worry about staging as much, make sure the curb appeal is kept up, even if you have to get a gardener to spruce it up. Tenants are a problem when they don't cooperate, otherwise it's ok. Also, you have the option to show by appt. only, however the more flexibility you can get from them the better. Please feel free to contact me if I can be of any help.
Best regards,

Liliana Alfonso
Dilbeck Realtors
DRE # 01759367
1 vote
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CJ Brasiel, Agent, San Jose, CA
Sun Jan 2, 2011
Nina -

One way to work with tenants is to give them some motivation to help you with the selling of your home. A reduced rental rate for the the listing agreement period (less or more as agreed) may help. Your tenants may be open to staging. Ask your real estate agent if their stager can complete a consultation visit to simply see what they think is the bang for the buck activities. Many times it is simply de-cluttering. ( Especially if they already have nice belongings.) If your agent believes staging will make a difference for the particular home, price range, and tenant presentation, it is well worth trying.

You may also be willing to credit them money toward a storage unit if you don't like the reduced rent idea. Providing them X amount that can help with de-cluttering could also work. It very much depends on the tenant and your relationship.

Of course as others have mentioned, make sure you have reviewed the lease agreement and complete appropriate forms with the real estate agent in regards to access, showing times, and other tenant request.

Good luck!
Web Reference:  http://www.TalkToCJ.com
1 vote
Sara Mehrpou…, Agent, Los Angeles, CA
Sun Jan 2, 2011
I have sold homes before while tenants are occupying. There is not much you can do about staging the home if tenants are living there because the home is furnished with furniture that is most likely theirs. However, most tenants will try to keep the place neat and in order so that it does not look cluttered. Tenants are people and their personalities vary so if you approach them nicely about the situation then they might be willing to cooperate. Perhaps you can give them some sort of incentive to help out. Hopefully the real estate agent you choose will be nice and considerate when communicating with them as well. Feel free to contact me if you are interested in selling with your tenant situation and I will give you some suggestions.

Good luck.

Sara Mehrpouyan
Rodeo Realty
1 vote
Dave Markowi…, , West Hills, CA
Sun Jan 2, 2011
Dear Nina,
in terms of staging a home, statistics show that yes indeed staging a show will get you more top dollar , however staging can be very expensive so you have to weigh your options. In regards to having a tenant when your home is on the market, you just have to make it very clear to your tenants what your intentions are, that you need then to cooperate as best as they can. You do not have to have a lockbox installed on the property, and yes you can have it arranged where the buyers agent can call the tenant directly to set up an appointment. It is yes a little bit more of an inconvenience for the buyers agent and for the buyers, but in todays market everyone has to be a little flexible to get the job done.
You can also email me directly if you have anymore questions as i would welcome the opportunity to be of service to you.
all the best
Dave Markowicz
Web Reference:  http://dave4homes.com/blog/
1 vote
Linda Lorenzo, Agent, McKinney, TX
Sun Jan 2, 2011
As an agent we would prefer properties not to have tenants but that doesn't mean we won't show it. Check your lease to see what it says about how much notification you have to give to tenants to show. They usually have 24 hours but if they are cooperative you can sometimes get them to agree to less notice. I suggest to my clients that they lower the rent a little in exchange for a shorter window. If they work during the day you can maybe get them to agree to showings on short notice during those hours. If they are clean & neat as you say it shouldn't be a problem. The "kiss of death" are the sloppy tenants and the ones who won't agree to appointments due to various excuses.
1 vote
The Medford…, Agent, Fremont, CA
Tue Jan 4, 2011

Q: I am reading about the importance of staging your home prior to selling. I have tenants in my property now, and cannot afford vacant property.
A: Personal opinion, staging is critical – it’s why we own our own staging company. We’ve staged with renters before and, if done right, they actually enjoy the process – they get to live in a “model home” and it gives them decorating ideas for their next rental. And there are Realtors out there who, like ourselves, provide the staging free of charge.

How To “Play” Against REOs With Your “Normal” Sale – A Critical Factor Required To Win

Q: I am asking about how to sell property while I have tenants. Their lease is up in May, I will have them be tenants at will. They can stay while house is on market if they choose. They are very clean and neat and have nice belongings.
A: Perhaps a lot doesn’t need to be done to make the home look great – and as suggested below, there are lots of options as to how to make the process palatable to them. Bottom line: money speaks.

