During the tale-end of a recent transaction, my Buyers and I conducted our final walk-thru. Aside from a few staging items, the house looked to be in fairly good shape. Until we got to the garage....
Much to our dismay, there was an abundance of sundry items - a size-able inventory of leftover paint, numerous boxes of assorted worthless knickknacks, remnants of scrap wood and drywall, a medicine chest, a box of stick-on vinyl tiles, several used mirrors, a sliding shower door, and a pallet.
Normally, it's customary/helpful for Sellers to leave a small collection of the most recent paint that has been used. Unfortunately, this stockpile had been amassing since the house was first built back in the '70's!
A conversation with the Listing Broker made it clear that the issue wasn't going to be resolved by her or the Sellers. I was told that the Sellers left all the items behind thinking that the new owners could 'use' them. This was a case of obviously pushing the envelope of what constitutes a 'useful' item. She stated that we could either delay closing until the Sellers could arrange time to resolve things, or move forward with closing (the next day), and let the Buyers deal with it.
After closing, my Buyers put everything into a big pile on the side of the house. I made a trip to Habitat for Humanity to donate the medicine chest, vinyl tiles, and scrap lumber. Kitsap County has a Hazardous Waste Disposal Facility over by the Bremerton Airport that takes cans of leftover paint (I learned that you need to call ahead if you plan on bringing over 50 gallons or more, and it has to be from a private residence). And lastly, a trip to the local garbage transfer station to dispense of the rest.
It wasn't a costly resolve. Just my time and a few coins to the County. But it's what we do. It's what is right.
It used to be, back in the day, that people actually cared about how they left a home when they sold it. I remember when we sold our home in Kansas, I was there the final day until 4am, cleaning the floors, shampooing the carpets, etc. For me, it was a matter of pride and conscience. I wanted the new owners to be happy with their purchase, and love the home as much as we had.
But in our culture today, I see a disturbing trend where Sellers just don't care. And agents and brokers who simply pass the buck.
As a Listing Broker, I believe that the manner in which a property is conveyed is a direct reflection on you. Irregardless of whether your Sellers are missing in action, you should still sense an obligation to the Buyers to ensure that the home is ready to be occupied, without difficulty or drama.
Here in WA State, there is actually verbiage in the contract (Form 22D Optional Clauses Addendum) that addresses the condition of the property at closing:
Seller Cleaning: Seller shall clean the interiors of any structures, and remove all trash, debris, and rubbish from the property prior to the Buyer taking possession.
In the end, I guess it all just boils down to a person's individual perspectives and definitions. After all, ones man's garbage is another man's treasure!