HomehousingDidn't know our house came with beef stew

Didn’t know our house came with beef stew

So I was too lazy to count the actual votes for the Goosebumps inspired “pick your own path” game we played yesterday. Of the five or so options I pitched for today’s blog post, two were clearly the favorite: 1) A recap of our time in Europe. 2) A post about the garbage that was left behind for us when we bought our house. 

Seeing that I don’t have my camera cord immediately available, I’ve decided to write about the garbage situation. Fear not, however, as a Europe post will be coming in the next few days.

If you recall, we got the keys to our house about six hours before we were leaving the country. At first glance, things seemed alright. But after our realtor left, we finally felt the excitement of ownership. We could finally be in our house, without someone else having to be present. We could do whatever we wanted!

We started opening every drawer, closet, and storage space we could find. We were discouraged to find a decent amount of garbage and junk left behind. Our basement freezer had some nasty looking beef stew and short ribs stored in Tupperware. There was some kind of soup, about 20 bottles of cheap alcohol, and a ton of other food items left behind.

But what really irked me was our utility room. 

They left behind about 40 cans of paint. I get that a seller might leave some paint behind so the new owner know what paint to get for touch ups. That’s not what this was. The house was built in 1930 and my hunch is that every can of paint that has ever gone on a wall in the house has been passed on from one owner to the next. We spent a solid hour clearing the paint cans, paint thinner, stain, grout, etc out of the utility room and setting them in our driveway. My excitement was now frustration.


What’s more, when we did our final walk-through a few days before we took possession, I noticed there were three lawnmowers and a wood chipper near our backyard storage shed. One of the mowers appeared to be working, the other two had clearly been retired long ago. I was hoping the sellers would leave the working lawnmower  with the house so I didn’t have to go out and buy one.

They didn’t. 

But what they did do was leave us the two non-functioning mowers and the huge inoperable wood chipper. I was sensing a patterns. The sellers took everything they wanted, and left behind everything they didn’t. This was especially true for things they couldn’t just throw away in the regular garbage can (paint and lawnmowers). What should have been there problem, was quickly becoming mine.

While we were in Europe, we decided to have the house professionally cleaned. Fourteen hours of cleaning, and $450 later, our house finally felt ready to be lived in. We sent an invoice to the sellers for reimbursement and made them pick up the garbage we piled up in our driveway.

Taking possession of the house was easy, getting the sellers to uphold their contractual obligations, not so much.

At least it’s over and now we get to do fun things like paint!!!


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  1. Wow! I guess it could have been worse considering people in general tend to hoard things. Garbage would have been one of the last things I would have thought to be a problem buying a resale home. $450 for a professional cleaning is so NECESSARY! I would probably take the home down to the studs and foundation just to put in new drywall and flooring 😛

    Regardless, I’m very excited to see you guys in your new house and I can tell GN has the biggest smile in that picture which shows how much you two will enjoy your new home, mega congrats dude! 🙂

  2. I am not surprised. Some people are just inconsiderate. I am glad everything seems to be fine now. I have started renovating my bathroom. If interested you can read it at [email protected]

    I am just curious: I know you had put your belongings in storage. Did you guys bring them in the new house before paint job is over? Are you staying at your new home already?

  3. We had the same situation, but way more trash & a super-jerk seller! So many terrible surprises it is only now (11 years later!) that my husband will even entertain the idea of moving again someday!

    Can’t wait for the other topics!

  4. I’m frustrated and I didn’t even buy the house! That aggravates me to no end. People need to take responsibility and clean up their own mess. I am glad that you billed them for it.

    Just curious if you did a walkthrough prior to signing the closing contracts. Usually this stuff is spotted and discussed during the walkthrough. It gives you (the buyer) the opportunity to say, “Hey, get your junk out of here before we move in.”

    May you have many, many, many good years in the house, and may you write many, many, many good posts in that house.

  5. It is customary in my town to put the stuff that you don’t want out at the curb and someone will want it and take it away. That would work with the chipper and the broken lawn mower on a sunny Saturday morning. If someone can’t fix it or use the parts they will sell it for scrap.

