This Real Estate Case Study is about how we helped our client to sell her San Francisco family home turned rental property in Mission Dolores while she was living out of state.

Since you’re here, is it crazy to assume you might be in a similar situation and looking for a top San Francisco real estate agent to help you figure it out? Before we dive in, remember: we’re here to help you sell your home with ease and confidence!

Please feel free to reach out with questions about selling your San Francisco rental property, the real estate market, or simply where to begin as a homebuyer or seller. Our team of experienced buyer and seller agents has served clients in the San Francisco Bay Area for over twenty years, and we’d love to help you too. Click here to contact us.

Living room of a rental property listed by an out of town seller and Vivre Real Estate

Reasons to Sell a San Francisco Investment Rental Property

There are many reasons why a San Francisco homeowner might want to sell their rental property. Contrary to popular belief, owning an investment property is not an effortless, “set it and forget it” endeavor. It can be a great investment. It can also be a lot of work.

You may be done with the depreciation and ready to cash out on your investment, or you may be facing financial stress and need to sell to cover expenses. If you live far away, you may be tired of dealing with tenants, maintenance, or a property manager from a distance, always playing telephone and worrying about the next issue. Or maybe you’re retired and ready to simplify into a more passive income investment. 

In this case study, our seller client was a retiree who was ready to retire from being a landlord too. After raising her children in her Mission Dolores home, she moved out of state to be closer to family, keeping the property as a rental for over ten years. Eventually, she was ready to simplify her life by selling the rental property and converting the assets into an investment that would bring her passive income without the property management.

Selling While Living Out of State, and Other Home Seller Concerns

The seller had two main concerns about listing her rental income property in San Francisco. She was worried about dealing with the logistics of selling her property while she was out of state. She was also concerned with the current real estate market. Was it a good time to sell? Did it make sense to wait?


First, let’s talk logistics. There are numerous steps to navigate, schedules to wrangle, and stacks of (mostly digital) paperwork involved in selling a home. For the best results, and for the sake of your sanity during the process, it’s important to hire an expert San Francisco listing agent and team to help manage your transaction.

This goes for ANY seller, but doubly so for someone who will sell a San Francisco rental property while living far away. If you can’t be there in person, you need an agent to be your eyes and ears, in addition to being your honest advisor whom you trust to make thoughtful recommendations and guide you through the process.

This was not a problem for listing agent Danielle Lazier and the Vivre Real Estate team.

We are very used to managing all of the details for our sellers who are out of town, or even out of the country, and we have an organized process to keep our client in the loop while taking care of all the logistics on their behalf.

From the basics like showing up to open the door for an inspector, to the high-stakes strategy involved in pricing and negotiations, we are here to take the brunt of the work off your shoulders. You get to relax and live your life, while we handle the details and keep you informed so you can make thoughtful, personal decisions. That’s why clients (and repeat clients) hire an experienced team of full-time, professional real estate specialists like Vivre.

The Market

Our seller was also concerned about the current San Francisco real estate market. She loved her Mission Dolores rental property and former home—and for good reason! It had stunning curb appeal, great bones, and an amazing location on a tree-lined block near Dolores Park. However, there were some complications that made our client nervous about the results if she were to try and sell.

As an active rental, the property needed to be sold subject to tenants’ rights, plus our client had fallen behind on some maintenance items over the years. Throw in the current high interest rate environment, and the wobbly footing of the local tech economy that has so much sway in SF Bay Area real estate, and she wondered if buyers would be scared off by the deferred maintenance and older finishes of the home.

Like most home sellers, our client wanted an agent she could trust. She had been burned in the past, so she wanted to make sure she was getting thoughtful and ethical advice. She wanted someone who really took their fiduciary duty seriously, putting her interests first.

We held our client’s hand from beginning to end, making sure she felt empowered to make smart decisions.

Bedroom of a rental property listed by an out of town seller and Vivre Real Estate

Listing Strategy to Sell San Francisco Rental Property

After meeting virtually with the seller and agreeing to work together, we collaborated on a listing strategy that fit with her goals and preferences.

Pre-Sale Improvements or Sell “As-is”?

At first, we discussed taking a longer approach where our client would invest money into fixing up the property before the sale. This is a strategy to increase our seller client’s return on investment. Utilizing relatively low-cost but high-impact improvements like painting, lighting and staging, we can make the home stand out and more “move-in ready” to local homebuyer tastes.

