Before you close on your new home, do a final walk-through. Why? Taking the time to carefully inspect your home before you take ownership may save you from a future nightmare. Let's take a closer look at this essential step in the home buying process to see why it is so important and what you should be on the lookout for.
What It Is and Why It's Important
Basically, a final-walk-through is just as it sounds. Shortly before your closing date, typically 5-7 days, you physically walk through and inspect the home you are buying. The main purpose of your inspection is to verify that the home is being conveyed to you in the condition you expect and that both you and the seller agreed to in the purchase contract. This usually means that:
- The condition of the property has not substantially changed since you agreed to buy it
- All required repairs have been satisfactorily completed or are in the process of being done
- The items that the seller agreed to leave have not been removed
- All items that the seller agreed to remove are gone
The final walk-through is extremely important because it is your last chance before the home becomes yours to verify that the sellers have upheld their end of the contract. If not, this is the opportune time to get any unresolved items addressed. Once you close, you lose leverage. It may be much more difficult to get the seller to comply with what was agreed.
Start with the outside of the property and work your way through the home from top to bottom. In addition to looking at condition, repairs, and items remaining or removed, pay particular attention to key areas such as:
- Major systems and appliances -- Confirm that these components are in good working order
- Attic and basements/crawl spaces -- Look for discarded items and potential problem areas
- Walls and floors -- Check for any damage that may have occurred when the sellers moved or that may not have been obvious when you originally looked at the home
- Exterior -- Check the condition of windows, doors, sprinklers, gutters, and landscaping
Take your time completing the walk-through. You do not want to be in a rush and miss something significant. Also, it is helpful to reference your purchase contract as you inspect the property. That way you are not relying on memory for all of the specified conditions. And keep in mind that you do not have to do a walk-through alone. If you are working with a real estate agent, consider having that person accompany you. You can also determine if it is to your advantage to have a professional inspector walk through the home with you.
As you inspect, make a "punch list" or checklist of any issues that still need to be resolved in order to meet the conditions in your contract. Bring this list to the seller's attention and work out remedies that are acceptable to you. Preferably, you should get everything squared away before you close. If this doesn't work out for your timing or circumstances, don't worry. It is not uncommon for buyers and sellers to agree on an amount of money to be held in escrow for repairs/remedies to be completed following closing. Consult with your attorney or other closing agent for advice on this and other options that are available and best for you.
You can see that a final walk-through is a very important step that you should not skip or take lightly. Make sure you include a clause in your purchase contract that ensures you have the right to complete this step. Then take the time to exercise that right.
Information is for educational and informational purposes only and is not be interpreted as financial or legal advice. This does not represent a recommendation to buy, sell, or hold any security. Please consult your financial advisor.