Buying a home is a lengthy, stressful, and complicated process with countless steps along the way. After applying for a mortgage, submitting an offer, and signing a contract, one of the last steps in the process is the final walkthrough. This allows you to see the home before you get the keys to make sure it’s ready for you to move in.
What is a final walkthrough?
A final walkthrough is one of the last steps of the closing process wherein the buyer inspects the property to ensure that everything is as promised. For instance, if certain repairs were promised in the sale contract then the buyer can verify that they were performed. Additionally, the buyer is able to ensure that the condition of the property hasn’t changed since the last visit. Finally, the buyer can verify that the seller did not take anything from the home that they weren’t supposed to.
The buyer and the buyer’s agent usually attend the final walkthrough without the seller or seller’s agent to provide enough time and freedom for them to perform a thorough inspection. The buyer’s agent may assist in the process and point out things from room to room based on their experience. If the home is newly constructed or renovated, then the contractor or builder may also attend.
When does a final walkthrough happen?
A final walkthrough should happen as close to closing as possible. This ensures that there’s essentially no room for the seller to make any unauthorized changes before closing. Ideally, the final walkthrough should occur after the seller has already moved out of the house.
How to prepare for a final walkthrough as the seller?
If you’re the seller, it’s important to take steps to prepare for the final walkthrough. After all, you want to ensure that you’re holding up your end of the bargain to encourage a smooth closing process. Here are some things that you can do to prepare for a final walkthrough as the seller:
- Clean and tidy: The first thing you need to do to prepare for the final walkthrough is to get the home in tip-top shape. Make sure that you’re not leaving anything behind. Also, you should make sure that the home is “broom clean” and is free of clutter and debris.
- Know your contract: The second thing you need to do to prepare for the final walkthrough is to familiarize yourself with the contract you signed regarding what items stay with the house. You should only be taking your personal property with you when you leave. Things like appliances and fixtures are considered to be part of the home sale and need to be left with the buyer unless previously negotiated.
- Complete agreed-upon repairs: The third thing you need to do to prepare for the final walkthrough is to complete any agreed-upon repairs. Having these items done on time ensures a smooth closing process. If there are any delays for whatever reason, be sure to communicate them with the parties involved.
- Keep your receipts: The fourth and final thing you need to do to prepare for the final walkthrough is to keep your receipts regarding any completed repairs or agreed-upon maintenance. Not only does this prove that they were actually completed, but they may also come in handy for warranty purposes if any problems arise in the future.
What to look for in a final walkthrough as the buyer?
As the buyer, it’s incredibly important to be as thorough as possible when conducting the final walkthrough. Even though your realtor may be able to help you in some respect, it’s still a good idea to know what to look for since you’re the one actually buying the house.
1. Inspection repairs
Unless you’re buying a brand new home, you likely requested that the seller make certain repairs before closing. To check these items, you should bring the inspection summary and accepted offer letter and verify each and every item on the list.
You should also be checking to make sure that no additional repairs need to be made. Finally, you should ask the seller for warranties or receipts for any repairs they made on the home to verify it and utilize the warranty if necessary.
2. Possessions in the house
The seller should have removed all of their personal possessions from the home prior to the final walkthrough. This makes the process a lot easier as you’re now able to easily see each and every corner of the house.
Make sure that the seller took all of their personal items and didn’t leave anything behind. You should also make sure that they didn’t take anything they weren’t supposed to be referencing your acceptance letter for things like appliances and fixtures.
3. Locks and windows
For a thorough inspection, you should open and close all of the doors and windows on the home to ensure that they’re working properly. Make sure that they all lock and unlock correctly. Make sure that all of the windows and doors open without sticking.
Check the window screens for any missing screens, holes, tears, or other defects. Finally, make sure that the window screens fit properly and can be easily popped out if needed.
You will need to perform tests on all the appliances in the home when performing the final walkthrough to ensure that they’re working properly. Here are some of the tests that you should perform on your appliances:
- Run the dishwasher to make sure it works and cleans properly
- Turn the washing machine and dryer on and off
- Turn on all the faucets in the house to ensure that they work, that the drains aren’t clogged, and that the water doesn’t have a strange smell
- Turn on the showers and bathtubs to check for hot water, water pressure, and drainage
- Turn on the stove and oven to test for any concerning gas smells
- Run the garbage disposal to make sure it works
- Open and close the garage door
- Run the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems to make sure that they appropriately and timely heat and cool the home
- Flush all the toilets to ensure that they aren’t clogged
5. Mold and pests
Check the home for mold in potential problem areas like the toilet base, tub drains, and sink cabinets. Also, be on the lookout for signs of any pests like mouse droppings, bite marks on wood, or dry rot that may be an indication of rodents, ants, or termites.
6. Electricity and outlets
Test every outlet in the home by bringing something like a phone charger with you to the inspection. Also, test every light switch in the house to make sure that it turns on and off the appropriate light fixtures.
7. The yard and exterior
Finally, walk around the exterior of the home to inspect the landscaping, fencing, and gate. Thoroughly inspect other features like pools, hot tubs, and irrigation systems.
What happens if there are issues during the final walkthrough?
In the event that you discover issues during the final walkthrough, there are several different things you can do: you can delay the closing, ask the seller to make concessions, or withhold proceeds in escrow.
Delay the closing
If the issues are pretty major and there’s no time to fix them before closing, then you may want to consider delaying the closing. You should not proceed with closing as planned if everything is not what you agreed to. The length of the delay will depend on the severity of the issues discovered during the final walkthrough.
Another solution to an issue with the final walkthrough involves the seller providing a concession to the buyer. Essentially, the seller is paying the buyer to cover the cost of any issues. This is an easy solution with minor issues provided both parties can come to an agreement over the concession amount.
Hold proceeds in escrow
If there are bigger issues in play that require something more formal than a seller concession, it’s possible for the seller to leave some money in an escrow account to cover these costs. You should ask for 1.5 times the amount of repair or replacement to be held in escrow until the issue is resolved. Alternatively, the seller can leave the money in escrow for the buyer to use to address the problem themself.
Finally, if major issues are found during the walkthrough, you also have the option of walking away. You should be able to get your money back since the seller did not hold up their end of the bargain. This is never an easy decision but it may be necessary in certain circumstances.
The wrap up on final walkthroughs
Knowing what to look for in the final walkthrough is essential to a smooth closing and move-in process. Use a checklist and an experienced professional like your real estate agent for the best results. For more information about buying a home, always feel free to reach out to the experts at Vaster Capital.
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