Real Estate in Orange County, CA
Holly Schwartz McDonald

Ask the Expert: Incentives Can Help When Selling A Rental Property

As seen in the Coastal Real Estate Guide on October 29, 2018


If you think coordinating showings for your own home is challenging, let me open your eyes to an even more complex scenario that happens all too often. Imagine you are a landlord and the time has come to sell your income property. Maybe you are tired of dealing with tenants, maybe another investment opportunity has come along, or perhaps the time has come to retire. There are numerous reasons landlords choose to sell their income properties. However, timing and tenants can complicate the process. If you are a landlord and looking to sell, here are some factors and solutions to consider.


The best-case scenario, if all of the stars align of course, would be to list the home once the tenant vacates. Then the property can be shown at any time, it will be clean, and you will have the choice to show it either empty or staged, depending on what makes sense for your home. Many times, landlords consider the sale of their property when a tenant gives notice to move out.  If the timing is suitable for selling, then luck is on their side.


Sometimes a landlord chooses to list their home while the tenants are still living there. While not totally ideal, this option can work when tenants are understanding, flexible, and tidy. Perhaps they have sold a home before as well, so they have empathy for the landlord and know how important it is to be accommodating. There are also tenants who work or travel a lot and don’t mind showings on a whim, which makes it fairly simple to show. A clean, orderly tenant who takes pride in their home can help tremendously–it’s almost like “free” staging.


Unfortunately, it is far too common to have tenants who are disagreeable if a landlord asks to show a home before the lease is up and the tenant has moved out. After all, it’s not their problem that a landlord wants to sell and get top dollar. They have a signed lease. I’ve seen this attitude from tenants, despite the fact that they are not being asked to vacate prior to the end of their lease, and it can make for a very unpleasant situation for all parties. However, there are some ways to incentivize tenants to work with landlords, not against them, in the home sale process.


Michael Lockwood, Realtor at Villa Real Estate, has spent many years working in the property management sector. He suggests motivating tenants with different enticements – all while adhering to the terms of the lease of course. One tip that has worked well in the past includes having the seller offer to cover the moving expenses of the tenants. Another strategy that works beautifully is to let the tenant out of some of their move-out obligations, for example not enforcing a carpet cleaning clause, or not making them patch and repair all holes in the walls. Tenants tend to respond well to this because it lessens the hassle of their move.


As we all know, money talks so it may be beneficial to budget for these types of enticements if you are a landlord who chooses to sell. Tenants can make access to the home very difficult. When selling a home, viewings are a must so figuring out how to make the home accessible and show its best is of utmost importance.


By Holly Schwartz McDonald

Holly Schwartz is a Realtor with Villa Real Estate who lives in Newport Beach and has been featured on HGTV’s “House Hunters.” She can be reached at

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