Q: Also need to find out the particulars about showing house while it is occupied. I have seen signs around stating above "For Sale" sign, please do not disturb the tenants/shown by appointment only. Does it really affect property negatively if it is occupied?
A: Time to be honest: YES – it TOTALLY affects the property negatively. Realtors typically HATE seeing the words “tenants” and “Do Not Disturb” and “24 Hour Notice Required.” With the market softening as it is right now, you do not want ANY obstacles in the way of showing your home. ANY. All the rules of engagement have changed: buyers are no longer willing to sit around and wait to get into a home. At this time of year, there are growing numbers of other homes out there that ARE available, and, if yours isn’t, they will pass it by and forget about it. As for the “24 Hour Notice” … I will set a time for a buyer tour a few days in advance, and they will often notify me at the last minute of a property that has just come on the market that they want to add to the list. In other words, the buyers don’t give me 24 hours – they give me ONE or TWO … if the occupants are going to be hard nosed about requiring a full day or are available to show the home only during specific hours … your showings will be cut in half. And getting people through your front door is really the most important part of selling your home. No amount of prep and staging will make any difference if a buyer cannot see the home when THEY want to.

Q: Obviously yard should be nicely manicured, fresh flowering plants etc.
A: Correct. And you may end up being the one who maintains them, just to be sure they don’t die on you.

Think about this from a different perspective: many people tell me that they cannot afford to move their tenants out while selling their home. I usually disagree. The number of renters who are willing to totally cooperate with the selling of their current accommodations so they will then have to relocate and go through the burdensome moving process is … a very small group. You may be lucky enough to have renters in this group – don’t count on it. There are hundreds of ways they can deviously undermine the process – resulting in fewer showings and … less money in your pocket at sale time. You may save $1,500 a month by keeping them there and lose $10-15,000 in return off your sale price. Or you might want to move them out now, totally prep your home, stage it beautifully and make the price VERY competitive. Empty, fully prepped homes that are well priced usually sell within 3 weeks – even in the current economy.
0 votes
Catherine Be…, Agent, Lawndale, CA
Mon Jan 3, 2011
Hello Nina,

While others have already mentioned that the easier it is to show your property, the more exposure it will get. So have a frank conversation with your tenants and offer them an incentive to be more cooperative.

One other suggestion I have for you is to make sure you are working with a Realtor who is a top notch online marketer and takes really good pictures and even a video of the interior and makes it available to buyers. Today, you can have dozens of pictures on the MLS and other sites.A lot of people are relying heavily on visuals to choose the property they want to see.

Best of luck to you.

Catherine Bedrossian
Home Sales Pro
(310) 383-4212
0 votes
Lance King, Agent, San Francisco, CA
Mon Jan 3, 2011

It's definitely easier to sell without tenants in the property and staging the property, if done well, is better than not. We recently worked with a client who had tenants and got them to agree to work with us on staging the property using their furniture, removing some of their clutter in exchange for only showing it on certain days/times (and them having it clean those days) and a reduced rate while on the market.

If you can't afford to have them leave and sell it vacant, this is your best option shy of selling it to them. If they do have any interest in selling the other thing you could do is offer them a lease option. Any knowledgeable agent/broker should be able to structure that for you.

Best Regards,

Lance King/Owner-Managing Broker
DRE# 01384425
0 votes
Shirley Bell, Agent, Adelanto, CA
Sun Jan 2, 2011
Staging your home probably will not apply to you unless your tenants are willing to work with you.
0 votes
Janey Bishop, Agent, Calabasas, CA
Sun Jan 2, 2011
Any restrictions on availability to show will make selling that much harder. Ask the tenants for a few broad periods for well marketed open houses and then price the house right. An offer of movie tickets or a restaurant gift card for the tenants will make everyone happy.
0 votes
Mack McCoy, Agent, Seattle, WA
Sun Jan 2, 2011
You can't do everything, Nina. Ideally, we'd repaint, resurface, and make every home look like something out of Architectural Digest. The important thing is to do the most with what we have to work with.

CJ's point is good - perhaps the tenants can be persuaded to allow a stager to come in and move some furniture around, in exchange for, well, usually, it's a discount in rent.

I've had success in paying for agent business cards - maybe $5 per card the first few weeks the home is on the market, up to $25 after; this gives the tenant an incentive to keep the place neat and to show it at a moment's notice, and, of course, you can read the keybox to be sure that agents haven't "forgotten" to leave a card.

So. Ideally, it's vacant, completely refurbished, and magazine ready. Real world: it has tenants who are eager to let visiting agents in on a moment's notice, and it presents well enough to visitors.

One other thing - as the landlord, check that the kitchen and bath(s) are spotless; if there's recaulking or anything like that to do, now is the time.

All the best,
0 votes
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