What is “Broom Clean?”

Posted on January 19th, 2011

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I was with a buyer client last week, and we were touring a house that had not necessarily been lovingly well-maintained and was full of “stuff,” for lack of a better word.  After taking in the state of the home’s interior, she asked me if she were to buy the house would it be clean.  In response to her question, I promptly mentioned the term, “Broom Clean,” which is the condition in which sellers are required to leave their homes when the closing takes place.

It is clearly stated in the Purchase and Sale (P&S) Agreement – which is generally signed two weeks after the offer has been accepted and within which time the home inspection has taken place – that “the Seller shall deliver possession of the Premises in broom clean condition, free of all debris, personal effects and other tangible items which are not sold to Buyer or left on the Premises with Buyer’s prior written permission.”  I just took this language verbatim from one of my recent P&S agreements, but as I read it over, it sounds pretty general to me – in other words, open to interpretation.  And this is exactly what happens, which is what I then said to my client.  Some sellers take the concept of “broom clean” to an extreme.  Not only do they remove everything from the premises, but they hire cleaners to clean every surface, cabinet, drawer, etc.  If you are buying this particular seller’s house, then it is your lucky day.

What tends to happen most of the time, however, is that the sellers remove their items – or the majority of them – but don’t do a deep clean of the interior.  And so I usually find that my buyer clients either do the deep clean themselves or they hire someone to do it.  And then other times, there are sellers who do not remove everything thinking that some items “go with the house” especially since those items were there when they bought the house.  Some of these items* might be extra floor tiles, leftover wallpaper segments or carpet remnants.  This is why the walk-through is essential.  The walk-through usually takes place the day before or the morning of the closing; in essence, whenever the seller has moved out.  This is the buyer’s chance to tour the property and make sure the premises are in “broom clean” condition.  If the property is not in “broom clean” condition, then the seller needs to remedy the situation, which can mean multiple trips to the dump with car loads of boxes, small rugs, doormats, mirrors and more.

The bottom line is that it all usually works out in the long-run, but the term “broom clean” is subjective enough that sometimes it can throw a curveball into the closing process at the last minute.  Has anything like this happened to you when you have bought or sold?  I can’t wait to hear….

*Paint is another item but because it is considered a hazardous waste, the buyers and sellers generally have a conversation about what to do with the non-empty paint cans prior to the closing. Some buyers want the paint cans to stay so they can do touch-up painting; others do not.

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5 Responses to “What is “Broom Clean?””

  1. Shar Heslam

    Great post! We recently purchased a house that was left extremely clean. I guess we were the lucky buyers. Unfortunately, the paint had all been discarded; that was fine except I wish we’d had a chance to write down the paint colors for touch up purposes. So, that would be my tip – write down the paint colors before the cans get tossed!

  2. margo

    I agree that the house should be absolutely broom clean and it seems foolish not to have it so…nobody likes to look at somebody’s junk or worse, still, dirt……Would it be possible for the agent to hire a cleaning service if its really awful and charge it to the owner or take it out of her revenue????? It’s hard enough to sell a house these days, let alone try to convince the potential buyer to overlook a mess……

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