How much should you charge for apartment turnovers?

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by Tom Watson on June 19, 2016

The title of this post is one of the most popular questions I get asked. Sadly it’s a question I can’t answer.

The reason is because the only way I can bid something is to SEE SOMETHING. Plus I would need to know WHAT YOUR OVERHEAD IS among other variables.

Whenever I get asked this question I respond by saying all you have to do is “take your best guess” as to how long it will take to clean a unit then “multiply that” by your hourly rate. That may sound simple, but that’s all it is for the most part.

Once you get one complex under your belt, you’ll know within a pretty short time-frame whether or not your pricing approach was correct. if you are not making money, up the price for the next complex. If you are doing good, then SUPER! You got it right.

How long does it take to clean apartment turnovers?

I can “guide you” to an accurate guess by saying that a good unit is normally at least 3 or 4 hours worth of work in my opinion, and a bad one can easily double that. I can also add that I look at apartment turnovers in bunches of ten for perspective.

Out of every ten apartment turnovers:

  • 4 will be in above average shape.
  • 4 will be in below average shape.
  • 1 will be pristine.
  • 1 will be a disaster.

As you can see, there is no “average” of how dirty a unit will be. It’s all over the place. Some people live neatly and others… well, not so neatly. That’s just the way it is. I always kept this in mind when I went to bid a property.

How much did I charge to clean apartment turnovers?

Before I get started, keep in mind my company was cleaning apartments from roughly 2002 till 2012. I did tons of them in the 2004 to 2008 time-frame. Basically I started out with one complex, then added on others in the next few years.

Then around 2008 I started to pull out of this segment to do other things (ie: focus more on carpet cleaning). So when I give you ideas of what I was getting paid, you need to keep in mind that this pricing information is not current.

Sampling of pricing I was paid to clean apartment turnovers:

  • One complex paid me $50 per unit (all sizes).
  • One complex paid me $80 per unit (all sizes).
  • One complex paid me $110 for a one bed, $120 for a two bed & $130 for a three bed.
  • One complex paid me $130 for a one bed, $140 for a two and $150 for a three bed.

As you can see, the prices are all over the place. That’s just the way it worked out. The first two complexes (the one that paid me $50 and the one that paid $80) didn’t allow me to submit a price to clean them. THEY TOLD ME how much they would pay.

I only accepted the jobs if I was allowed to bid the common areas separately (hallways, foyers etc…). When submitting bids on them I MADE SURE I MADE MONEY on that side of the equation. If they accepted my prices, then I took the job (I viewed the turnovers as BREAK EVEN propositions).

The two higher priced accounts I bid at that price. I also did the common areas on those complexes too (I never did JUST turnovers, I always did the common areas too). I had other jobs that fell in-between these accounts I shared as well, but you get the idea I hope of how I approached things.

What ARE YOU charging for apartment turnovers?

In the spirit of sharing some knowledge between peers, I would like to ask everyone out there who cleans apartment turnovers to chime in and share what they are currently getting. No need to share your company name if you don’t like.

Just share your general location and what you are charging. This will help the newcomers out there better understand their market. I look forward to hearing from everyone out there and THANKS for reading my post today.

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{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Binda Kebohula June 19, 2016 at 11:25 am

Hi Tom,

In these scenarios, it seems the prices are not based on the hourly rate?

2 Tom Watson June 19, 2016 at 11:32 am

On the two lower priced turnover prices, I knew I would probably lose (especially at the $50 price point) or at best break even, BUT… I made it up ON THE OTHER SIDE of the equation (the common areas). Remember… These bids HAVE TWO PARTS (turnover and common)… even if I lose on one I can make it up on the other (if I can’t, then I don’t take the job).

3 Gus June 19, 2016 at 8:30 pm

I clean in Savannah Georgia and charge
$75 for one bedroom
$100 for two bedrooms
$125 for three bedrooms
I charge extra $25 for deep cleaning of any unit.

4 Tom Watson June 19, 2016 at 8:48 pm

THANKS Gus… I really appreciate you sharing that!

5 Bray June 19, 2016 at 10:11 pm

How would you recommending marketing to these complexes? I have been to numerous complexes in the north Houston Tx area and none seem to desire a bid or they say “they have their own people”
Any recommendations?

6 Tom Watson June 19, 2016 at 10:43 pm
7 Betsy June 20, 2016 at 7:54 am

We clean condo units, we receive $150-250 depending on size. One – two bedroom $150, beyond that $250 and up. We live in Sarasota, FL.
Theses are individual units, not the whole building.

8 Tom Watson June 20, 2016 at 8:17 am


9 H.P. June 20, 2016 at 4:22 pm

Really Great info, have not totally decided if this area/direction is one I want to pursue or not yet? Thanks

10 Renee Clark June 21, 2016 at 8:45 am

I really enjoyed this post. I am a beginner and I do have the commercial study guide which helps me a great deal. I found that your time on the turnovers is right on. I charge $25 an hour. I also have an account that pays $75 for a studio, $100 for a 1 bed, $125 for a 2 bed and $150 for a 3 bed. I find that a lot of the property managers do not want to pay much for cleaning which is sad because I believe the better something looks the better the attraction and want to rent or sell.

