Fred Griffin: Are Tenants Ruining Your Chance to Sell Your House?

Are Tenants Ruining Your Chance to Sell Your House?

"As a Seller, you are at the mercy of your Tenants.  They occupy the house and are paying you money for that privilege.  I suggest that you delay your home's sale until the Tenants have vacated the property.   It may cost you dearly to list your house while your Tenants are still living there!"


Are Tenants Ruining Your Chance to Sell Your House?

I showed two very nice homes today in Winnetka that were currently being rented.  There are, it seems, many homes like this, by- products of a time when nothing was moving and desperate sellers rented their homes in the dim hope of selling later.  Later has come Are Tenants Ruining Your Chance to Sell Your Homeand I  hope that if you are selling your tenant-occupied home, that you have a tenant that has some pride in their temporary home.  If not, you may be losing money.

The first house we saw today was scuffed and smelly.  No disgusting odors, but rather a pervasive stale smell that followed us around the house - sort of like bad breath.  Perhaps an animal, perhaps just a unclean home, who knows.  

The second home was just plain . . . what?  A toy store disguised as someone's home?  The kitchen breakfast nook was a plastic castle. The family room was a receptacle for any and all toys not currently being played with.  The living room was a beehive of slides, tubes,  and yet more toys.  One bedroom closet was a Lego fortress.  And of course, the family stayed during the showing.

I get that renters are not motivated - it is not their home and it they who are being displaced and inconvenienced.  It's hard enough for sellers to keep their homes tidy and fresh smelling, so how can you expect a renter to do so.  Not all renters let their house go, but if yours does, what to do?

My advice?  Wait until the renters vacate and get the house cleaned, painted, repaired, and otherwise in selling shape.  Yes, the house will be vacant - but sparkling and empty is better than dirty and cluttered.  As a seller, you are at the mercy of your tenants.  They occupy the house and are paying you money for that privilege.  I suggest you respect that relationship and delay your home's sale until they have vacated the property.  

It may cost you dearly to list your house while your tenants are still living there.  Buyers will not be impressed with your home. Really!

Frederick Griffin, Licensed Florida Real Estate Broker    


Leave of Absence, January 2019

      Fred is not soliciting new business at this time.

     If you are a current or former client of Fred, and need to speak with him, use the CONTACT button on this page.  





Tallahassee Florida Metropolitan Area    


Disclaimer:  Nothing in the above blog article is to be construed as legal advice, tax advice, or financial advice.  For legal advice see an attorney.   For tax advice or financial advice see a tax attorney, certified public accountant, or other qualified professional.



Few landlords or property owners THINK of how to deal with their tenants when they enter into a lease...having appropriate lease wording for showing to SALE or for RENT is KEY...

Posted by Wallace S. Gibson, CPM, LandlordWhisperer (Gibson Management Group, Ltd.) almost 6 years ago


Thanks for the "tenant" insight.  I totally agree with your analysis.  A year ago, I listed a home which was tenant occupied.  The tenants actually were overall pretty neat, however, one son's bedroom was a disaster complete with photos of "girls" on the walls.  Of course, it took me a week to resolve the issue and politely ask for the photos to be removed.  When given the choice of listing a vacant home or one with tenants, the former wins out all the time. 


Kathy Scipione

Long and Foster Real Estate


Posted by Kathy Scipione, Kathy Scipione, CRS, GRI, AHLS, ABR, (Long and Foster Re Inc) almost 6 years ago

Added to that the tenant impetus to keep buyers  out of the house until their lease expires so they are not inconvenienced by showings and you are so so right! Thanks for a good post

Posted by Lise Howe, Assoc. Broker and Attorney Licensed in DC, MD, VA, (Keller Williams Capital Properties) almost 6 years ago
I agree with Wallace however things can still get sticky in that you are entering a very subjective area of style and personal space. We encounter this sometimes when a new client wants us to take over a property with an existing tenant.
Posted by Mark Delgado, Benicia and Vallejo, Property Management, rental h (houses for rent, Solano County & Glen Cove) almost 6 years ago

Selling a home with a tenant is VERY difficult.  It is best to give the tenant some incentive to show.  In my area some things have worked such as $20 per showing, a considerable rent reduction and possible giving the "last months rent" for a successful sale.  Just my 2 cents.

Mark Zubek

Property Manager


Tampa Bay Beaches

Posted by Mark Zubek, 727-656-2651 Rental Manager/Broker Associate (Land of Liberte' Realty) almost 6 years ago

Fred:  There are so many renters who simply do NOT want to move, so they keep their home a mess on purpose to prevent any buyers looking at it from writing an offer.

If at all possible, I agree that the seller should wait until the home is vacant, then spruce it up, and put it on the market.  Any lost rent will most likely be made up by the home selling for thousands more than it otherwise would have.

Posted by Karen Anne Stone, Fort Worth Real Estate (New Home Hunters of Fort Worth and Tarrant County) almost 6 years ago

Mark in #5:  What great ideas.  Very motivation things to suggest that a seller do for their tenant in order to help get the home sold.

I suggest that you write a separate blog post and expand on ideas like this.  Again... some very positive alternatives.  Thanks so much.

Posted by Karen Anne Stone, Fort Worth Real Estate (New Home Hunters of Fort Worth and Tarrant County) almost 6 years ago

Fred trying to sell a home with a tenant can be a challenge as some tenants will do everything to sabotage the sale.

Posted by Jennifer Fivelsdal, Mid Hudson Valley real estate connection ( JFIVE Home Realty LLC | 845-758-6842|162 Deer Run Rd Red Hook NY 12571) almost 6 years ago

Fred~ great re-blog, I almost missed this amazing blog post by Margaret, and BTW she's on the $$$, sometimes renters are a sellers nightmare. 

Posted by Jon Kolsky, Licensed California Real Estate Broker (Kolsky Realty & Management) almost 6 years ago