Buying or selling a rental property is often thought to be a complex and challenging process, but with proper planning and guidance, it doesn’t have to be. The process of buying or selling a rental property involves the coordination of many different components that need to fall into place in order to successfully close a sale. Below we explore the ins-and-outs of buying and selling a rental property, including the steps on how to buy and sell, the difference between residential sales, commercial sales, and more.
Types of Rental Property Sales
How to Buy a Rental Property? (13 Steps)
Investing in a rental property can be a profitable venture for those looking to generate passive income or build long term wealth. Below are 13 steps to help potential buyers navigate the process of how to buy a rental property:
- Determine your Budget: Assess your finances and determine how much you can afford to spend on a rental property, taking into account the down payment, closing costs, and ongoing expenses.
- Get Prequalified: Even if you have the knowledge and experience, you need to talk to a mortgage broker or bank to determine your eligibility for a loan.
- (Optional/Recommended) Hire a Real Estate Agent: Real estate agents are usually paid for by the seller, so it’s always a good idea to hire a real estate agent that specializes in rental properties you like and trust to help guide you through the buying process.
- Choose a Location: Research different neighborhoods and determine which areas are in high demand and have strong rental potential.
- Find a Property: Search online real estate platforms, work with a real estate agent, and attend open houses in your desired area to find a property that meets your criteria.
- Assess the Property’s Value: Hire an appraiser or consult your real estate agent to determine the target property’s value and identify any issues that may affect its rental potential.
- Determine Rental Income Potential: Research the rental rates in the area and determine how much you can expect to earn in monthly rent.
- Analyze Cash Flow: Calculate the property’s expected cash flow by subtracting the mortgage payment and other expenses from the expected rental income.
- Make an Offer: Submit an offer to purchase the property, negotiating terms and price with the seller until you reach an agreement.
- Secure Financing: Apply for a mortgage or other real estate financing options to fund the purchase of the rental property.
- Escrow, Contingencies, and Inspections: Once there is an agreed upon contract, both buyer and seller go into escrow which can usually be 30 days or longer. During this period, there can be contingencies that may be cleared and the buyer usually performs physical inspections while working through a series of administrative requirements including satisfying loan approval conditions and completing a title search. It is also during this period that the property is appraised to determine a value.
- Evaluate the Property’s Condition: Hire professional inspectors and tradespeople to conduct thorough inspections of the property to assess its condition and identify any necessary repairs or upgrades. Most seller’s require an offer before allowing inspections.
- Close the Deal: Finalize the purchase by completing any necessary paperwork, transferring ownership, and securing the investment property with insurance.
Property Sale Commission Calculator
When selling a rental property, it is extremely important to know beforehand how much the real estate agent’s commission will be. Our rental property sale commission calculator is a convenient tool for property owners to easily understand and calculate how much of a commission they would be paying to a real estate agent for their services.
How to Sell a Rental Property? (13 Steps)
Selling a rental property involves a series of steps in order to get top dollar selling price. From accurately assessing the property’s value, to closing escrow with the right buyer, there are several steps that owners must follow in order to successfully sell their rental property for the highest price. Below we take a look at 13 steps to help owners navigate the process of how to sell a rental property:
- (Optional/Recommended) Hire a Real Estate Agent: A good real estate agent associated with a reputable brokerage can net you far more than their commission when selling a property. Their market knowledge and negotiating skills to help overcome any inevitable challenges that arise in the selling process.
- Assess the Property’s Value: Your real estate agent should be able to accurately determine the property’s current market value and identify any issues that may need to be addressed before listing.
- Consider Tax Implications: Consult with a tax professional to determine any tax liabilities associated with the sale of the rental property and to explore potential tax benefits.
- Check Local Tenant Laws: New buyers may want the property vacant or a particular tenant out. Be sure to check local landlord-tenant laws to understand what is allowed, not allowed, and may be required to relocate tenants.
- Determine Your Selling Strategy: Decide whether to sell the property as-is, with or without tenants, or to make any necessary repairs or upgrades before listing.
- Prepare the Property for Sale: Clean and declutter the property, make any necessary repairs, and consider staging the property to attract potential buyers. Sometimes small repairs such as landscaping and painting can provide tremendous ROI on the listing price.
- Set the Asking Price: Determine a fair asking price with your real estate agent, based on the property’s value and comparable sales in the area. Too high of a price can scare away potential buyers, and too low of a price can potentially leave money on the table.
- List the Property: Your real estate agent should advertise the property through multiple channels, such as online real estate platforms such as their MLS, social media, colleagues, and their personal network of investors.
