Real Estate Final Inspection -- The Walkthrough Before Closing
You're almost at the end of the transaction. You can see the light at the end of the tunnel, but you're not done yet. It's time to schedule the walkthrough of your soon-to-be home.
The main purpose of the final walkthrough is to be sure the property is in the condition you expect it to be and nothing has changed (except for normal wear and tear) since the contract was made. Period.
Buyers: This is not the home inspection. Provided an inspection was done, this is the time to be sure any repairs agreed to as a result of that inspection were completed.
This is not a time to make out a punch list of things you don't like about the house that you think need to be fixed. Sorry, too late. You do want to make a list, though, of any issues that may need to be resolved so that the conditions of the contract are met.
These are the items I cover on the walkthrough where applicable:
- Using a copy of the contract, check to be sure all items listed are in place (i.e., appliances, lighting fixtures, window treatments, etc.)
- Turn all lights on and off - interior and exterior
- Test all appliances
- Run exhaust fans in kitchen and baths
- Run garbage disposal
- Run ceiling fans
- Test heating and air conditioning (weather permitting)
- Run water in sinks and bath and look for leaks
- Open and close all doors and windows
- Flush toilets
- Inspect ceilings, wall and floors
- Check garage door openers
- Bring along a plug-in night light to test the electrical outlets especially if there was a repair or upgrade since the inspection
- Check basement and attic for items left behind and water seepage/leaking
- Make sure all owner's personal belongings are removed from the property
When should the walkthrough be done? Usually, within five days (or as the contract specifies) before closing. I like to do my walkthroughs no more than one day before closing or the day of closing.
Important: The seller should have already vacated the premises. Why? Well if not, you cannot be sure that personal items in the house will be left behind for you to deal with. You also want to make sure everything you expect to be in the house, per the contract, is there and has not been removed.
What about the exterior? Check to be sure there are no unwanted items left behind. If there is garbage at the curb waiting for a pickup, be sure that it will be done (and, if applicable, paid for) prior to closing. If there is a lot of acreage, walk the property to be sure it is as expected.
What if you find something not as expected? This should be reported to the listing agent/seller/attorneys. If it is possible to work it out before closing and to the satisfaction of the buyers, then it should be done. Otherwise, the attorneys will usually hold money in escrow for the estimated expense, or the seller can sign an agreement to correct the defect.
Although the walkthrough is not mandatory, it should never be passed up by the buyers provided there is a provision for it in the contract.