It’s starting. My phone is ringing because landlords are notifying their tenants of their plans to sell the apartment. Some will renovate, some will just sell. When a seller puts an occupied apartment on the market, it takes some diplomacy to make it work.

Someone lives there, and it’s for sale: Showing rented houses and apartments are my least favorite kind of showing. Sellers who are home during showings create an awkward situation, but at least they are benefiting if the transaction takes place. The renter, on the other hand, has little to gain and frequently ends up moving as a result of the sale.

I remember showing a three-family house that had an empty apartment, where the deceased owner had lived. Downstairs was an apartment the looked like the Garment District’s by-the-pound room. The tenant, and tons of her collected stuff, was there. Upstairs, the other tenant’s place was decorated in a theme (the beach) and was clean, bright and charming. Although I noticed the difference, I was really looking at the building, which all-in-all was pretty nice. It is hard for our clients to see past such vast differences in the look of a place, based on extremes of care about how personal items are stored (or not stored.)

Not all tenants are slobs. Not all owners keep their places nice. It is a stereotype that rented places are not kept well. But stereotypes have some truth to them. I teach my clients to make an effort to tune out the personal property and personal style of the residents of a house, be they owners or renters.

Why are they selling now? The market is high right now. At some point, it will stagnate or fall. Some owners see the signs and have decided this is their year to get peak price. Gentrification happens when someone renovates an old, outdated apartment and turns it into a new, renovated condo. The peak profit time may be soon. Whole buildings get sold and converted to condos when the market is high, like it is now. This displaces tenants, who may have lived there for a long time. Some of them become our clients; some go scrambling for another rental.


Was your apartment ever in a building that was being sold out from under you? Were you cooperative or hostile? Did being told that your apartment was up for sale make you want to get a cat and not clean the litter box? Or did it make you self-conscious that you needed to immediately clean out your closets?