Should You Move Out Before You Sell?

Should You Move Out or Vacate Before You Sell?A decade ago, it was the norm for Silicon Valley homeowners to occupy the home they were selling – today a majority of homes are being sold unoccupied or vacant. Why is that? And should you move out before you sell?

A few years ago, around the mid- to late-2010s, we began to see an increasing number of vacant and professionally staged properties for sale. Last year, most sellers simply felt safer moving out before selling due to the pandemic. Today that continues to be the case.

Over time, the reasons for homeowners to move out before marketing a primary residence have increased. While sellers can certainly still occupy a home on the market and sell it successfully, it’s not our recommendation for most people and here’s why.

Seller Stress

First things first, if you are able to move out before you sell it can reduce a lot of stress. And this has almost always been the case.

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How Clean Does the Home Need to be at Close of Escrow and Move Out?

How clean does your home need to be when you move out after it sells? The usual expectation in the San Jose, Los Gatos & Saratoga area is that it will be “broom clean“- that is, there shouldn’t be any debris on the floor – or counters for that matter. The property should be wiped down but is not expected to be perfect in general (bathrooms and kitchens are appreciated greatly if perfect, though). You vacuum the carpets, not wash them.  (Outside: the lawn should still have been mowed weekly and outside plants, bushed and greenery watered up until the time you move.)

Cleaning before selling your home:

The other thing to note is that this light exit cleaning is based on the idea that you did a “deep cleaning” prior to going on the market in the first place. When you list your Silicon Valley home for sale, it should be squeaky clean before the first buyers ever set foot in it. So you go beyond the weekly touch ups and in addition make sure that the details are covered, such as:

  • dust or wipe down the baseboards (where white can become black if not cleaned!)
  • clean and/or dust the heat registers and especially the return (and change any filters)
  • make sure the whole toilet is clean, not just the bowl and seat – look at the base and check for dust and grime in hard to reach areas
  • carpets should be washed
  • dust the places normally skipped, such as the tops of light fixtures

If your home was in squeaky clean condition when you got it on the MLS, and you maintained it for showings, the move out cleaning should not be a huge effort except perhaps in the kitchen.  It is wise to hire a cleaning crew on your way out because you will have packed up all of the cleaning supplies, vacuum etc.  It’s well worth it to not stress over the last items to do so that you can focus on your next home.