11 Tom Watson June 21, 2016 at 9:59 am

Hi Renee! I’m happy Commercial Cleaning For Beginners has been a great help to you. I LOVE hearing that! Anyway… Yes, property managers should KNOW that the better it looks, the faster it will get rented. Sadly not all of them feel that way.

12 Andrea July 14, 2016 at 7:47 pm

Do apartment turnovers include carpet cleaning and painting?

13 Tom Watson July 14, 2016 at 8:06 pm

Hi Andrea! No. Carpet cleaning is separate (generally a carpet cleaning company, BUT if you did offer that service there is a chance you could provide that too). Painting is either done by maintenance staff or outside vendor.

14 HW July 29, 2016 at 11:57 pm

My company does the turnovers for a large housing authority outside of Boston. We charge $160 for a deep clean which on average takes 2 1/2 hours. We charge between $90 and $130 for strip & wax and $30 per room to steam clean. The units that require a stream cleaning, require a stip/wax of kitch & bathroom only for $65. We love the carpeted units.

Realtors and investors who higher us to turnover their apartment we charge $60/hour (2-3 hours) and $40 per room to steam clean w/ a 2 room minimum.

15 Tom Watson July 30, 2016 at 11:19 am

Hi HW! THANKS so much for sharing that info. Much appreciated!

16 HW September 9, 2016 at 11:14 pm

I’m a new biz owner via acquisition of a 24 yr old company. Since my last post, I’ve completed a margin analysis and market analysis. The result was, we raised our cleaning rate to $50 per hour per cleaner and give an approximate time frame. For a deep clean we are now at $60/hour/cleaner and having good success.

Our market analysis wasn’t fancy which we used for carpet cleaning. We called our clients for their opinion on our quality, our price they paid for steam clean and their opinion on a premium cleaning offering at $55. When we described it including vacuuming, stain extraction and 3M Scotch Guard coating, most by a big margin said they would buy the premium package next time. So, we created 2 packages, the “basic” steam clean for $50 and the premium for $55. In the 5 weeks since adjusting the prices we’ve done about 75 residential rooms at $55 and none at $50. We also instituted a minimum 1 room charge of $75 or $80. Of the half dozen 1 room jobs 4 have paid $80 and 2 had presumably gone to a competitor, but 1 actually called us back.

17 Tom Watson September 10, 2016 at 10:34 am

AWESOME inside info. THANKS HW, that will help a lot of people in their areas.

18 Bray September 10, 2016 at 7:46 pm

So you are charging 75-80 if they only decide to do one room?

19 Apple June 28, 2017 at 12:14 am

This person I know told me that her husband just got a management property position and that they’re looking for a cleaning company to clean a hundred units and wanted to know my prices I do not know how to price this send that I was only cleaning a few apartments a week how do I price cleaning apartments to get ready for move-in

20 Tom Watson July 2, 2017 at 10:50 am

I shared in this post how I handled that topic. I’m not sure I can add more than that! How to bid can be a very nuanced topic. I go over that in tremendous detail in my Start-Up Guides. I would take a peek at those as that is your best bet for learning how to bid a job like that.

21 Ash September 1, 2017 at 11:07 pm

As an apartment manager in southern ca (used to manage 30 units and now manage100) I have about 2-3 go to companies. I start with my #1 and then if they can’t do the day then I got to my #2 and so on. These are the ranges:
Studios: 100-120
1bds: 120-140
2bd2ba: 160-180
All companies will charge extra for “heavy soil” but each company has a different tolerance to what’s considered “heavy” so in some cases that will dictate which company I call first too.

22 Tom Watson September 1, 2017 at 11:15 pm

THANK YOU so much for sharing that. That’s very useful to my readers!

23 Jerrell Slay September 24, 2017 at 4:03 am

Hi tom, whats your advice say if you had the lower paying apartments, but you weren’t able to clean the common areas. Would you still take the contract when you were just starting out?

24 Monica October 4, 2017 at 3:56 pm

Myself and my husband have started a new business in Jax,Fl. and let me tell you what….we are LOST!!! Lol!! It’s so much to learn and so much competition. We had a chance to get a low-income property but our bid was to high. We weren’t disappointed but realized after 1 bid to bring our price down. When we price for residential we do hourly rates but with complexes we do sq.footage. We are going to give it another try and if we get turned down again we will look to a different approach.

25 Tom Watson October 12, 2017 at 12:45 pm

You will LEARN A LOT in the beginning. Don’t be frustrated. But also… make sure you don’t adjust too much too fast. Sometimes the price may not be the reason a company doesn’t get hired. Work on BIDDING A LOT (promote, promote, promote). Then analyze the trends that become clearer over time. THAN ADJUST.

26 Tom Watson October 12, 2017 at 12:49 pm

Maybe in the VERY beginning. If you don’t have money, you have no options. So getting some money in is better than none, as long as the job is worth doing. Just make sure to REINVEST that income into getting BETTER jobs.

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