I have a sales listing that, after a few months, has still not gone to contract. We have had offers at the right price that didn’t get financing, and some lowball offers we didn’t take. I am very interested in getting my seller his top price — so frankly, I was looking forward to the renters moving out so I could show it empty.
Wednesday: I call to see if I can show the unit the next day. "No," said the tenant. "We’re going back to Europe. The movers will be here that day and the next. We’ll be out Friday."
Saturday: I showed the unit, and took the opportunity to make it look as respectable as I could, assuming there would be some showings before I had the chance to get a full-fledged cleaning crew in. I emptied the refrigerator (Did the renters really think that soy milk was going to walk itself to the trash?), borrowed a broom from the basement, and started to clean as best I could without a dustpan.
I filled a giant trash bag with stuff that had been left behind — mostly trash, cleaning supplies and toiletries. There was stackable bathroom shelving that the renters had thought was not nice enough to take with them, so I tossed that. As I cleaned — and this was annoying work, because post-move I was basically chasing around broken glass with my bare hands — I picked through the stuff the tenants had left to see if there was anything interesting.
For my efforts I got a two-day-old copy of "Le Figaro" — the big score — with a short story in it by Rick Bass, perfect for practicing my French. I also got a perfectly munchable Gala apple, enough conditioner so that I wouldn’t have to run to the drugstore for a couple of days, a half-jar of blueberry jam that would make a nice batch of muffins, a two-thirds-full box of dryer sheets, and 34 cents.
After an hour, I had filled the building’s trash room and exhausted myself, so I stopped. I didn’t quite finish, but the apartment looked much better. I called the seller to let him know the unit would need a more thorough cleaning. "Do I need to hire a crew or just send my weekly person?" he asked.
"I threw out most of it," I said. "Just send your person."
Monday: I show the unit again, and it sparkles. "Wow," I thought, "this is some incredible cleaning lady." You have to realize that I once worked a deal where it cost $1,000 to clean the apartment, so I was dying to find out who this ordinary maid was who had done such a good job.
So I called the seller. "It looks great! It shines! I totally need the name of your cleaning person," I said.
"I didn’t send anyone yet," he replied.
I suppose in my defense I could point out that the renters never left a note saying, "We’re coming back, don’t throw this stuff out." They also had my phone number, and they never called me. (If they had, I would have slipped them a little cash for reimbursement.)
But I wonder what they thought when they went back to the apartment to clean responsibly and discovered that I had not only swept, but also thrown out their storage unit, emptied the contents of their refrigerator (thank God I left the valuable film — I had been pondering what to do with), and tossed about 75 percent of their toiletries. I stopped because I got tired, but the end result was probably more inexplicable than if I’d done a complete job.
So I’d like to say: I’m sorry. Perhaps somewhere in Paris or Nice someone is writing a column about the crazy Realtor who threw out the food in the refrigerator but left the film, and who left them their shampoo but stole their conditioner.
Alison Rogers is a licensed salesperson and author of "Diary of a Real Estate Rookie."
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