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Expectations of Home Cleanliness on Closing Day

Real Estate Agent with Coldwell Banker Select

I have run into this a few times over the years, the gap between the expectation of cleanliness between buyer and seller is not specifically mentioned in the contract and can cause a problem.

Many times, buyers and sellers are extremely busy moving from one dwelling to another and there is a wide variance for the cleanliness of a home that a seller will leave for the buyer.  Some sellers will consider that the home needs to be in immaculate condition and other sellers will do the minimum possible in order to sell the house.  People live in their homes with varying degrees of order and have different standards.

A good clue is when a buyer first steps into a prospective home.  Now, if they proceed to purchase the home, the home should be in the equivalent condition that it was in at the time of the first viewing.  If there are pets, or the house is smoky from cigarette smoke and the buyer expects these issues to be remedied prior to the closing, it must be addressed in the offer!  For instance, one could write in, "Carpet to be professionally cleaned prior to close."

Mainly, I advise my buyers upfront that the sellers may not have the same idea of what is clean and just to be prepared for a range of cleanliness when you walk through it prior to close.

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Kathy Stoltman
Ventura, CA

Peter, this can be a touchy issue at closing. I had a buyer, who just went nuts when he saw the condition of the condo he just purchased.  It was broom cleaned, not messy at all. He on the other hand, left the place he was renting a mess, with holes in the wall from his violent outburts, etc.

Needless to say, I calmed him down with regards to his new purchase and after that cut the ties with him. He was having buyers remorse and wanted to create problems.

May 28, 2013 03:12 AM
Peter Tamura
Coldwell Banker Select - Tulsa, OK

Hi Kathy,

Yes, it's a shame if you feel like you did a good job for a client and guided them through a tough transaction and they are upset at the end over something you have little control.  Your particular case seems to be an anger management issue!  It is an emotional process, but people have to keep it in perspective.


May 28, 2013 04:13 AM
Inna Ivchenko
Barcode Properties - Encino, CA
Realtor® • GRI • HAFA • PSC Calabasas CA

Well, it is true, that if the buyers want their new property professionally cleaned they must suggest adding it to the contract( yep, in writing with both seller and buyer signatures). Otherwise, they need to be ready to take care of this issue and order a cleaning service in advance.

Dec 11, 2013 04:55 PM