- Show the Property: Your real estate agent will schedule showings and hold open houses (if applicable) to give potential buyers a chance to view the property. If it is a commercial property or not suitable for open houses, your agent will likely do private scheduled tours.
- Receive and Review Offers: Review offers and negotiate terms with potential buyers until you reach a mutually agreeable price.
- Enter Into a Contract: Once you have accepted an offer, enter into a legally binding contract with the buyer.
- Escrow, Contingencies, and Inspections: Once there is an agreed upon contract, both buyer and seller go into escrow which can usually be 30 days or longer. During this period, there can be contingencies that may be satisfied, and the buyer usually performs physical inspections while working through a series of administrative requirements including satisfying loan approval conditions and completing a title search. It is also during this time that an appraisal is ordered by the buyer.
- Close the Sale: Complete any final repairs or preparations, legally transfer ownership to the buyer, and receive payment for the property.
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Online Platforms to Buy and Sell Rental Properties
The search to buy and sell rental properties is now done almost exclusively online. Online real estate listing websites have millions of listings with properties available to buy or sell. These websites are typically free for potential buyers to browse, but most charge the property owner a fee to list their property on the site. If you hire a real estate agent, they usually syndicate it across many platforms at no additional charge.
Using a Real Estate Agent to Buy or Sell a Rental Property
Using a real estate agent to buy or sell a rental property can be a smart choice for landlords, whether they have a residential or commercial property. Rental real estate agents provide valuable assistance with many aspects such as marketing a property for sale, finding new properties for sale, and helping investors negotiate contract terms.
Rental Property Sales FAQ
When is the Best Time to Buy a Rental Property?
The best time to buy a rental property is when a buyer has financial stability, favorable market conditions (see more below) and their investment goals align with the likelihood of positive rental income and future appreciation potential of the property. Achieving these prerequisites, requires consideration of many factors such as the local real estate market, macro economic conditions, and personal financials . In general, buying a rental property during a buyer’s market, which is when there are more properties available for sale than there are buyers, can provide more bargaining power and potentially lower purchase prices. Additionally, when interest rates are low, buyers may be able to secure more favorable financing terms.
When is the Best Time to Sell a Rental Property?
The best time to sell a rental property is when it aligns with the owner’s financial situation, investment goals, and the current market conditions. If you need the capital right away then as soon as possible is probably the most logical timing. If you are not in a rush to sell, then strategically timing when to sell can help maximize profits. In general, selling a rental property during a seller’s market, when there are more buyers than available properties, can provide greater demand and potentially higher sales prices. Additionally, when interest rates are low, buyers may be more motivated to purchase a property, which can create more competition among buyers.
Selling a Rental Property With Existing Tenants
Selling a rental property with existing tenants can be a delicate process that requires careful consideration and planning. Owners must balance their desire to sell the property, along with the tenants’ right to peaceful enjoyment of their living space. It’s important to understand the legal rights and obligations of both parties before listing the property. Owners must give tenants proper notice before showings and respect their privacy during the sales process. Additionally, owners must disclose any information about the sale and any changes that may impact the tenants, such as new owners or rent increases. By communicating clearly and transparently with tenants, owners can successfully navigate the process of selling a rental property with existing tenants.
Should you Sell a Rental Property For Sale by Owner (FSBO)?
Deciding to sell a rental property as For Sale by Owner (FSBO) can be a tempting option for those looking to save on commission fees. However, it is important to consider the time, effort, and expertise required to successfully sell a property without a real estate agent. Owners must be willing to handle all aspects of the sales process, including accurately pricing the property, marketing it effectively, and skillfully negotiating with potential buyers. This requires a strong understanding of the local real estate market, real estate law, and effective sales strategies. For those with the necessary skills and experience, selling a rental property FSBO can be a viable option. However, for those who are unfamiliar with the sales process or lack the time and resources to devote to it, working with a real estate agent is usually the safer and more effective choice.
Taxes When Selling a Rental Property
Tax implications are an important consideration when selling a rental property. Owners must understand the tax laws that apply to the sale of rental properties and the potential tax liabilities that may arise. Depending on the circumstances, owners may be subject to capital gains tax, depreciation recapture tax, or other taxes associated with the sale of rental property. However, owners may also be eligible for tax benefits such as deductions for expenses related to the sale or a 1031 exchange, which allows owners to defer taxes by reinvesting the proceeds from the sale into a similar property. It’s important to consult with a tax professional to fully understand the tax implications of selling a rental property and to explore any potential tax benefits.