Most of us know that when it comes time to list your property you should clean up the house, duh... But how much responsibility falls on the homeowner and how much should the agent really help?
This was posed in our office this week my homeowner who felt that the listing agent should clean the house if they want to list and sell the property. It brought on a good debate about how much the agent should really do to help the seller. I'll admit, in the early days when we first got started in the real estate business, we would do quite a bit to gain the sale and get as much from the profit. I remember one of my very first listings was an older gentleman that had a very small house of just under 900 ft.² but he had lived in it for 30 years and he had also smoked in the home. It was very difficult for him to clean the house so I got on my hands and knees and scrubbed the kitchen floors, shampoo the carpets, organized bedrooms, staged beds, and did my very best to get as much of a cigarette smell out of the property. Would I do that today? It all depends on the situation but more likely we would consider hiring either a professional stager and/or a maid service. The property only brought $112,000 at the sale so it's not like we had a lot of money to work with for staging, cleaning, and repairs.
I believe in today's society, and agency due diligence is to tell the homeowner what the property needs in order to gain the max amount of profit and then offer referrals for repairs, cleanings, and maybe a stager. Real estate agents should not have the responsibility of actually cleaning the house but in cases such as short sales or foreclosures, often times the homeowner will leave the property as is and it is up to the agent or the next buyer to take care of whatever is left over.
In our world of short sales just 10 years ago, many homeowners simply left everything on-site. Properties were filled to the max with the junk and trash that needed to be hauled off. It can be a unique tug-of-war when it comes to who's paying for the removal of all the trash. This is something that should be written into the contract but I also informed my buyers that should they choose a short sale or foreclosure, they run the risk of this type of property and the downfalls that can come with it.
Bottom line, the homeowner wants to get the very most from the sale of the property they need to take on the responsibility of cleaning it and presenting it as best as they can. If they can do it themselves, real estate agent should find creative ways to offer their insight, suggestions, and resources.