Do sellers need to clean their house before departing?


Dear David: We purchased a home a couple of months ago and it’s closing next week. It looked immaculate when it was on the market, but we did a walk-through over the weekend and the house was filthy. Are the sellers obliged to clean it up before we take possession? – CLEAN START

DEAR CLEAN: Buying a new home is exciting, and I’m sure the last month or so has been filled with preparations and plans for your move.

I know how disappointing it can for a buyer to go on a walk-through and discover what appears to be a completely different house from the one they purchased. I’ve even seen clients go back to the listing photos, to make sure they’re in the same house!

Truth be told, the way someone lives in a house may be vastly different from the way that home is sold. When preparing a property for market, we have it cleaned and staged, and pay special attention to all the details that make it look its best. Getting ready to meet potential buyers is like sprucing up for a first date by putting on your best clothes and getting a fresh haircut. Fast forward two months, and you’re seeing a house that is “in a relationship”, which may be the housecleaning equivalent of track pants and a five o’clock shadow.

When writing a purchase agreement, I always oblige the seller to leave the home in a “clean and broom swept condition”. This means they must clear out anything the buyer didn’t purchase, such as old freezers, excess moving boxes or bags of leaves in the garage.

As a buyer, you have the chance to ensure that these expectations are met when you do your final walk-through. If concerns arise, your agent can connect with the listing agent to make sure any issues are resolved prior to closing.

In your case, it sounds like the you and the seller may have different definitions of “clean”. I suggest using this as a reason to treat yourself. Book a cleaning service to spend a half-day in the house before you arrive, so the kitchen and bathrooms will be gleaming when you walk through the door.


I’ve seen many houses in total chaos shortly before the sellers depart, but it would be rare for a homeowner to leave their pride and joy in such an abysmal state.

If you’re worried about what condition the house will be in when you get it, there are ways to communicate this message with diplomacy and common sense. An extra nudge from an experienced agent will often solve the problem. No one wants complications at closing. #Advice #AskDavid #TheNegotiator

David is a top-selling Broker in Kitchener-Waterloo Region. He works personally with you when selling or buying your home. Call or text today for your free home evaluation! 519-577-1212.