The final walk-through in real estate was designed so that the buyer can confirm the home is in the same condition as when they made their offer and had the home inspected. Its also an opportunity to make sure the seller has actually vacated.
From time to time, a buyer and seller will have negotiated any number of fixes during escrow. The walk-through gives the buyer a chance to make sure all the agreed-upon work has been done to specifications, and that everything is in working order.
Sometimes, buyers are so excited to close that they quickly whisk through the walk-through without taking time to inspect the property. This can lead to small issues once the buyers take ownership. On the other hand, the final walk-through can raise both positive and negative emotions during this final part of the sale process.
It’s smart to take the walk-through seriously. Don’t see it as simply checking a box. You should run all the faucets and check for leaks. Flush the toilet bowls, open every window and close it and make sure the appliances work.
Here are some tips for buyers to help complete a smooth and effective walk-through.
Don’t do the walk-through the day of closing
A walk-through can uncover repairs that need to be made, but that you didn’t know about before. If you do the walk-through the same day as the closing, there may not be time to get problems remedied.
It’s not uncommon for two walk-throughs to happen. The first identifies some issues for the buyer, and the second makes sure those issues were addressed.
The alternative is to push the closing back to address the issues. The problem here is that your lender may not have approved a delayed closing. It’s better to hammer out any issues in advance.
Use your mobile phone to check the outlets
Plug a phone into all of the outlets to make sure the electricity works. You want to avoid moving in all your stuff, only to realize some outlets don’t work, and you lack light in a bedroom.
Bring your phone and charger to the walk-through and test all the outlets. It’s quick and easy.
Be on the lookout for the sellers’ leftover belongings
Sellers are notorious for leaving junk behind, so take the time to check the garage and attic, and under the deck. The sellers may just assume you want their old paint cans or a propane tank for a future grill.
In fact, they should leave the place completely empty. Some left-behind items, such as the paint, can be toxic or require special provisions for disposal. For example, one seller left behind all kinds of used oil that needed to go to a certain, state-approved car repair shop to be disposed of properly. These unwanted items become yours after you close.
Be emotionally prepared for a surprise
Buyers often fall in love with a home that’s full of furniture, art and belongings. They see it as a home, and remember a warm feeling.
Fast-forward to the close of escrow and you’re faced with an empty home, which can feel cold, sterile or hollow.
Buyers are often surprised by how they feel entering an empty home. Not only is it absent any furniture and “stuff,” but sometimes an empty home shows its imperfections, too.
The sun may have slightly bleached floors, showing the outline of a rug. There may be carpet stains or holes in the wall from a flat-screen TV or paintings. An empty home tends to show poorly, so prepare yourself before the walk-through.
The journey toward homeownership is often a long one, filled with lots of excitement and ups and downs. The final walk-through is one of the very last steps of what could be a multiple-year process.
Consider the walk-through in advance and prepare for it mentally, emotionally and physically. Know what you want to look for, have a checklist, and keep your emotions and feelings in check. Doing so will make for a smooth ride to the close of escrow.