  6. haha- old food in the freezer? that’s nasty. i’m glad the sellers paid for the cleaning and came to throw out the junk- although it stinks that you even had to ask. you would think people would be responsible enough to do that without being asked…

  7. My random thoughts/questions here are:

    – $450 for 14 hours of work is a real bargain.

    – Was there anything in the contract to say they had to remove all their belongings and clean the place?

    – Cans of touch-up paint at best may not help you. In my experience, touching up – with even the same batch of paint originally used – never dries to the same color. And paint eventually goes bad. (One of the worst experiences of my life was having my home painted about five years ago. The guy I hired was half artist, half crook, and I’m sure I got bilked out of many hundreds more than I should have spent.)

    – Was the beef stew good?

    • We used my in-laws house cleaner who has cleaned their house for 10+ years now.

      Yes, contract specifically said not trash, junk, or debris can be left behind at time of possession. Old paint and non-functioning machines definitely qualify as junk

      Beef stew was great, once it was thrown away 😉

  8. When I bought our current house, the owner had already moved away, so they had no choice but to get rid of everything so that the house could be shown and have prospective buyers actually be interested in it.

  9. Every house-selling/buying has its own adventure. Typically there is some sort of final walk-thru agreement in most real estate contracts but perhaps that differs by state? Also, it is likely if they hired movers, those movers are instructed to move only tangible items. Thus they may try to pass on the bill to the movers.

    I think it is sweet that you are piling it all together though. I had the opposite problem. We sold our home and because the buyer was a young girl buying her first home, we put forth extra effort to really leave the place spotless and welcoming for her – with flowers and a note introducing her to the neighbors and beautiful town cats. Unfortuntely in all of the madness of buying/selling with a new job and toddler just learning to walk going on, we did leave some stuff behind in the attic which was tiny and rarely used. Its our fault for not standing in the garage and looking straight up and going “oh..yeah.” Two weeks later I realized I couldn’t find my great-grandmothers sewing machine or some of her items and suddenly remembered the attice. We contacted the buyer, but only to get a rude response yelling that she had to drag out all of the “trash” to the curb for garbage truck followed by some cursing in another language.

    I cried for hours afterwards. I guess the saying that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure really is true.

  10. I never understood why people treat each other so poorly! Thinking it was okay to leave their trash or useless stuff is so wrong. You may want to have your broker call their broker to take care of this.

  11. Our house was reasonably clean and had everything included that was supposed to (we included their lawn mower, grill and patio set in our offer). The grill was actually not very good and we never used it. The lawnmower worked and bought us some time before my husband got a better one. The patio set is still fine.

    But the inside of the fridge? My goodness! Clean that sucker out! EWWW.

  12. Wow, that sounds like it was a huge amount of work. Good for you for holding the previous owners to their contractual obligations – that is not a bill you need to be paying. Congratulations on your new house, have fun redecorating!

  13. I can totally relate to this. I bought my first house from an old guy who was also a friend of the family. When he left on moving day he kindly took me around the house pointing out of the dated furniture he’d left for me along with a shed full of old DIY gear. I ended up having to pay for a skip to get rid of it all! I did get the house cheap though so I couldn’t be too angry about it. 🙂

  14. We left our house absolutely spotless…literally I was swiffering my footstephs on the way out the door!

    Only to get to our new house and have it be a total disaster. We also had to get the house professionally cleaned, including professional carpet cleaners to clean up awful stains that I don’t even want to know what they were from.

    The worst of all was coming into the master bathroom and finding that she had left a bathtub FULL of dirty bath water on her way out. This girl was messed!!

  15. I feel your pain. We got burnt a little on our first house purchase. There was so many things that were overlook at the final walk-through. We found a leaky pipe, a broken door on the dish washers and few other smaller things after we took possession.. It will never happen again! Just don’t have any plans on buying a second house any time soon.

  16. I can’t believe they left all that junk behind. Maybe they thought you would like their stew?

    Congrats on the new house!

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