Who maintains real estate while on the market?

The unfortunate reality of the real estate market these days is that it takes time to sell a house. That's not to say its impossible-it just means that Massachusetts sellers need to be prepared for the house to remain on the market for a little bit of time before it is bought. And, this means keeping the house show ready almost all the time for potential buyers to look at. When the sellers have moved out of the house, whose responsibility does it become to keep the house maintained?

The simple answer is that basic upkeep is the seller's responsibility, as they still own the house. That means the seller is responsible for how it looks, but what about the real estate agent who should also have a vested interest in getting the house to sell on time? It's important never to make an assumption about who has what responsibility-having the conversation up front and including it in the agreement will remove any doubts later on. The real estate agent may also not want to take on the task of ongoing maintenance-if they take on the responsibility and something goes badly, then they become accountable.

It might be beneficial to engage a property manager in these circumstances. Mowing the law and picking up the newspaper before or after work can become a burden for the seller and the real estate agent may not want to pick up all the responsibility and an estate manager can help fill in the gaps. Depending on the management agreement, they can ensure that not only is the house maintained and ready to be shown at all times, but the costs do not exceed the seller's budget.

However, it is important to have a thorough agreement with the property manager to ensure that they know what is expected of them and how much the seller is willing to dedicate to the upkeep of the house they have to sell. An experienced real estate attorney may be able to help sellers create such contracts.

Source: realtor.com, "Who Keeps the House Show-Ready While It's on the Market?," accessed September 25, 2017

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