Buyer’s Walk-Thru Inspection Multiple Choice
Which of the following is an acceptable reason for the Seller to leave their home in (much) less than pristine condition for the new owner:
A. Their Seller left the home a mess for them when they bought (call it, “the anti-Golden Rule”).
B. They ran out of time.
C. They have three small kids (see, “B.”).
D. The Seller was unhappy with the sales price.
Answer: none of the above.
The Golden Rule . . . & Its Opposite
Unfortunately for Sellers, any past issues — either with the Buyer or even their Seller, once upon a time — are water under the bridge by the time closing arrives.
Instead, the usual standard for leaving behind a vacant, about-to-be-sold home is, “If you were the Buyer, how clean would the house have to be to make you happy?”
In practice, I tell clients to shoot for/expect > “8.” on a 1. – 10. scale.
Ounce of Prevention
Fortunately in the land of Minnesota Nice, dirty and/or debris-strewn homes pre-closing are a rarity.
When it occurs, the appropriate responses are to: 1) call the Seller on it; and 2) if there’s not enough time for the Seller to address it — and the condition isn’t truly atrocious (warranting a delayed closing) — for the Seller to write a check to the Buyer so they can have the home cleaned, post-closing.
It may also be appropriate to have the Seller contractually promise to remove any debris left behind (for example, old paint cans, that must be dropped off at a hazardous waste facility).
P.S.: Just like leopards don’t change their spots, unkempt homemakers usually don’t change theirs. Translation: Buyers usually have an inkling, well before closing, that the home’s walk-thru inspection may be problematic.
When that’s the case, a proactive Buyer’s agent can work with the listing agent to head off any issues, move up the walk-thru inspection to allow more time to resolve problems, etc.
See also, “Home Buyer’s Final Walk-Through Inspection“; “What if the Seller Isn’t Moved Out by Closing?“; and “Springing a Leak — or a Lake(?!?) — Before Closing.”