Should you wait to get paid from a realtor until after the house sells?

There are always going to be houses that sit on the market for quite some time before they are sold. During this time, many homes fall into disrepair and the first thing that seems to go is the property maintenance. What would you do if you were called by a realtor to mow an overgrown home and were told you wouldn’t get paid until the house sells? Would you agree or no? That is the questions we see asked on the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum and here is what came out of that discussion.

One lawn care business owner wrote “Check out this job request.  I was called by a realtor to make a lawn look presentable that is 2.88 acres and hasn’t been mowed at all this year. As you can imagine, the grass is really tall. The lot is 890′ deep and 175′ wide (cleared not counting the trees).

The housing market is starting to come back and the Realtor wants to make it look presentable by Monday and today is Friday! I told her it would have to be mowed at least 3 times and would take longer than 1 day to accomplish. On top of that, there is rain forecasted for Sunday and Monday.

I quoted the job at $500.00 and told her that if she had it done even weekly this year the total would have been more than $500.00. She said go ahead and I would be paid at closing. I paused for a moment, thought about what she said, and then wished her good luck and left! I wasn’t about to put in a few days work only to have to wait for the house to sell. As I was checking out the property, the neighbor told me the house has been on the market for over a year! Even if the house does eventually sell, there still is no guarantee I would get paid.

Do you think I handled this properly?”

A second lawn care business owner said “that sounds like a mess. I am not sure about working with realtors. I have had a few that wanted us to do jobs and get paid at closing, not a chance I would take one of those on. At the same time we have done a few and been paid upon completion. I helped my crew the other day do a lot that was 1/2 acres of grass that had grown  over the headlights of my lawn tractor. I first cut it at 5″ while another followed me with a ZTR set to three inches. He was pulling a sweeper. I then had two guys trimming. We finished in just over an hour, and changed $350.00.

The realtor had previously called two other companies in, probably the trunk slammers that attempted to mow it but didn’t have the proper lawn care equipment to get through. It looked like one fellow must have started with a trimmer then gave up.

Anyhow stick to your guns. Require payment upon completion or you will never see that money.”

A third business owner added “I would have walked, too. The only way I’d do a job where I’d get paid on closing is if I put a mechanics lien on the property. Even then though I’d have to increase the price to pay for waiting for the money. Kind of like a late fee. I just don’t think it would be worthwhile.

I did a home sale property clean up last last month, and I was paid upon completion. Otherwise what happens if the house doesn’t sell and the owners decide to sell it on their own or go with another realtor, or even just take it off the market? That could turn out to be a couple of days of labor all for nothing.”

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