The Importance of a Final Walk-Through
There is often a misconception of what a final walk through is and why it’s important. A final walk through can sometimes be referred to as a pre-closing “inspection.” Although you are probably excited and anxious to close on your new home, the final walk through is important and many things should checked and inspected and not overlooked.
The final walk through is NOT a home inspection. In most cases, a buyer has had the opportunity to perform a thorough home inspection prior to finalizing the contract for purchase. It is a common contract contingency that you should be aware of when purchasing a home. The final walk through is the time to ensure that the personal property items that were agreed to be included in the sale, are still present, that the condition of the home is substantively the same or better than the day you went under contract, check the functionality of the home’s features, and that any agreed to repairs have been made to your satisfaction.
Oftentimes, buyers negotiate sale terms to keep new appliances, light fixtures, window treatments and other installations as part of their purchases agreements. Bring your contract to purchase with you and begin your walk-through by confirming all agreed upon features are still present and in the same condition as the time of inspection.
When homes are transferred from a seller to a buyer, they are supposed to be in “broom-clean condition.” The term “broom-clean” is a very vague, as it can mean one thing to the buyer and a different to the seller. If there is garbage, boxes in the attic, old paint in the garage, or personal belongings from the seller in the storage areas or in the home, they should be removed by the seller at their expense prior to closing. It is not the responsibility of the buyers to remove or dispose of the seller’s possessions that were not specifically identified as personality that was to stay with the property.
When a seller’s furniture is moved out, it’s much easier for buyers to recognize damages they may have overlooked during their initial inspections. Review surfaces, ceilings, walls and floors for any new damages such as scratched or soiled flooring and carpet, look for water damage, and cracked windows and walls.
Possibly the most important part of the final walk through is to complete a checklist of the home. Your real estateagent should supply you with a thorough checklist and assist you with the walk-through. The checklist should include, but not be limited to the following:
• Check gas features, including fireplace inserts, stove and oven
• Does the fireplace turn on with the switch
• Do the burners warm when lit
• Does the oven heat properly
• Flip switches on the garbage disposal
• Check all ceiling fans
• Ensure the exhaust fans work properly
• Check the AC and heat thermostats
• Open the refrigerator; is it cool and cleaned out. Is the icemaker making ice?
• Turn knobs on each faucet to test the handles work
• Is the water warm indicating the water heater is functioning correctly
• Is there proper drainage down each drain
• Look below each sink for moisture or leaks
• Flush each toilet and ensure they fill back up with water instead of running or leaking
• Peer around bathrooms, kitchens, and laundry rooms for water damage
• Check along flooring or base molding and spot any indicators of mildew or mold
• Walk around the entire home testing each light switch
• Are all switch covers present
• Open and close every window
• Make sure the windows and doors lock shut properly
• If screens and storm windows are expected, account for each before moving to the next window. If there are hurricane shutters that remain with the house make sure they are all in place.
• Test to make sure the pool pump is running
• Is the landscaping in good shape, has the grass been watered?
• Check the garage door openers and try each control
• Ring the doorbell
• If an alarm system is included in the purchase agreement, test entry and disengagement
• If the property has a sprinkler system, start it to make sure it’s functioning
• Look at the exterior siding, roofing, chimney, or any other exterior features that the home may have. If there has been severe weather recently this is extra important, as it’s not uncommon for roof shingles or siding to be damaged.
• If there were items that were agreed upon between the buyer and seller to be repaired or fixed, make sure they have been completed. A good buyers real estate agent should ask for receipts or records from any repairs that were agreed upon.
• Look for owner’s manuals to accompany all appliances and remote controls for ceiling fans, lighting, sound systems or any other features.
Buyers agents can require sellers to meet the terms of the purchase agreement prior to closing or renegotiate new terms to cover costs of repairing any missing features or damages found during the final walk-through. This is often accomplished in conjunction with the buyer’s attorney. If there are problems that arise from the final walk through, it’s important to address them quickly. The final walk-through is the last chance for buyers to critically review properties before signing closing paperwork. Buyers who use the opportunity wisely tend to have the highest probability of buyer satisfaction