Next, you have to move out. You leave anything affixed to the property and anything you included in the P&S. Generally, if you need tools to remove something, or if removing it would require patching, it’s affixed. You remove everything else with only a handful of common exceptions. Your P&S probably says the premises is to be left in “broom clean condition and free from all debris”. Let’s break that down.
What to Leave
Some buyers appreciate full (or mostly full) gallons of recently applied paint and extra tiles or wood that match a floor. Old paint can be unsightly, though, and hard to get rid of. If it isn’t currently on a wall or is older than 5ish years, it should be trashed. Concord offers a great paint recycling program, and its website has detailed disposal explanations for different kinds of paint.
Latex or Acrylic paint should be dry before being thrown out. You can accomplish this by opening up mostly empty cans, and either spread it out or add a drying agent. Oil-based paint and other chemicals can not be just thrown out. For those, you need to see what your town offers for hazardous waste. If you are hiring a professional waste removal company, like Concord Removal, you can ask for their advice. It’s ideal not to leave this for the last minute.
Speaking of trash, it’s common to leave trash and recycling receptacles. Something issued by your municipality should definitely stay. If not, you can leave trash barrels if they’re clean and tidy, and not too numerous. That way, if the buyers balk at the walkthrough, we can deal with it at the walkthrough.
You will also need to leave everything listed in your P&S, usually all the appliances (fridges, ovens, ranges, washer & dryer, and anything else that is built-in). If you have a question, please ask. We’ll often refer back to the original listing, which we created after talking to you about what — if anything — you wanted excluded from the sale. If you didn’t exclude anything, the rule is that if it takes tools to remove, or if it would leave a space to be patched, or loose wires, it stays.
Similarly, for play structures, trampolines, sculptures, planters, or other questionable outdoor items, if it’s not explicit in the P&S, the same rules apply. We have had it happen, though, that buyers wouldn’t close without swingsets removed, for example. It is best if we can get these issues addressed before we’re sitting at the closing table. If you didn’t exclude anything from the property or yard in the original listing, let’s touch base before you remove anything affixed.
What to Remove
Everything else has to go. Even if it seems like something that “really fits the space” or you think “the buyers will really appreciate” if it’s personal property that can easily be removed, it should be. If you’re not sure, or you would like to leave it as a kind gesture, we’ll confirm that it will be received that way by the buyers ahead of the walkthrough.
If you have a lot of valuable used items or antiques, we probably connected you earlier in the process to connect with an appraiser or services like Dutiful Daughter or Buy-and-Consign that do cleanouts along with sales. Another fun resource is Ramble Market for resale.
Our favorite donation resource for valuable items is the Lincoln METCO team of volunteers who’ll pick up items from you and sell them with all proceeds benefitting the Lincoln METCO Coordinating Committee (MCC) and its support of our Boston-based students.
Unfortunately, many donation programs are closed during the pandemic, including the MCC. However, Household Goods (formerly HGRM) in Acton is now open with certain restrictions! They are wonderful and take most useful household items. For clothes, Goodwill in Concord is open! 8-4! What they take is in the pic below.
Another good option, especially when donation centers are closed or when you want items picked up (and you don’t care about donating them to a tax-exempt organization) is FreeCycle where you can list items you’re giving away. You may need to post them in a couple of neighboring communities’ lists. Of course, Craigslist and Facebook and local listserves are also good options even when the items you are listing are free.
No matter the size of the home or the circumstance, there will always be trash. Sellers can’t leave trash behind, and sometimes it’s hard to know what to do with it. If you’re using a professional moving company or one of the companies above like Dutiful Daughter, you will need to plan ahead for extra dump runs. Many folks end up renting a dumpster, or a Bagster, or calling a junk-hauling company like 1800GotJunk, All-Day Enterprises, or Concord Removal. There are a few others, let us know if you need help with this! We’ve got some great last-minute, all-night, trash-and-clean stories!
There is a short but vital list sellers need to accomplish before moving on.
In order to close, you’ll need to get the fire department to come out and issue a smoke detector certificate. We can arrange for this. Some municipalities allow for online requests, others must be made in person. The fee is different in different cities. Most fire departments will issue a passing certificate both in hard copy and digitally, and some attorneys will require hard copy originals if they were issued.
Your smoke certificate will only be issued if your smoke and CO detectors meet the requirements found here. They can be opaque, so it may be best to hire an electrician (or our ace Chuch Cipoletta who does only this work). If yours are hard-wired and older, they may need a tune-up — the initial inspection by the fire department will make it clear what needs doing in order to pass. The certificate is only good for 90 days, but it can take a few weeks to get it sorted out.
Final Water Bill
About two weeks before closing you’ll need a final water meter reading from the town. You will pay for the water you used up to this point. If you live in Lincoln, you request this from the Water Department via an online form that you can print from here. This form has to be emailed to the water department at least three weeks prior to closing. No matter which town you are in, you will need to bring a paid receipt to the closing (or email to your attorney).
Oil and Propane Tanks
Your P&S may be clear about this, but many are vague. For folks with oil or propane tanks, it is often up to the buyers whether they prefer to have the tank read (and pay for the rough amount) or have the tank filled (and pay for the oil in the full tank). The credit for the amount due will be paid at closing.
Just like your water, you will need to have your gas company read your final reading and pay that bill. However, usually, gas companies make it easy to transfer and you won’t need to document this for the buyers.
Electric, Cable, Internet, etc.
You’ll need to contact your utilities to tell them the effective date for the end of your service. Some Internet providers will not set up service in the buyer’s name until the seller’s service has been disconnected. You may need to mail back or drop off your router if you rent it from your provider. You should call your electric, cable/internet/phone provider within the month before your closing.