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You have almost gone through the whole process of home buying. From those early days of using a mortgage calculator to see how much house you can afford, to viewing homes online or in-person, and then eventually and enthusiastically making an offer on your first home.
Now here you are, the home inspection is complete, the bank appraiser has sent their report, and the bank has provided the green light to send the title company settlement funds. All the stars have aligned, and it looks like this deal is on track to close without a hitch.
One more thing needs to be done though before the big day: the final walk-through. And luckily for you, to help ensure a smooth closing, we’ve built the ultimate final walk-through checklist.
What Happens During The Final Walk-Through?
Before you take possession of the house, the final walk-through is the last opportunity to ensure that:
All repairs requested are complete,
Since the inspection, no new repair or maintenance concerns have arisen.
All the fixtures and furniture decided upon, as detailed in the contract, are still in place at home.
All systems and equipment stated by the seller to operate properly at the time of the offer are still working correctly.
Although this can sound like a lot of things to check, you’ll be glad you’ve taken the time to do it right down the road. Unfortunately, during the move-out period, accidents can and do happen when the house sits empty or when the homeowner or tradesman has failed to correctly complete a repair.
When Does the Final Walk-through Take Place?
Ideally, the final walk-through should be as close as possible to the closing. The sellers’ possessions should be completely moved out, which gives you a better look at the home while it is empty, especially for any problems that might have been covered by furniture or appliances. You’ll want to target for no more than tow to three days before closing if you can’t do your walk-through on the day itself.
The last thing you want to do is take ownership of your new home and find out that since you were last in the house as a prospective buyer, which might have been weeks ago, there is a problem that has arisen.
During the Final Walk-through, Who Should be Present?
The buyer and their real estate agent are the only individuals expected to attend a final walk-through. If the buyer makes a special request for them to participate, the seller might be there too, with their agent. Some buyers also request that their home inspector join in as well.
How Long does a Final Walk-through Take?
The time it takes for the walk-through to be completed depends on the size of the house and how detailed your inspection is. It often takes just 20 minutes for a 1,200 square-foot house to check all the rooms, closets, and cabinets. This process could take an hour or two in a larger place.
Give yourself enough time to inspect all house structures, storage areas, interior spaces, and exterior features such as sprinkler systems, power awnings, etc. No need to hurry. Before you move in, you want to make sure that there are no surprises, such as a toilet that does not flush or a missing appliance.
What is a buyer expected to bring to the final walk-through?
You can, as a buyer, bring:
✓Your initial final bid, demonstrating what both parties agreed to in the terms of sale
✓The inspection report-the summary of required repairs
✓Any written arrangements on the repairs between buyer and seller
✓A notebook for notes
✓A camera to record any fresh damage or concerns
✓To check the outlets, a small plug-in object such as a clock, phone charger, or nightlight
You want to ensure that both parties have fulfilled the terms of their agreements during the final walk-through, and now that the home is nearly yours, you’re not walking into a repair nightmare.
What Should a Buyer Look For?
For your walk-through, the key thing to bear in mind is that it’s not another home inspection. Now is not the time to bring up brand-new things that were not found the first or second time around by you or your inspector. This is a cursory check to ensure that the house represents the situation that you recall when the offer was made.
General walk-through checklist for a home
✓Are the agreed-upon repairs to your satisfaction and complete?
✓ Is there something missing, such as appliances, window treatments, or even the built-in bookcase, from the home that should have been left?
✓ Has the seller left things like waste, old paint, or something else behind?
Exterior of home: final walk-through checklist
✓ Do the gutters and the roof from the ground level appear sound and intact?
✓ Did the seller leave behind things like like yard chemicals, old paint, or cement mix, general trash or other items?
✓ Are there any signs of pests like rat droppings?
✓ Does the doorbell work and is it in good condition for the mailbox?
Interior of Home
Make sure all is set with water, power, and gas. Run large appliances such as the washing machine, dryer, dishwasher, stovetop, and microwave, and verify that the fridge and freezer are working.
✓Whatever the outside temperature, operate the heating and cooling (HVAC) system.
✓Check any fans above the stove or in the bathrooms and run them.
✓ Check all the faucets in the house. Ensure the sinks drain correctly, and do not leak.
✓ To ensure that they work and fill correctly, flush all the toilets and check for leaks.
✓ Run water into all the bathtubs and showers.
✓ Test the ceiling fans and light switches.
✓ Check any outlets that have been fixed to ensure that they operate.
✓ Look for any new mold, especially in the corners of rooms and places where furniture has previously been covered.
✓ Open and shut all the windows and doors. Make sure they’re secured properly. Are there any window screens or sticky doors that are missing?
✓ Look at all the ceilings, the walls, the molding, the floors, and the baseboards. Has the seller completed all the caulking and paint repairs agreed upon? Any signs of new harm after the vendor has pulled out?
✓ Are the fixtures all intact? Things such as doorknobs, blinds, lighting, ceiling fans, and built-ins are fixtures. Unless their removal has been stated in your final contract, these things can not be removed.
If everything on this list checks out, congratulations, your home is ready to close and for you to move in.
In the final walk-through, what role does the seller play?
The seller should leave the house in ‘broom swept’ condition, meaning they vacuumed, cleaned the counter tops in the kitchen and bathrooms, and swept the floor.
In the purchase agreement, they must also leave behind everything that they agreed to. After agreeing that they will leave the window treatments, for example, they can’t decide to take them after all without you agreeing to that.
The seller should make fixes if damage occurs during the removal of photographs, televisions, or something else that’s hanging or mounted. Sellers should also check the agreed-upon deal to ensure that everything on their list was resolved and that all the things they agreed to leave were left behind.
Mistakes and insufficient repairs, especially in the flurry of activity, do occur. This is why it is so important for a final walk-through to be scheduled as close to the closing day as possible.
If a problem occurs, what happens?
The secret to addressing most walk-through issues is open discussion. Talk to your real estate agent first, who will then speak with the seller’s agent and explain the issue.
Many seasoned real estate agents will tell you that concerns that arise during the final walk-through are unusual, but still happen. There are three common courses of action if you find an issue that you can not fix on the spot:
Until the repairs can be done or new repairs are finished, you can postpone closure.
It can make sense to negotiate suitable compensation in certain situations and take care of the repairs yourself.
Back out of the contract, which no one really wants, is the least enticing option.
The final walk-through can cause some anxiety on your part (and also on the seller’s part), but it goes very smoothly most of the time. Almost at the end of your home buying journey, you have won the right to your excitement. Now you can see the house as a blank canvas and begin living there and make this house your next home.