What to Look for in a Final Walkthrough [Real Estate Insider]

There are many stages involved in a home sale. Between the offer and closing day, the buyer probably doesn't have access to the home. The final walkthrough allows the buyer one last opportunity to confirm any necessary changes and evaluate the house before the final transaction. 

Why do you need a final walkthrough? 

After an inspection, most buyers will request something to be fixed or updated before the closing date. Most sellers are trustworthy and will complete the tasks before closing. For the buyer's protection, they can evaluate the home one last time before signing the papers. 

The final walkthrough allows you to inspect a home for any problems that have occurred between the time of the tour and the closing date. The process of selling a home can take weeks or even months to complete. A lot can happen between the inspection and the closing date. Some sellers choose to live in the house until the day before closing. Merely living in a home increases the chances of something being broken or misplaced than if they moved out early. 

Even if they've moved out of the home well in advance of the closing date, there are still some problems that could occur. For example, an abandoned house is more vulnerable to break-ins or vandalism. It's a reality that home buyers should be aware of and look for during the walkthrough. Also, empty homes might attract various critters or pests. The point is, even if they're not living in the house, that doesn't mean you shouldn't meticulously evaluate the property during the walkthrough. 

What to Look for in a Walkthrough

It's important to be observant during the final walkthrough and anticipate what you're looking for before entering the house. The buyer and their agent will walk through it together, so be sure to ask if you have any questions or need recommendations on what to look out for. You'll want to study every part of the home to ensure nothing has changed. Take a look at everything from the outside of the home, locks, keypads, passcodes, and of course, every room inside the house. 

Outside and Around the Home

It's easy to overlook the outside of the home, but you should consider being thorough if you're going to make such a large purchase. Take a lap around the exterior and make sure there isn't any damage that wasn't there when you made the offer. This includes the roof, siding, landscaping, garage, and any other exterior structures that come with the property. If the sellers agreed to leave outdoor furniture, then make sure it's still there. Otherwise, make sure they've removed anything you didn't agree to keep with the house. 

Take a good look at the windows and screens from the outside. If there has been poor weather, the screens could have fallen out, or the window might have cracks. You can also take a look at the mailbox to make sure it is still standing and hasn't been damaged. Everything is supposed to be in the same condition or better than you last saw it, so don't be afraid to look with a critical eye. 

Inside the Home

Once you've done the exterior check, it's time to head inside. Be sure to be very observant when looking for potential issues. The first thing you want to check is anything that you've agreed upon from the inspection. The seller is responsible for updating or fixing any problems they find during the inspections. It may be hard to confirm that they fixed some things, so be sure to ask for receipts or proof that the project is complete.

Next, you'll want to look for anything that could potentially be a deal-breaker. Anything that might cost you a chunk of change once you move in because you'll be responsible for fixing anything after you sign the papers. That list should include the HVAC system and thermostat, light fixtures, outlets, garbage disposal, or any damage that would require a professional to fix. 

You'll also want to check any plumbing such as sinks, toilets, and showers. Make sure the water is running, drains well, and the pipes don't leak when used. Any appliances that would be expensive to replace should be working correctly and should have been cleaned. 

Another thing you should check is that all doors close, latch, and lock properly. Doors that are propped open might be a sign that the door doesn't stay open on its own or doesn't shut properly. Windows should open, stay open, close, and latch like they did when you came through the first time. If anything is off, be sure to mention it to your agent. 

Keys, remotes, passcodes, and security systems

If the home has a security system or anything digital like a thermostat, don't forget to check that they're working well and that you know how to use them. If not, be sure to ask the owners to show you how to use it before you sign the papers. 

Most homes have remotes for their automatic garage doors, so be sure to test those. Also, digital padlocks for exterior doors are becoming more common, so make sure you get the code and test it as well. You should get multiple keys, so test the keys and make sure each key works and goes to the door they said it does. Feel free to check any other remotes that are being left with the house as well. It's best to ask the owner to fix it if it doesn't work rather than figuring it out yourself. 

What to do if you find an issue at the walkthrough

If you find something that you think needs to be fixed or replaced, there's still time to work it out with the owners. It might delay the closing or change the terms of the deal, but it's better than having the responsibility of fixing it yourself. If it's a bad enough problem or it breaks the terms of the contract, the buyer can still back out before they sign the papers. However, the best-case scenario is that the buyer and seller can work out a new deal. Most sellers either won't notice the problem until you bring it to their attention, or they already know about it and are expecting the buyer to ask about it. Either way, the seller should be willing to compromise and move on with the sale. 


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