Many real estate contracts use the term broom clean or broom swept to describe the condition of how a property is to be left. But what does broom-clean really mean for a home seller or a home buyer?
It is a very ambiguous term. And, while you will often find the term broom clean condition in a contract there is no legal definition. It does leave the delivery in a gray area if any issues would arise. And if a home seller does not leave the home in broom clean condition, there could be consequences at the closing table.
What Does Broom Clean Mean?
Broom clean at a minimum means the property should be free of all personal items and debris. At a bare minimum, floors should be swept or vacuumed and all surfaces wiped clean.
Whenever the transfer of property is involved it is very important to read your contract. The details of the delivery of a home will be somewhere in your purchase contract. Also use your REALTOR and attorney as a resource if you have any question about what the expectation should be the transfer of a home should be.
Let’s take a quick look at the standard language of a Massachusetts Purchase and Sale Agreement in regard to the delivery of the premises. Remember, each state may be slightly different regarding the language.
Delivery of Premises in The Massachusetts Purchase and Sales Agreement
At the time for performance the SELLER shall give the BUYER possession of the entire Premises, free of all occupants and tenants and of all personal property, except property included in the sale or tenants permitted to remain. At the time for performance the Premises also shall comply with the requirements of paragraph 6, and be broom clean and in the same condition as the Premises now are, reasonable wear and tear excepted, with the SELLER to have performed all maintenance customarily undertaken by the SELLER between the date of this Agreement and the time for performance, and there shall be no outstanding notices of violation of any building, zoning, health or environmental law, bylaw, code or regulation, except as agreed.
So the term broom clean is used, but really there is no indication of what is to be expected. It is extremely vague, leaving no real guidance to what broom clean condition really means.
What Does Broom Clean Mean for Home Sellers?
At a bare minimum a seller should leave a home first and foremost free of all personal belongings and debris.
That means don’t leave the unwanted furniture that is too difficult to get rid of or the construction debris under the deck from a project 10 years ago or every household chemical and paint you have acquired over the years. The house should be delivered empty.
The floors should be vacuumed and/or swept, and surfaces wiped down. The expectation is set in the contract, by saying the home should be delivered in the manner that was least seen at the home inspection.
So broom clean would come down to are you leaving any evidence you were there? Are there food crumbs on the floor, food spills on the counter or refrigerator, hair in the bathroom sink, your kids dirty handprints on the wall, the accumulation of dust and cobwebs, etc….
If you are leaving anything that may be in question, avoid any trouble and just ask the buyers if they want it or if it should be removed.
Broom Clean Condition for Home Buyers
Broom clean condition would be a minimum standard. As a home buyer, do not expect a home to be professionally cleaned. The term broom clean is vague at best. What about the oven being cleaned, or the refrigerator being thoroughly wiped down, or the window cleaned inside and out?
It certainly would be nice if the seller did all of that for you, but, that would fall under a professional cleaning and not under broom clean condition.
You will most likely want to hire a cleaning service or do a thorough cleaning yourself after a seller has delivered a home to you in broom clean condition.
Fall Back To The Contract
When it comes to real estate and any dispute that may arise, often your purchase contract will have something to say about it. The purchase contract is a legal and binding agreement that will dictate how the transfer will take place.
If as a home buyer you have certain expectations of how the home is delivered, spell it out in your contract. I have had buyers negotiate a professional cleaning or the removal of certain items like a cord of rotten firewood by closing.
Technically the firewood would be classified as a personal belonging and should go, but if it is in question re-iterate in the contract that the firewood should be removed by closing.
A home buyer should be allowed a final walk through of the home just prior to closing. Occasionally, a seller may not deliver the home in broom clean condition. This would put a seller at risk of defaulting on a contract.
A few dead flies on a window sill is not a reason to halt a closing, but a garage filled with personal belongings and debris may. Most final walk through issues involving the delivery of a home are solved by delaying the closing to rectify the issue, or a hold back of the sellers proceeds to give the buyer time to rectify the issue and be reimbursed any expenses.
If an issue should arise, consult with your attorney and real estate agent about the best course of action.
Broom clean condition is vague at best and leaves a lot to interpretation. As home buyer’s most likely you will be disappointed. You aren’t getting a full professional cleaning and the home will probably not be completely turnkey. You will want to do a thorough cleaning before occupying the home.
Home sellers, do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Leave the premises the way you would want to find it if you were the home buyer.
Other Real Estate Resources
- Buying or selling a home means moving. Moving can be tedious. Being organized about your move can certainly take the sting out of moving. Danny Margaliono provides a moving checklist that will help create a smooth transition from one home to another.
- If you are buying a first home or downsizing, the debate in your mind is should you buy a condo vs a single family home. Michelle Gibson provides some pros and cons of buying a single family home versus a condo.
- This incredibly hot real estate market has buyers scrambling to secure a home. It may be tempting to put offers in on more than one home at the same time in hopes of one being accepted. Petra Norris discusses the downside of writing multiple offers.
Broom Clean Condition, What Does It Mean? Is written by Kevin Vitali of EXIT Realty. Are you thinking of buying or selling a home? Give me a call today and let’s get started on helping you achieve your housing goals. Call me at 978-360-0422