The Golden Rule and Real Estate

Real Estate Agent with Fathom Realty West Sound WA State 52404

In the Gospel according to Luke, we find the following saying:The-Golden-Rule-of-Real-Estate

"Do to others as you would have them do to you."    Luke 6:31

This verse provides the basis for what many refer to as 'The Golden Rule' or the Ethic of Reciprocity, which states one has a right or expectation to receive fair and just treatment, and a responsibility to offer similar fair and just treatment towards others.

Just recently, I had the pleasure of representing a 1st Time Home Buyer in the purchase of a property in West Bremerton WA. Overall, it was a fairly smooth transaction. I had the good fortune of working with the Listing Agent previously and knew her to be a very competent professional, as well as a strong advocate for her clients.

We navigated through the inspection process, where the Sellers kindly accepted to remedy all of the items the Buyers had requested. The required work was performed promptly and copies of relevant receipts were provided.

Sellers-should-clean-their-home-before-moving-outThe weekend before closing, I performed a final walk-through with my Buyer to visually verify that all work had been performed. The Sellers were busily packing the last few loads of household effects, so we could meet our Monday closing deadline.

On the day of closing, after receiving notification from escrow that the contract had funded and recorded, I turned the keys over to my joyful and excited Buyer, who immediately began the process of moving into her first home!

Imagine her disappointment at finding the home in less than 'move-in' condition. It was clear that the Sellers had made very little, if any, efforts at cleaning the home after removing their belongings. Even the most basic tasks of vacuuming and sweeping had been neglected. After several days delay and several hundred dollars paid-out for cleaning expenses, my Buyer was finally able to move in.

Let's face it, the relocation process can be a very hectic and stressful time for both Buyers and Sellers. There can be instances where time or travel constraints can prohibit us from ensuring that the home is left in reasonable move-in condition. In such situations, Sellers should be advised to budget for professional cleaning services paid out of escrow, or to provide the Buyers with a credit at closing to cover such expenses.

Both Buyers and Sellers (and their Agents) need to remember and apply the Golden Rule:

"Do to others as you would have them do to you."    Luke 6:31 


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Rich Jacobson is a District Director for Fathom Realty and a licensed REALTOR®; an avid Crab Hunter, Clam Digger, and Oyster Shucker, He is the Social Media Evangelist for Life on the Kitsap Peninsula & The Western Puget Sound in scenic WA State.


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  1. Linda Lipscomb 06/30/2009 03:22 PM
Real Estate General Information
Life on the Kitsap Peninsula WA
1st Time Buyers
Puget Sound - WA Real Estate
Peninsula Real Estate
the golden rule
movein condition
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Bruce Brockmeier
Internet Marketing Consultant to REALTORS® - Yorba Linda, CA
Coached By Crouch

Both Buyers and Sellers (and their Agents) need to remember and apply the Golden Rule:

That's great advice for everyone!  :)

Jul 01, 2009 05:10 AM #49
The Somers Team
The Somers Team at RE/MAX Access - Philadelphia, PA
Real People. Real Dreams. Real Estate.

Rich- It is a shame that that happened to your buyers and hopefully they will remember how the rest of the process was smooth.  Those things happen sometimes and it is important to adjust and do one's best when it does.  I definitely agree with the Golden Rule.... the karma comes back to you when you do good things and even more so if you do great things... but more importantly vice versa.  Did you ask the listing agent to see if they could contact the seller to see if they could write a check to reimburse for the cleaning services ?  If not, sometimes that it is a good closing present to provide or the listing agent can step up to the plate as well.  Either way, it is all good !  That golden rule is an important one to remember in business !

Jul 01, 2009 07:16 AM #50
Tatyana Sturm
Exit Realty DTC - Aurora, CO
Denver Realtor, GRI, Denver/ Aurora CO Relocation

I always try to encourage my seller to leave a clean house.  However when I am on the buyer's side and the home they are buying is not a reo or short sale I write in the additional provisions when writing a contract that the home should be professionally cleaned, carpets shampooed and all nail holes filled, etc.  I have paid for cleaning services many times and now make it part of the offer to purchase.

Jul 01, 2009 07:36 AM #51
Loreena and Michael Yeo
3:16 team REALTY ~ Locally-owned Prosper TX Real Estate Co. - Prosper, TX
Real Estate Agents

I really wanted to know what IS the GOLDEN RULE of Real Estate - hence I had to come here. I am glad I practise that. Thanks for sharing the post and your heart.

Jul 01, 2009 11:39 AM #53
Bill Gillhespy
16 Sunview Blvd - Fort Myers Beach, FL
Fort Myers Beach Realtor, Fort Myers Beach Agent - Homes & Condos

Evening Rich,  Interesting issue.  Certainly disappointing and frustrating to the new owner !  Perhaps it would be best to include some language to this effect in the contract.

Jul 01, 2009 12:17 PM #54
Clara Hahn
Thanks for the reminder,  one more item to go into our "Addendum" to the contract, along with all the other possible problems that can creep up unexpectedly. Actually, one should expect almost anything.
Jul 01, 2009 01:32 PM #55
Bo Kociuba
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Anderson Properties - Mustang, OK
Realtor - Mustang, Yukon & OKC Metro 405-812-1572

Rich - it goes without saying - common sense and courtesy! There are people and 'very important people' (as the politician in Patricia's post), however, and that is why good Realtors check, arrange or roll up the sleeves for their clients...

Good post ...

