Why This Epidemic is Leaving Home Sales in a Mess

There is a standard of care that both home sellers and listing agents need to address
September 25, 2017

There is an epidemic happening all over Greater Vancouver in real estate sales, and no doubt in other regions too, and for the life of me I cannot figure it out.

Here’s the issue.

Someone pays anywhere from $300,000 to millions of dollars for a house or condo, gives the seller the dates needed to align with their next move in life with plenty of notice, and yet the seller leaves the home in an unacceptably messy state. So the buyer has to move into a dirty home because the seller was too cheap to pay $150 to $300 to clean their home and had no pride in handing over their home in a clean manner the new owners.

Too many times have I heard “the seller cleaned it themselves and said it was clean” from listing agents. That is great… but what most people do not know is that a surface clean is not a move-out/move-in clean. Cleaning it yourself is never ever, ever good enough.

As a seller, you should have much more pride in handing over your home. And as a REALTOR® representing the vendor, you should have walked through the home after the seller had said they are all done, realized it was not a move-out clean and then taken responsibility to get it cleaned. Listing agents should also have pride how they hand over their listings to new home owners.

This rant is not coming from one isolated occurrence, but over the last couple of years I have seen it too many times and it is getting to the point of ridiculousness.

Most contracts should include that the home will be left in a clean and tidy state. If I’m the buyer’s agent, I always try and get the words “professionally cleaned” into the contract, but for some reason it is always crossed out by the selling agent and their clients. 

What Sellers Should Do

Hire a professional cleaner to clean your home or investment property once everything is moved out. Tell the cleaner it is a “move-out clean” that includes:

•cleaning appliances inside and out so they are sparkling;
•dusting the blinds, tops of door and window frames, etc.;
•cleaning inside the cabinets and cupboards;
•washing the baseboards;
•and most importantly a deep, deep, deep clean of the bathroom(s).

DO NOT clean the home yourself! You have been living there, you’re used to your own mess, and the standard of cleanliness is very different when handing over a home to a new owner.

What Listing Agents Should Do

As a solution, these days I offer cleaning services as part of my services for buyers and sellers I always have cleaners ready for my buyers when they are getting keys because I know the selling agent will not get it done for us (but they will get the cleaning bill sent their way). When my sellers move out of their home the last thing they want to do is clean, so I always send in a professional cleaner to take the load off them, as a gift, to thank them for hiring me to market and sell their home.  

I hope all other REALTORS® start picking up this tab as it saves so many headaches and it also rubs off of the agent if the home is handed over in a terrible state. So not only should the home seller have pride, the listing agent should have some as well. Besides, many agents don't even pay for professional photography, floor plans or videos... so perhaps use that money saved on a cleaner.


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