After all the houses you looked at and all the steps you had to take to finally get to closing day on your new home, there's one last thing homebuyers must do....
The final walkthrough.
When exactly should you do it?
Why are you doing it?
How should you do it?
I always do the walkthrough with my clients on the day of closing. Anything can happen from one day to the next. What if you did the walkthrough the day before and then it rained hard non-stop over the next 24 hours, you closed and THEN found, as a new homeowner, there was significant water seepage in the basement? Nope… always best to walk through as close to closing as possible.
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. For example, if the contract stated the washer and dryer are included, then they must be there.
So why are you doing this again? You had the property inspected by a home inspector. You possibly asked for some repairs which may already have been verified by you and your agent. So why are you checking again?
The main purpose of the final walkthrough is to ensure the property is in the condition you expect it to be, with any negotiated repairs completed, and nothing has changed (except for normal wear and tear) since the contract was made.
Remember Buyers … This is not the home inspection. This is not a time to make out a punch list of things you think need to be fixed. That ship has sailed. IF you find something not as expected per contract or repair agreement then report this to the listing agent/attorney. It might be possible to work it out before closing and to the satisfaction of the buyers. Otherwise, the attorneys may hold money in escrow for the estimated expense.
Just how should a walkthrough be done? What do you do?
Here are basic guidelines I follow 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
Inspect ceilings, wall and floors
Check garage door openers
Check basement and attic for items left behind and water seepage/leaking
Make sure all owner's personal belongings are removed from the property except any agreed to be left.
Here are three real life examples from my experience off the top of my head on the importance of a walkthrough …
After running the water and flushing the toilets, we found a main floor bath had a significant leak and was creating a pool of water in the basement.
Sellers left a significant amount of ‘things’ in the basement and garage for the buyers. none of which the buyers agreed to. Some of things left were paint cans, broken shelving, old gas grill, gas propane tank, huge storage unit on its last legs ... plus more.
Range/oven was not working. It was during home inspection.
In all of the above situations monies were held back in escrow and all were worked out shortly afterward.
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 or a full dumpster in the driveway, be sure that it will be removed (and paid for) prior to closing. If there is a lot of acreage, walk the property to be sure it is as expected.
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.