With smiles,

Bo in Yukon

Jul 01, 2009 01:49 PM #56
Richard Weeks
Dallas, TX
REALTOR®, Broker


My personal experience when I move two years ago.  We closed and funded, went by the house, and the sellers (2 young doctors) were still in the process of moving out.

We were not expecting our furniture to arrive until the next day; however after they removed their belongings the house still needed to be cleaned.  The seller told us they had accidentally packed the gate keys, but would mail them to us. 

After several weeks I called the listing agent about the keys.  He was furious and reminded me the wife had just had a baby and had to make the drive to upsate New York.  My response was "Did she have to make the trip in a covered wagon, get me the keys like the contract called for".

Jul 02, 2009 02:47 AM #57
Mike Henderson
Your complete source for buying HUD homes - Littleton, CO
HUD Home Hub - 303-949-5848

May your clients experience some good karma in life and the seller not so good.

Jul 02, 2009 06:13 AM #58
Cheryl Laxton
Coldwell Banker Jim Henry & Associates - Kingston, TN

Great topic! I started adding to my contracts a couple of years ago after being forced to pay for cleaning. To bad that we have to go to such extremes. As a listing agent, I advise my seller's that they must leave the house in the shape they would expect to move into and if caught on a time crunch then I've got names for them to use and pay to have it done. Nothing extreme but sweep, vacuum, clean the bathrooms and especially the kitchen...refrigerator, stove, etc.

Jul 02, 2009 03:58 PM #59
Jeff Dowler, CRS
Solutions Real Estate - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude


I find it interesting how differently folks can handle these situations. Some sellers go out of their way, including shampooing rugs, getting windows washed and having a crew in, while others seem to delight in leaving as much crap behind as possible. Buyers also seem to have differing opinions about what they expect and how they react. Some are more much reasonable than others.

Most of the time I have been fortunate to welcome my buyers to a clean house, and, of course, working with sellers I always discuss the matter of leaving a welcoming house. Amd I have done my own share of cleaning, or arranging for cleaning.


Jul 02, 2009 04:44 PM #60
Mara Hawks
First Realty Auburn - Auburn, AL
Inactive-2012 REALTOR - Homes for Sale Auburn Real Estate, AL

Sometimes, on the contract, the buyers request that 'home be professionally cleaned' as one of the additional provisions. Having it in writing keeps the anxiety at bay. All the best for a safe & happy holiday, to you & your family, Rich!

Jul 04, 2009 06:59 AM #61
LLoyd Nichols
Premier Florida Realty of SWFL - Fort Myers, FL
SW Florida Homes

Rich: I have been involved in quite a few sales where I had to put in black in white in the Contract  in the remarks that the sellers had to remove their junk before leaving. In one case it was over $1000 to remove some trash and junk in a large property.  

I am glad you are tackling this subject. Either the real estate agent has to hire someone to clean the mess or do it himself or herself.It seems that some sellers think that once they have the money in their pocket they should leave a mess behind.

Some people will always be slobs but we can try to make sure they clean their pig pens before closing. I recall cleaning  under one home on stilts one afternoon because the buyers were going to walk out if the place was not cleaned up.  

Thank you for sharing this messy topic.

Jul 05, 2009 02:54 PM #62
Bonnie Ramsey
AnotherME - Marietta, GA

My daughter is thinking of moving her family to the Seattle area.  Would love to know if you think a move from TN to WA is worth it for a struggling art teacher who will have to get recertified to teach in another state then carry the burden of the cost of that long a move.  He'll probably have to start at a new teacher's pay as well.  All that and I have a friend who told me it ALWAYS rains there and that she hates it.  What say you?  Trusting you for your answers because of your great post about the "Golden Rule."

Jul 06, 2009 12:19 PM #63
Mark Velasco
Sharpstone Realty, Inc - Whittier, CA
Listing Agent-Whittier & Surrounding ciities

Good idea Rich. This will help protect your Clients from having to clean up someone else's mess.

Jul 12, 2009 07:25 PM #64
Steven L. Smith
King of the House Home Inspection, Inc. - Bellingham, WA
Bellingham WA Home Inspector


Frequently I am reminded of how complicated this field can be.

Jul 14, 2009 12:36 PM #65
Teral McDowell
Referral Patners LLC - Murphy, TX

A great application of the rule, thanks Rich.

Jul 14, 2009 02:25 PM #66
1~Judi Barrett
Integrity Real Estate Services 118 SE AVE N, Idabel, OK 74745 - Idabel, OK
BS Ed, Integrity Real Estate Services -IDABEL OK

Rich, This is so disappointing.  I've not had this happen but I'm sure that it will at some point.  I've had sellers do a better job of cleaning after it sold than  they did when we were marketing... one couple even did some painting after we had a contract on the house!

Jul 17, 2009 03:00 PM #67
Brian Schulman
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Lancaster PA - Lancaster, PA
Lancaster County PA RealEstate Expert 717-951-5552

There is always a question of when the final walk through should be scheduled.  Some want it early so there is time to work out any problems.  But if not done close to the settlement, there may be a recent problem that is not discovered until it's too late.

Jul 24, 2009 02:22 AM #68
Liz Moras Migic
Chilliwack, BC
Chilliwack, British Columbia - Realtor

Its so disappointing when that happens - so did you pay for the place to get cleaned? Most I find leave it clean - but once in a while we're in for a big surprise.

Aug 17, 2009 11:49 AM #69
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