How To Use This Part Of Our Website

by Keith OToole on October 3, 2012

If you have a question about Real Estate, whether you are a buyer or seller, I likely have the answer right here.

There are three ways to get your questions answered.

One, type your question in the search box to the right and click “search”. Every question….and the answer….will be shown almost immediately.

Two, look at the categories to the right. Just find the category your question falls under and click it. Every question and answer on this site will be shown for you.

Three, if I don’t have the answer on this site, pick up the phone and call me at 585.352.7300. I’ll spend a few minutes with you, and if you need legal help with your real estate matter we’ll discuss that as well.

How Clean Is “Broom Clean”?

by Keith OToole on January 18, 2013

New York Law:

Under New York law, there is no specific definition for the phrase “Broom Clean”. However, it has acquired a customary meaning over the years, and it should be remembered that a contract can change that meaning.  Here, in the Rochester New York area, the standard purchase and sale contract contains the following language:

“Buyer shall have possession of the property upon closing, in broom clean condition…”

This is similar to contracts used across New York State. Other areas of the state like to use the phrase “vacant and broom clean” but it amounts to essentially the same thing.

What Broom Clean includes:

When you are buying or selling a house, “broom clean” generally means the following:

  •  vacant
  •  empty of all personal property
  •  empty of all garbage or debris
  •  empty attic
  •  empty basement
  •  empty garage
  •  empty refrigerator
  •  free of serious filth
  •  swept clean

What Broom Clean excludes:

Here’s what “broom clean” does not mean:

  •  deep cleaning or “spring cleaning” clean
  •  painting
  •  patching holes in walls
  •  scrubbing walls or floors
  •  washing windows

The Gray Area….Should it stay or Should it go?

There are some things both buyer and seller may wish to leave behind but, it is best to check with your realtor first:

  • House Parts – Most people want the spare house parts, like that closet door, or the window screens in the basement.
  • Flooring Materials- Carpet remnants and spare floor tiles can be a great money saver when floors must be repaired.
  • Paint Cans – Some people want these and some really don’t. Many home buyers want the leftover paint so they can touch up walls. Other home buyers are concerned about the hassle of disposing of hazardous waste.

Why Broom Clean may not be enough:

While the legal meaning of “broom clean” is important, there are practical things to consider. Just prior to closing, Rochester real estate contracts give home buyers the right to inspect the property in what is commonly referred to as the final “walkthrough”.

If the buyers find that the property is filthy, they may simply refuse to close. Or, the buyers may demand financial compensation.

These sorts of last minute disputes are frustrating and they can be expensive. Legal arguments aside, these are disputes best avoided.

The practical answer is this:

Home Sellers: Put yourselves in the buyers shoes. If you were moving into this house, would you be satisfied? As exhausting as moving can be, plan on a light cleaning once the house is empty. Be sure to:

  •  Remove the dust bunnies
  •  Vacuum the rugs
  •  wipe down the counters
  •  scrub the toilets
  •  consider hiring a house cleaner to start work after the moving van departs

Home Buyers: Understand that “Broom Clean” does not mean “professionally clean”. Plan on a deep cleaning before you move in. When your new home is empty is the easiest time to clean. Consider:

  • Hiring a house cleaner to clean before moving day.
  • Hiring a professional carpet cleaner.
  • Recruiting friends and family for a few hours of cleaning the day before the moving van arrives. Order a pizza and make it a social event.

If you are a home buyer or home seller and have a legal question, don’t hesitate to call me at 585.352.7300.


How Do I Get My Mail Forwarded To My New Address?

October 29, 2012

If you haven’t done so already, you need to file a for a Change of Address with the US Postal Service. This can be done by filling out the form in any post office. You can also do it online at or just go to Keep in mind that the change may take 7 […]

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I Just Purchased A New Home. What Should I Do After Closing?

October 3, 2012

A Checklist For What To Do After Your Home Purchase Here a few things you should consider: Drivers License:  Within 10 days of moving, you should change your drivers license address.   You can do this at any New York State DMV office or you can go to its website: If you don’t, the next time […]

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I Am A Home Buyer. What Should I Do Before Closing?

October 3, 2012

A Checklist For What To Do Before Your Home Purchase If you are a home buyer, here a few things you should consider: Find a realtor. Find an attorney. Get “pre-approved”.  Working with your realtor, find out how much house you can afford. Find your new home. Review the contract with your attorney.  If a […]

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