Under Contract Does Not Mean "Stop Caring For Your Home"

Real Estate Agent with Howard Hanna Real Estate Services

Once a home officially goes under contract doesn’t mean a seller should turn their back on their responsibilities. Unfortunately, we have seen sellers do this quite a bit recently and it leads to problems, some that could even jeopardize the closing.

It’s easy to assume that once the paperwork is all signed you can sit back and just wait for the closing. However, there are a lot of things that can happen during the contract to close period, and most of them lead to negative consequences for the seller.


  1. Seller staying in the home during the inspection
  2. The home not being “show ready" during the inspection and appraisal
  3. Home is dirty during buyer’s walk through
  4. Driveway is not plowed
  5. Personal property had not been removed

Most sellers understand the importance of leaving their home for showings, so why would you stay for the inspection? Just because you are under contract doesn't mean you should forget about proper etiquette and procedures. Your presence at the home inspection could actually hinder a sale, so do yourself a favor and leave.

Another thing to remember is that any time you have someone coming in your home, you want it to look its best. Don’t give anyone a reason to have negative feelings about the way you care for and treat your home.

Also, please take the walk-through very seriously. Nothing is more demoralizing for a buyer than to walk through the home prior to closing and find that the home they fell in love with has been totally neglected. This includes lawn care, weeding, and cleaning of the home.

Failing to maintain your home sets a very bad tone and heightens emotions during the closing process. I have seen buyers refuse to sign documents and hold up the closing because of this ---not, something a seller wants to happen.



I realize that most sellers don’t purposely neglect their home. They just happen to be very focused on their upcoming move and get distracted. However, please understand that you still have responsibilities as a home owner. Don’t start to skimp on basic maintenance issues just because you are moving out.

Remember, the buyers fell in love with your home because of the way you initially presented it to them. So, please make sure you continue to care for it throughout the entire process.

Failing to keep up your home makes you look bad, upsets the buyers, and can lead to nothing but problems. So, have some class, do the right thing and ensure a smooth closing.

If you liked this post, please subscribe to our blog. We always appreciate having new readers and more importantly, enjoy making new friends.


Here are some of our others posts that may interest you as well:

One Question That You Absolutely Must Ask Your Clients

5 Reasons Why Using A Local Agent Is Better

Cool Virtual Tool To Help Pick Out Paint Color

Is Social Media Killing Confidentiality?

Real Estate Agents Are Not Just Door Openers



About The Authors:

Dan and Amy Schuman are agents with Howard Hanna, the area's largest real estate company. They live in Solon Ohio and specialize in Cleveland Luxury Homes, working with buyers relocating to Cleveland, and first-time buyers.




Subscribe via RSS! Follow Me On Twitter! Follow Us On Facebook! Follow Us On Linkedin! Subscribe To Our Youtube Channel!


Under Contract Does Not Mean "Stop Caring For Your Home" is the property of The Schuman Team and may not be duplicated or used without their written consent. ©September 2012




Re-Blogged 2 times:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Karen Feltman 09/12/2012 02:12 AM
  2. Joe Jackson 09/12/2012 10:22 PM
Home Selling
Ohio Active Rainers
Cuyahoga County Ohio Real Estate
Cleveland Ohio Real Estate
selling a home
sellers responsibilities

Spam prevention
Show All Comments
Bruce Kunz
C21 Solid Gold Realty, Brick, NJ, 732-920-2100 - Howell, NJ
REALTOR®, Brick & Howell NJ Homes for Sale

Well said, Dan & Amy. It's almost more important to keep the home clean and maintained for the period after the contract is inked. Keeping it up the way buyers remember it can make a huge (positive) difference by closing time.


Sep 12, 2012 03:36 AM #10
Adam Brett
The Adam and Eric Group - Fullerton, CA
The Adam and Eric Group, Fullerton's Finest

Definitely find myself relating to this post, I almost get to a point where I think I might be nagging my Sellers on this subject.

Sep 12, 2012 03:44 AM #11
Christine Smith
Buyers Brokers Only LLC - www.BuyersBrokersOnly.com - Canton, MA
Exclusive Buyer Agent & Attorney, Canton, MA

Dan & Amy....I have seen this cause problems too.  Once the inspection & appraisal are over, by all means, get out the boxes & start packing but remember to keep up with the lawn mowing & regular maintenance.

Sep 12, 2012 04:21 AM #12
Jerry Newman
Brown Realty, 210-789-4216,www.JeremiahNewman.com - San Antonio, TX
Texas REALTOR, San Antonio Military Relocation

Hi Dan and Amy, All sellers need to hear this. Why jeopardize the closing by failing to keep the home is showing condition? I certainly cannot understand why any seller would want to hang around for that inspection or the appraisal. By All Means, everything needs to be cleared out and cleaned for the final buyer's walk Through.

Sep 12, 2012 04:50 AM #13
Barb Merrill
Cactus Mountain Properties, LLC - Tempe, AZ
GRI, Associate Broker

Going over the terms in the Listing agreement up front with the sellers when they sign in agreement to keep the house clean and well-maintained should help them understand their contractural obligation to do so.  It may need to be re-emphasized throughout the selling process.

Sep 12, 2012 06:38 AM #14
Marie Fox
Foxy Interiors Inc. Lake Mary Florida - Lake Mary, FL
Lake Mary, Florida, Home Stager & RE Photographer
Timely blog: we recently had a neighborhood home display a sale pending sign on the for sale sign. The grass in 30 days grew 2' high. The city came by and tagged the door with a violation. Sale pending sign came down and the house is back on the market with the lawn now mowed. Not sure what happened here but someone got neglectful.
Sep 12, 2012 08:37 AM #15
Debbie Reynolds
Platinum Properties - Clarksville, TN
Your Dedicated Clarksville TN Real Estate Agent

Dan and Amy, Great post and sellers need to heed the advice given here that the job isn't finished until it closes and is funded.