(Read more about pre-sale improvements and staging in our blog, Before/After: Presale Home Improvements Equal Big ROI in San Francisco.)

In this case, however, pre-sale improvements were not practical to our client’s situation, and they are certainly not a requirement to successfully sell your home. We work closely with our clients to create a personalized plan according to your own unique situation.

Market Analysis for the San Francisco Rental Property

Simultaneously, Danielle watched as the early 2023 real estate market unfolded. She saw that—contrary to what the news was reporting—fresh and hungry San Francisco home buyers were clamoring for inventory.

Early single-family home sales were doing really well, with sales prices rivaling the beginning of 2022 before the market began to slow down in the second half of the year. Yet, for the most part, it seemed like would-be San Francisco home sellers were too nervous to put their homes on the market.

Danielle felt that the time was right to capitalize on buyers’ desire to buy a home and the lack of listing inventory available for them to buy. After speaking with the seller, they decided to proceed immediately and get the home on the market in its “as-is” condition. 

Property Marketing and Networking to Sell San Francisco Rental Home

The plan was to list the home quickly in its current condition to capitalize on the lack of active listing inventory—but that does not mean Danielle and team skimped on marketing!

Naturally, with a tenant in the property, deferred maintenance, and a very short timeline to hitting the market, some aspects of our typical marketing plan were impractical. However, we were still able to create a robust online presence to market the listing. We built a custom website and executed social media campaigns to spread the word to qualified buyers.

Danielle also got to work networking with fellow top real estate agents to make sure everyone would know of this incredible opportunity to own a home where the buyer could build their own “sweat equity” near Dolores Park. In addition to personal calls, texts and emails to agents, Danielle broadcast the opportunity to her entire Top Agent Network, an exclusive group comprising the best agents in the SF Bay Area and beyond.

Den and fireplace of a San Francisco rental property listed by an out of town seller and Vivre Real Estate

Successful Out of Town Home Sale in SF

Cutting to the chase… The plan worked!

By combining pre-MLS “coming soon” showings to create buzz, plus a full-court press of networking and marketing, our client’s listing received massive interest from buyers. Within a week, the seller had multiple offers on the table.

As a top real estate listing agent in San Francisco for over 20 years, Danielle is particularly proud of her ability to negotiate results that exceed expectations for her client, while also maintaining integrity and professionalism with the other side. After all, for a real estate deal to work, both buyer and seller have to agree! The buyer wants to buy; the seller wants to sell. Our goal is to figure out which buyer wants to buy the most and collaborate on the optimal outcome. Luckily, this win-win approach also leads to the best possible sales price and terms for the seller.

It’s important to mention that every dollar counted to our seller in this case study. The proceeds of selling her investment rental property in San Francisco would become her nest egg for retirement. Ultimately, we sold the home for multiple six-figures more than she expected. To say she is both thrilled and relieved is an understatement.

The buyer is thrilled too! This property was a very unusual opportunity: a single-family home in Mission Dolores, seconds from Dolores Park, with the chance to renovate and reimagine in your own personal style. We don’t have properties like this coming on the market every day in San Francisco. In fact, our phone keeps ringing asking if we have anything else that is similar coming onto the market. (*Wink wink…* If you are sitting on a home like this and considering whether to sell, there is a LOT of demand right now.) 

San Francisco Realtor Reviews

As always, we love to share our clients’ perspective. They tend to say it best! Here’s what she said about working with Danielle and the Vivre team to sell her San Francisco rental investment property while living out of state:

Using Vivre Real Estate made the sale of my house almost effortless. I no longer live in San Francisco so they had to contend with the inconveniences that entailed, but they did it with grace and patience. The sale went through in a week because Danielle priced the house correctly. The tenants made showings very difficult, however, those problems were dealt with without my having to get involved. Despite all of these difficulties, I got more than the asking price and more than I was expecting. I highly recommend Vivre Real Estate for their professionalism, their persistence and their honesty.

Connect with the Best SF Bay Area Realtors

Please don’t hesitate to reach out with questions about your property, the San Francisco real estate market, or your personal real estate situation. We are here to serve. Click here to contact us. If you think we are a good fit to help sell your property, you can jump-start the process by filling out our Seller Worksheet and telling us more about yourself.

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