How clean are you required to leave your house upon moving out? While some foreclosed homes may sell “as is”, and quite literally so, different standards apply to homes that belong to actual sellers.
Read the Purchase & Sale Contract. This document clearly lists the seller’s responsibilities, which include leaving a reasonably clean home for the next owner, just as you might expect from the current owner of your new residence. Essentially, it will state that “Sellers must leave the premises broom clean” (wording may vary). This means that the personal belongings of all occupants have been removed and that floors, walls, ceilings, fixtures and appliances are visibly clean.
In reality, between your usual responsibilities and placing your home on the market, you have likely endured a good measure of additional stress and cleaning simply may not feel like a priority you are able to embrace at this time. You barely have enough energy to lift the next box!
Nevertheless, it is a matter of courtesy, one that most of us readily embrace simply because it is the right thing to do. The majority of sellers will go to great lengths to make sure their home is impeccable for the next owner. As a matter of fact, you are probably reading this thinking, “Well of course. That goes without saying”.
I read somewhere that psychologists believe most of us are unable to leave behind a less than impeccable home, even though the buyers are likely complete strangers we may never see again. This would be like revealing our own imperfections. It is natural to focus on our attributes instead. A clean home is a reflection of self-esteem and confidence, they explain. When you think of it, this makes sense. Your home is an extension of yourself. Here is where you can focus your attention to make sure all is in good order:
- Remove all personal belongings from all rooms – Bring unwanted items to Goodwill, family or neighbors. If appropriate, ask the new owners whether they might be interested in the living room set, for example. This may be an appealing offer for a young couple purchasing their first home. But do not assume new owners will appreciate what you leave behind. Ask and obtain written agreement.
- Vacuum, sweep, and remove cobwebs (including from walls, windows, fixtures and ceilings).
- Clean counter tops, baths and sinks.
- Dust cabinets and clean knobs.
- Throw away trash. This means “away”, not at the curb. Also remove any toxic chemicals such as leftover paints.
As a rule, leave your house in the same condition as you would like to find it if it were your new home. If this is too overwhelming at the time, consider hiring a cleaning service for the finishing touches. Cleaning is one area where it can pay to spend a few extra dollars. You will have peace of mind knowing that you leave a welcoming and clean environment behind, one that meets your own standards.