Sep 12, 2012 10:08 AM #16
Dan and Amy Schuman
Howard Hanna Real Estate Services - Solon, OH
Luxury Home Specialists

Harry - Keeping it clean is the least they can do.

Chuck - The lawn seems to be a huge issue here, especially with the lack of rain we've had all summer.

Tammie - You give your sellers very good advice, I wish more agents here were like you.

Gary - Yes, I imagine that you don't have a problem with snow, you are very lucky, but most of the other things likely apply to all sellers.

Georgia Elite - What, no snow in GA?

Bryan - I don't get why sellers/renters think their presence in the home will help. Thanks for commenting.

Kathy - If only every seller agreed.

Vanessa - You'd think all sellers would have this attitude.

Adrian -  Thanks for reading and your comments. We appreciate it.

Bruce - I guess it's up to us agents to clearly communicate this with our sellers. Perhaps many agents just assume their sellers will do the right thing but a friendly reminder should be something that everyone does.

Adam -Better to nag then have them neglect their home.

Christine - It's certainly no fun being at the walk through and see the house in total disarray. Thanks for commenting and hope all is well with you.

Jerry - I am very confident that you are the type of agent who makes sure the sellers maintain their home through closing.

Barb - Well said.

Marie - After all that work getting a buyer under contract, seems like a shame to put the sale at risk. I wonder if that was the main reason the buyers in your case walked?

Debbie - Thanks for your kind words and comments.

Sep 12, 2012 10:30 AM #17
Monique Keith
Ahwatukee, AZ
Ahwatukeenulls Favorite Realtor, Buyers Agent with

Dan and Amy, Great reminder about the little things that can cause BIG problems. 

Sep 12, 2012 10:33 AM #18
Melissa Marro
Keller Williams First Coast Realty - The Marro Team - Orange Park, FL
Jacksonville Real Estate and Home Staging

Good advice! I agree that most of the time it is about being focused on moving and not malicious, it still needs to be done, however. 

Sep 12, 2012 10:53 AM #19
Sharon Alters
Coldwell Banker Vanguard Realty - 904-673-2308 - Fleming Island, FL
Realtor - Homes for Sale Fleming Island FL

Sellers want to start dismantling the house the moment they get an offer - not so fast. the house needs to look gorgeous for the appraiser also!


Sep 12, 2012 01:31 PM #20
Karen Anne Stone
New Home Hunters of Fort Worth and Tarrant County - Fort Worth, TX
Fort Worth Real Estate

Dan & Amy:  One of the major problems that can happen when buyers do a final walk-thru just before closing... and find the house in disarray... is that seeing it like that can cause their minds to wander, and they wonder about other things that might be wrong... things that are not obvious to the eye during walk-thru.

It really isn't a "little thing".. and it can easily lead to problems.  It's never a good thing to plant doubts in a buyer's mind.

Sep 12, 2012 02:50 PM #21
Christine Donovan
Donovan Blatt Realty - Costa Mesa, CA
Broker/Attorney 714-319-9751 DRE01267479 - Costa M

Dan and Amy - Fortunately, most sellers do seem to continue to take care of their homes though it's more of a problem with short sales.

Sep 12, 2012 03:18 PM #22
Sharon Parisi
United Real Estate Dallas - Dallas, TX
Dallas Homes

Dan and Amy, this is a good article and list for all Sellers to read.  I have had Sellers who also neglected lawn care before closing and that does not sit well with Buyers.

Sep 12, 2012 09:26 PM #23
Roger D. Mucci
Shaken...with a Twist 216.633.2092 - Euclid, OH
Lets shake things up at your home today!

I'm sure you've seen this happen more than once..........congratulations on a well deserved Feature.

Sep 12, 2012 09:38 PM #24
Andrew Mooers | 207.532.6573
Northern Maine Real Estate-Aroostook County Broker

Life happens, delays in closing and suddenly the seller can figure no way the home sale is not going to get to the finish line. Not so fast, a lot can happen between the lift of the cup, the slip of the lip.

Sep 12, 2012 10:27 PM #25
David Cole
David Cole CPA - Orlando, FL
David Cole CPA
Great advice for seller who are under contract. Maintains the home is important
Sep 16, 2012 04:37 AM #26
Mary Yonkers
Alan Kells School of Real Estate/Howard Hanna Real Estate - Erie, PA
Erie/PA Real Estate Instructor

Hey Dan & Amy, great post.  Congratulations on another featured post.  You rock the Cleveland market. 

Oct 15, 2012 09:32 AM #27
M. Lynn Delatte
Developers Realty - Broadview Heights, OH

When I bought one home for my family, the owners were there when the inspetion was done.  They were such an unpleasant family and gave off such "Bad vibes"  that I thought breifly about pulling out of purchasing the home.

Oct 26, 2012 10:46 PM #28
Gabrielle Kamahele Rhind
KGC Properties LLC, Tucson Property Management & Real Estate - Tucson, AZ

GOOD MORNING DAN!  Isn't that the truth!?  I agree - I don't think most Sellers neglect intentionally - they get distracted!

Oct 29, 2012 11:22 PM #29
Show All Comments

What's the reason you're reporting this blog entry?

Are you sure you want to report this blog entry as spam?


Dan and Amy Schuman

Luxury Home Specialists
Ask Us A Question
Spam prevention

Additional Information