3 Factors to Examine When Taking Over a Property with Tenants

3 Factors to Examine When Taking Over a Property with Tenants

3 min read
Sterling White

Sterling White is a multifamily investor, specializing in value-add apartments in Indianapolis and other Midwestern markets. With just under a decade of experience in the real estate industry, Sterling was involved with the management of over $10MM in capital, which is deployed across a $18.9MM real estate portfolio made up of multifamily apartments. Through the company he founded, Sonder Investment Group, he owns just under 400 units.

Sterling is a seasoned real estate investor, philanthropist, speaker, host, mentor, and former world record attemptee, who was born and raised in Indianapolis. He is the author of the renowned book From Zero to 400 Units and the host of a phenomenal podcast, which hit the No. 1 spot on The Real Estate Experience Podcast‘s list of best shows in the investing category.

Living and breathing real estate since 2009, Sterling currently owns multiple businesses related to real estate, including Sterling White Enterprises, Sonder Investment Group, and other investment partnerships. Throughout the span of a decade, he has contributed to helping others become successful in the real estate industry. In addition, he has been directly involved with both buying and selling over 100 single family homes.

Sterling’s primary specialities include sales, marketing, crowdfunding, buy and hold investing, investment properties, and many more.

He was featured on the BiggerPockets Podcast episode #308 and has been contributing content to BiggerPockets since 2014, with over 200 posts on topics ranging from single family investing and apartment investing to mindset and scaling a business online. He has been featured on multiple other podcasts, too.

When he isn’t immersed in the real world, Sterling likes reading motivational books, including Maverick Mindset by Doug Hall, As a Man Thinketh by James Allen, and Sell or Be Sold by Grant Cardone.

As a thrill-seeker with an evident fear of heights, he somehow managed to jump off of a 65-foot cliff into deep water without flinching. (Okay, maybe a little bit…) Sterling is also an avid kale-eating traveller, but nothing is more important to him than family. His unusual habit is bird-watching, which he discovered he truly enjoyed during an Ornithology class from his college days.

Sterling attended the University of Indianapolis.

Instagram @sterlingwhiteofficial

Read More

Join for free and get unlimited access, free digital downloads, and tools to analyze real estate.

What do real estate investors need to look at when buying properties with existing tenants?

Buying properties with existing tenants can be very beneficial. Whether you’re looking at a wholesale deal or long-term hold rental, inherited tenants can mean instant cash flow, lower risk, and more net profit. They can even make the property more attractive for other investors, financiers, and end buyers.

Of course, this is only true if the tenants are good, performing renters. Or you can at least use the situation to get a great deal, which you can then add value to. The last thing you want is to walk into a bad situation that will cost you far more than you bargained for and that could turn into a legal nightmare. So, what should you be looking at when evaluating properties with existing tenants?

3 Factors to Examine When Taking Over a Property with Tenants

1. Tenant Performance

Don’t just look at local rental asking prices or leases on the property. You need to know whether the renters are actually paying and whether you can expect them to pay on time. If not, are there good late fees in the lease that can add to the bottom line? Are any tenants in default or the eviction process? Will that be complete before you close?


Related: 6 Reasons Good Tenants Don’t Renew Their Leases

Talking directly with the tenants to get their version is a smart move, too. Watch out for discrepancies between what the seller is saying about the status of the rent and deposits and what the renter says. Also, beware of special deals. Are there any discounts for repairs or work that the tenant is doing?

As a part of your due diligence, you may want to conduct some basic background checks on the seller and the current tenants. Are there any glaring criminal issues or complaints about management that haven’t been disclosed? Know who and what you are working with.

If the numbers or scenario aren’t what you hoped, you can use this as leverage for negotiating a better price or terms. If the seller stays firm, then be willing to walk away.

2. Property Condition

You may not personally need to walk through every unit, but someone on your team needs to. They need to document the current condition thoroughly. You want to know if there are any big pending repairs or dangerous situations that need to be remedied before or as soon as you take over. You want to know if some renters are destroying the unit and if others are going above and beyond to take care of your asset. All these repair costs need to be factored into your underwriting of the deal—because that is capital coming out of your pocket. If you were unaware of some of the repairs up front, you can use this as leverage when negotiating with the seller.

Related: The Top 10 Rental Features That Attract Cream of the Crop Tenants

3. The Numbers

In scenarios when a tenant is in place, running your numbers conservatively can be beneficial. This means you should assume the worst, which is how I generally purchase properties. I assume the seller is selling the property because of the troubled tenant. I factor that into my calculations, assuming the tenant is going to move out or that I will have to evict them and then spend additional capital to get the property rent-ready. From experience, these situations only work out 30% of the time, so I have grown accustomed to accounting for the worst case scenario.


Existing tenants can be good or bad. Whatever the situation, there is a price point and terms that can turn this situation into a good opportunity. If the tenants are at fault for property damage or non-performance, check the lease expiry dates. You may be able to get them out before closing or within 30 days. For others, you may want to negotiate an early exit.

What has your experience with existing tenants been?

Leave a message. I’d love to chat.