A few weeks ago, I was scheduled to have a listing of mine close at 2pm on a Thursday. The buyer’s agent called me from the final walk through inspection, with his buyers frantic.
“It’s completely dirty!” he exclaimed. “It looks like a bank owned home. The cabinets and floors have not been swept clean, there’s dirt and dust everywhere, and there are personal belongings left behind and the oven looks like it wasn’t EVER cleaned.”
In some states, real estate contracts state that the home must be “swept clean”. Sellers should consult their contract to read the exact language and condition a home is to be left in for their state – even if its an “as-is” sale.
In this case, I profusely apologized for my Seller. I had told my client the home was to be left clean and completely free of personal belongings, but alas sometimes clients don’t pick up what I’m putting down so to speak… He had to go back to the home to clean it and remove the rest of his items, some of which he thought he was leaving for the new Buyers but which they did not want (always ASK if they want the items first!) and thus the closing was delayed until 5:30pm. Thankfully we made it in time for the loan to close that day.
Customary Ways to Leave a Home After Moving
Most Sellers are good about leaving a home in presentable condition for the new Buyer. It’s understandable that after moving all day, sellers may be too tired to spend a lot of time cleaning, so its a good idea to move one day and clean the next, leaving an extra day before closing when possible. An alternative would be to hire a cleaning service to do a thorough deep cleaning.
Many Sellers ask me “So how clean is clean enough?” The bottom line is leave the home in the condition you’d want to find it in if you were the buyer. Pretty darn spic-n-span!
While many Buyers will clean the home to their own standards before moving in, regardless of a Sellers’ own cleaning efforts, here is a list of things a Seller can do to leave a home clean and create goodwill with the Buyer:
Cleaning Inside the Home Before Moving Out
- Remove all personal property.
- Vacuum the carpets & floors, mop tiled areas.
- Clean kitchen appliances, inside the refrigerator and oven, and wipe down counters.
- Scour sinks and tubs.
- Wipe down interior cabinets and shelves.
- Clean out the garage.
- Remove ALL personal belongings.
- Throw away trash.
- Don’t forget your patio/lawn furniture, gas grill, etc.
- Stack items pertaining to the home such as paint cans, roofing materials or extra flooring and leave them for the new buyer, if they want them.
- Leave the home in the condition you would hope to find it in if you were moving in. Keep in mind, some of your mail might come to the Buyers after you leave, and you want them to forward it on or allow you to pick it up. Besides the fact that you will create goodwill, it is the right thing to do.
Lastly – don’t forget to make sure all items that are in the contract DO convey with the house. You should also consult your real estate contract before removing some items from the home. These may include “fixtures” – anything not easily removed from the walls or ceiling – such as curtain rods, window treatments, light fixtures, light bulbs, etc. Some real estate contracts may state that fixtures are to convey with the house. If you aren’t sure – call your real estate agent.
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