You’ve found the home you love, made the offer, and the seller has accepted. You’ve gotten your inspections done, your loan is being finalized and an escrow closing date has been set.
Great. But you’re not quite finished yet.
Your next step is a final walk-through, arranged through your real estate agent, at least a week before closing. The goal: Ensure the property’s condition hasn’t changed since your last visit, that any agreed-upon repairs have been made and that the terms of your contract will be met. Depending on your contract or local customs, a walk-through may be informal or more formal. In a formal arrangement, you will actually sign a contract addendum confirming that you’ve done your walk-through and everything is as it should be.
Here’s what you need to know for your final walk-through:
- A final walk-through isn’t a home inspection. You’ve already done that by now (or should have).
- Take your contract with you. You might need to refer to it while on site.
- In many markets, the buyers and sellers never actually meet in person. But if everyone is agreeable to the idea, perform the final walk-through in the seller’s presence. He or she knows the home better than anyone else and should be able to answer your questions and provide some color on the history of the home.
- If the home is vacant, it’s even more important to do a final walk-through. Since your last visit, for instance, someone might have left a faucet dripping, inadvertently causing water damage.
- Take along a checklist of things to do during the final walk-through, including:
- Check the exterior of the home, especially if there have been strong wind or rain storms since your last visit.
- Turn all light fixtures on and off.
- Make sure the seller hasn’t removed any fixtures, such as chandeliers, that he or she agreed to leave behind.
- Check all major appliances.
- Turn heat and/or air conditioning on and off.
- Turn on water faucets; check for leaks under sinks.
- Test the garage door openers.
- Flush all toilets.
- Open and close all windows and doors.
- Do a visual spot-check of ceilings, walls and floors.
- Turn on the garbage disposal and exhaust fans.
- Check the status of any agreed-upon repairs.
- Check screens and storm windows. If they’ve been stored, make sure you know where they are and that they’re in good shape.
- Look in storage areas to make sure no trash or unwanted items remain. Old paint cans or hazardous materials are often left behind by the seller.
- Do a quick check of the grounds. Some sellers have dug up and taken plants (even small trees or bushes) with them.
Taking an hour for one last inspection is a good investment in your time. After all, you don’t want to spend the first weeks in your new home cleaning up or making unexpected repairs.