“Substantially the Same Condition” & The Golden Rule

“I know it when I see it.”

—Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart, on the legal definition of what constitutes pornography.

“Buyer has the right to a walk-through review of the property prior to closing to establish that the property is in substantially the same condition as of the date of this Purchase Agreement.”

—Minnesota Purchase Agreement, lines 357. — 359.

[Note to Readers: The views expressed here are solely those of Ross Kaplan, and do not represent Edina Realty, Berkshire Hathaway, or any other entity referenced. If you need legal advice, please consult an attorney.]

Unfortunately, not everything in real estate ” or life! ” lends itself to a bright line test, or clearly articulated legal standards.

Like, “substantially the same condition.”

Case in point: how clean is clean when it comes to Sellers handing their now-empty home over to Buyers?

After 18+ years in real estate and hundreds of closings, the best guidance I can offer is still “The Golden Rule” ” that is, what would make the Seller happy if the tables were reversed?

Double Standard Risk

In fact, the tables are often reversed, because Sellers frequently buy something else in quick order (or already have).

In practice, the most problematic situation is when “tight” Buyers purchase from “loose” Sellers.

As Sellers, such owners take pride in leaving their home in immaculate condition (of course).

As Buyers, then, it can be upsetting if their Seller subsequently leaves their new home less than pristine.

It also smacks of unfairness.

Which is why it’s smart for Buyers to do their walk-thru inspection well in advance of closing if they anticipate issues.

P.S.: Fortunately, more than a little self-selection operates in residential real estate.

So, sloppy Sellers tend not to attract fastidious Buyers because their homes don’t pass muster early on.

See also, “Substantially the Same Condition”*; “Walk-Thru?  What’s a Walk-Thru??”; “Home Buyer’s Final Walk-Through Inspection“; “What if the Seller Isn’t Moved Out by Closing?“; “Springing a Leak ” or a Lake(?!?) ” Before Closing“; and “Waiting to Do the Walk-Thru Inspection ” or Not Doing it at All.”

About the author

Ross Kaplan has 19+ years experience selling real estate all over the Twin Cities. He is also a 12-time consecutive "Super Real Estate Agent," as determined by Mpls. - St. Paul Magazine and Twin Cities Business Magazine. Prior to becoming a Realtor, Ross was an attorney (corporate law), CPA, and entrepreneur. He holds an economics degree from Stanford.

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