The entire purpose of a final walk-through goes back to the initial exchange between you and the seller of your soon-to-be new home. In real estate, there is a dynamic known as “offer and acceptance”. This concept applies to any contractual relationship, really. All it means is that once the other party accepts the offer that you have submitted to them, the contract is considered fully executed. In other words, at this point, all parties are legally bound by the terms of their agreement. Every purchase agreement contains a certain set of requirements that must be met in order for the transaction to take place. One of the most obvious stipulations will have to do with property condition. (Is the home being sold as-is? Did the seller promise to make certain repairs to the property?)
Another common type of requirement is what we call a contingency. These are requirements that must be performed in order for the transaction to be finalized, and you are given a chance to double-check all of this prior to closing. Some contingencies deal with intangibles, such as time and cost, which are requirements that your Realtor® will ensure are met. For tangible requests, however, you’ll perform what is known as a final walk-through. It’s such an exciting experience, which also means it’s easy to get distracted and overwhelmed. To make things easier, we’ve provided an overview of what you can expect and what you need to watch for when you make that last visit before you become a homeowner.
Tips to Make the Most of Your Final Walk-Through
- If extensive repairs were requested after your initial inspection, order a second inspection to ensure that all work has been performed according to reasonable standards. Don’t take a chance on trusting reports provided to you by the seller or the seller’s contractors. If you feel it is absolutely necessary, ask your inspector to also join you on your final walk-through.
- Bring any applicable documents that you may need for reference. If you think you’ll need to glance back at your contract or original inspection report, bring them. As a precaution, bring the seller’s agent’s contact information, as well.
- Take your time! This final walkthrough can save you a tremendous amount of time and money, in cases where something important has been forgotten. Give this process your full attention.
The Home’s Exterior
- Check the doorbell, garage door opener, in-ground sprinklers, and any other system on the exterior of the home to ensure that all are in working order.
- Verify that all doors, windows, and screens are in the same condition you remember. This is especially important for homes that have stood vacant for any amount of time.
- Inspect all walkways, driveways, patios and decks.
- Do a quick check of the grounds, especially on homes with high-end landscaping. It’s not uncommon for sellers to dig up a favorite plant, and you want to ensure that they haven’t taken something that you intended to keep.
The Home’s Interior
- Check all plumbing very carefully. Flush every toilet, and inspect every fixture. It’s wise to turn faucets on low when you arrive, and let them run while you take inventory of the rest of the house. This gives you a chance to check under cabinets for leaks that you would not have noticed by simply turning the faucet on and off.
- Ensure that all light fixtures and appliances are still in place. Inspect appliances for functionality and condition. Don’t forget “hidden” appliances, such as trash compactors and in-sink garbage disposals. Turn ceiling fans on at all speeds and back off again.
- Turn on the heating system, followed by cooling, to ensure that both are working properly.
- Look in all storage areas to be sure that no unwanted items have been left behind. On the other hand, you also need to see that the seller did not take any items that should have stayed (this happens often with window treatments).
Most importantly, check the status of any requested repairs. It may mean postponing your closing appointment, but always speak up if the other party has failed to meet his or her contractual responsibilities. If you proceed without addressing these issues, the problem (and expense) becomes your own.
Navigating the home purchase process can be confusing, even for a seasoned real estate buyer. Before you even begin to shop for your future home, be sure that you are familiar with the basic steps that occur between your first property visit and your first night in your new house. Contact a member of our team at (206) 465-7215 to learn more about what it takes to execute a smooth and stress-free home purchase.