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Real Estate FAQs: House Cleaning Before a Home Sale

Posted by Hannah Taylor on November 29, 2021
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House Cleaning Before a Home Sale

You’re so busy with viewings, inspections, and contracts that it may totally slip your mind: who’s responsible for tidying the house? As buyers, we may automatically assume that the sellers will handle the job. However, that’s not always the case! Today, we’ll clear up a bit of the confusion by answering some of the most frequently-asked questions about house cleaning before a home sale.

Q: Does the seller have to clean the home before they sell?

A: This may surprise you! The answer is usually no—with one major exception.

Q: In what case are home sellers obligated to clean the home before they sell?

A: Buyers can stipulate in their contract that the sellers will clean their house prior to the sale. If this is a big priority for you, discuss it with your Realtor. That way, you can properly prepare for the journey ahead of you.

Q: Do I have to pay for a house cleaning?

A: This is one of the biggest FAQs about house cleaning before a home sale. After all, everyone prefers a little extra money in their pocket! No, in some cases you may not have to pay for one, but you may want to.

Q: What are my options?

You’ll have four main choices:

  • The buyer pays. In this case, the buyer—you! pays out of pocket. You can ask your Realtor to request that the sellers knock that cost off the final sales price. This will involve you getting quotes and receipts to document that figure!
  • The seller pays. Alternatively, the seller may feel more comfortable hiring a company to clean. However, they may add that sum to your overall home price.
  • The buyer cleans. It’s a whole lot more work—but it sure is cheaper! This is the budget-friendly option, but it also has an added benefit of quickly acquainting you with your new home.
  • The seller cleans. Some folks get uneasy when they think about other people calling their home messy. Others like to tidy. And many are just plain thoughtful. Whatever their reasons, the seller may decide to clean the house. However, you won’t know until you ask about their plans. And remember, they don’t actually have to do a thing, unless it’s mentioned in their contract.

Q: Should I go into specificity on my contract with the sellers?

A: Absolutely! Otherwise, the previous owners may just choose a general tidying, as opposed to steam cleaning and deep cleaning.

Q: What are some good requirements to include in the contract?

A: As you make your contract, you have a lot to cover before closing. Consider requesting that it cover:

  • Steam cleaning;
  • Removing all of the sellers’ property;
  • Taking out all trash;
  • Landscaping, like mowing and pruning, depending on the time of year; and
  • Including the attic and/or basement.

Q: Will inspections guarantee a clean home?

A: Hey, what about your home inspection, though? Won’t they make this whole issue a moot point? Well, not necessarily.

Inspections tend to point out big-picture issues, like gutters, the HVAC system, and appliances. They can also cover cosmetic problems, like repainting or scratched floors. Even if you stipulate that items found in the inspection be fixed before closing, that won’t necessarily guarantee a clean house to your exact specifications.

If you notice that a home needs some extra TLC, consider bringing it up with your Realtor and the seller. That way, everyone is on the same page—and you can discuss next steps.

Q: How can my Realtor assist me in the process?

A: Your Realtor will likely already be assisting you with negotiations and other topics, such as inspection fixes. That means he or she can also discuss who will clean the home too. After all, your Realtor is here to help.

Speaking of which, check out Ryan’s list of helpful contacts here. You’ll find folks who can leave your home sparkling clean, movers, inspectors, and so much more.


Finding your home sweet home may sound overwhelming—especially when you factor in questions about house cleaning before a home sale. Don’t stress, though! You have a knowledgeable Realtor on your side: Ryan Roberts.

Contact him here to begin your real estate journey in the East Alabama area. Finally, for more resources and info, check out his blog.