To Clean or Not to Clean: Seller’s Responsibility After a Home Sale

salesman talking on phone

The process of selling a house is long and exhausting. After the sale, however, you and your loved ones have to move to your new home, which is also a very tiring activity. It can be tempting to take everything you need and go, leaving your former house in disarray. After all, the contracts have been signed, and the new owners are expected to tidy the property up to their standards.

Do You Have to Clean?

Yes, you do have to clean the house.

Often, you will find that, after you have packed all the stuff you want to bring to your new home, there is still a lot left behind. Most people use the move as an opportunity to declutter, but it might not be wise to leave old furniture that you no longer want behind.

Some contracts state that home sellers are required to leave the house “broom clean.” It means that the house should at least be tidy before they hand over the keys to the new owners. No one will send you to jail for forgetting to vacuum underneath the cupboards. However, you should not leave things in disarray, either. The floor should be at least swept, and the walls must be bare.

The language and the terms are different for each contract. For example, in California, it is standard to state that the house should be left in the same condition as when the buyer made an offer. The is required to remove all personal property not included in the sale of the house, including their debris.

In some cases, leaving the house in disarray might turn the buyer away. In some cases, the buyer might walk away from the sale because the house’s condition was unacceptable.

Clean the House Anyway

However, even if there is no legal requirement to clean, it is better to leave the house bare and ready for the next occupants to move into. Most sellers make extra efforts to present the house in the best condition possible.

It is better to remove personal properties, even if they can still be used, before the new owner moves in. More importantly, do not leave your trash behind. Understandably, the seller is tired, but it is unacceptable to expect the new owners to clean up your clutter. Make things easier by getting a bin to throw all your old stuff away. There are dumpster rental services that will send any size of bin to your home and then take it back once it is filled. Let the professionals figure out what to do with your garbage.

cleaning spray

You also should make an effort to wipe counters, shelves, and inside cabinets. Vacuum the walls and the floors. Mop these surfaces if you need to.

Do not forget to clean fixtures, too. The lights are rarely given attention, but it also accumulates dust. Grab a cloth and wipe it before moving away to your new home.

Clear the Garage

If the sale includes the garage, it needs to be in spick-and-span condition, too. People tend to store toxic chemicals in their garage, including paint. Some keep additional building materials such as flooring and roofing if they need to make repairs and replacements in the future.

The paint and other toxic chemicals definitely need to go. They might become a hazard, especially if the new owners did not know they were there.

The additional materials, on the other hand, might be useful to the next owner. They might have a plan to change the roof or the floor as soon as they move in. To be sure, talk to the buyer and let them know that there is extra roofing and flooring in the garage. If they want it, make an effort to organize the materials. The next owner will appreciate it.

Hands-off Outdoor Features

When it comes to features outdoors, there are some things that you should leave behind. Features secured in the ground are considered part of real estate and are expected to come with the house. So, the mailbox, the yard lights, and the fire pits will be left behind.

The new homeowners will also expect outdoor plantings to be there when they move in. Your trees and shrubs will unlikely survive in your new place, anyway, so leave them to give joy to the family who will live in the property next.

As a seller, you still have the responsibility to keep the house in the best condition possible. While it is not a requirement to clean, most sellers make an effort to tidy up because it is the polite thing to do.




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