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Deciphering the Concept of “Broom Swept” Condition

Broom and dustpan cartoonWhen you accepted the Offer To Purchase you agreed to deliver your home in substantially the same condition it was in when your buyer wrote the offer, excluding normal wear and tear, and in what’s called broom swept condition. Additionally it has to be free of all debris and personal property except for personal property belonging to current tenants or property sold to the Buyer or left with the Buyer’s consent.

But what does Broom Swept Mean?

This isn’t legal advice: it’s just my opinion but I don’t think I have ever encountered a seller that didn’t want to leave their home looking nicely “broom swept,” but I have had some seller clients get so anxious over what is expected under the rubric of broom swept that they start a “white glove” effort to clean everything from stem to stern. I suppose broom swept could be taken very literally and simply mean that you have to sweep everything. Probably most of us associate “broom swept” with floors, but broom swept could apply to anything that could be swept clean, including kitchen cabinets, appliances, etc. Of course today we have cleaning instruments that are Man with vacuum cleanerconsiderably more effective than a broom to whisk out crumbs and clean off counter-tops. And I think by extension, you can use sponges, mops, vacuum cleaners, etc., without reservation to achieve the broom swept condition. Keep in mind if you have agreed in your Offer To Purchase to do certain things like shampoo the carpets or have the gutters cleaned, that’s a different story.

Here’s what I tell my Sellers about Broom Swept Condition:

I don’t believe broom swept means the home has to be in pristine condition. I think washing windows and cleaning light fixtures, shampooing carpets or getting every cobweb out of every corner in the basement is optional at best. Of course these are all very considerate things to do but I think everyone would agree they would exceed the concept of broom swept.

collection of cleaning toolsIn my mind, broom swept is not a whole lot more than you would normally do to clean your house on an everyday basis. Broom swept is not a “spring cleaning” of every nook and cranny. By broom swept, Buyers will expect to see the place in about the same condition it was in when you were showing it and they wrote their offer. (I always remind my sellers that the new home owners might receive some of their mail by mistake or packages over the holidays. It’s a good idea to stay on pleasant terms with the new buyers.)

Fixtures and Holes in the Walls

While not exactly a broom swept topic, please keep in mind that anything secured to a wall or ceiling with screws or nails, which would leave holes or would mar the surface if removed is most likely a “fixture” and was included in the sale. While sellers can’t swap out light fixtures and such after acceptance, the “fixture rule” does not apply to pictures and wall decorations that are hanging on picture hangershome sweet home cartoon picture (or small nails.)

Sellers often ask what to do with picture hangers? Here’s the thing: With nothing on a wall it is very hard to focus directly on the wall surface unless you are about four feet away. If the walls are light colored, I suggest gently pulling picture hangers and finger-spackling the holes—it takes about three seconds and there is no sanding or painting required. If the walls are dark, I just leave the holes as they are tiny and the spackle will be substantially more noticeable than the hole.

Ok, So You Want a List: Here’s the Broom Swept Checklist I Give my Sellers if they Ask…

Clean the inside of the home before moving out

  •  Remove all personal property
  •  Vacuum the floors
  •  Clean kitchen appliances, inside the refrigerator, microwave, oven/range; and the washer and dryerCartoon Clipboard and pencil
  •  Wipe down all kitchen surfaces
  •  Clean sinks, tubs & toilets
  •  Wipe down interiors of cabinets and shelves
  •  Mop washable flooring (tile, vinyl)
  •  Dispose of all trash and personal property not contractually stipulated to be included in the sale
  •  Replace missing or burned-out light bulbs
  •  Repair any move-out damage (marks, scratches or holes)

Cleaning the Yard and Garage

  •  Remove all personal belongings
  •  Dispose of toxic chemicals, old paint, etc., unless the buyer specifically indicates it is okay to leave them
  •  Sweep all floors
  •  Neatly stack up any replacement materials (tiles, shingles, molding, etc.)
  •  If the grass is long, one last mowing is always appreciated

Clean Unto Others as You Would Have the Clean Unto You

Mop and bucket cartoonIn essence, broom swept boils down to leaving the home in the condition in which you would like to find your new home. It is part obligation, part courtesy and part closure on your relationship with your old home before your take up housekeeping in your new home. Everyone likes a broom swept home!

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