A final walkthrough is an opportunity for you and your real estate agent to inspect the property, room by room, before the official closing. It is the time to confirm that the seller made agreed upon repairs, to verify that the seller has not removed anything from the home he or she was not supposed to, and to check that no new issues have cropped up since the home inspection.
A final walkthrough is never a waste of time, even if you feel confident about the house. Buying a house is a big financial investment and you should be satisfied that everything is okay before you commit.
Who Attends a Final Walkthrough?
Generally, it is the buyer and his/her real estate agent who attend the final walkthrough. The real estate agent is there to help the buyer through the process, and may have a better idea of what to look for. In the event that something is wrong with the home, your agent can help the next steps.
Final Walkthrough Checklist
According to Rocket Mortgage (https://www.rocketmortgage.com), here is a checklist of what to look for during your walkthrough.
Inspection Repairs: You probably included an inspection contingency or a few requests for repairs when you submitted an offer for your home. Did the seller agree to make repairs before closing? The final walkthrough is your last opportunity to confirm that the seller made the required repairs or that no new, obvious repairs still need to be made. This is the last time you can ensure that the repairs are up to your standards and include quality work.
Bring along a copy of your inspection summary as well as your final, accepted offer letter, and check up on every repair the seller agreed to. Do not simply take the seller’s word that everything’s in good working order – check for yourself. For example, the seller might have agreed to fix one of the light switches in the dining room. Flip the light on and make sure it stays on. Does your purchase agreement include new faucets?
Ask the seller for the warranties or repair receipts for all work they did on the home. Know who to call if something breaks again after you move in. This can save you money, as most home repair companies offer limited-time warranties that include free fixes.
Belongings Moved In Or Out: You want to make sure the seller is completely moved out of the home before you close. This is beneficial for you as the buyer for two reasons. First, walking through an empty home makes it much easier to spot new defects that may have occurred when the seller was moving out, as well as repairs that were not completed as agreed. Second, ensuring that the homeowner is all moved out saves you the trouble of cleaning up someone else’s stuff.
Look in every room and check for any belongings that the seller left behind. Double-check for leftover toys and lawn equipment, too. Do not forget to look in all of the closets, the attic, the basement and any garages or sheds. You might want to close off each room as you check in order to ensure that you do not miss an area.
Review your acceptance letter from the seller for everything they agreed to leave behind. Check for appliances, fixtures and other items that are part of your agreement. Contact the seller before closing if you notice they left something behind that they should not have, or they have taken something they agreed to leave.
Locks and Windows: Make sure your home is totally secure before closing. Here are some things to include on your checklist:
- Do all windows and doors lock and unlock correctly?
- Do all windows slide open easily?
- Do any windows or doors stick (which can be a major hazard in the event of a fire or other emergency)?
- Are there holes, tears or defects in the window screens? Are any missing?
- Do window screens pop out easily?
- Additionally, your home may be equipped with an alarm system that tells you when a window or exterior door is open. Arm your alarm and make sure the sensors on all of your doors and windows work.
Appliances: Confirm that all of the appliances in the home work as you would expect. Here are some essential tests you need to run when you do your walkthrough:
- Make sure your oven heats up without smelling like gas.
- Run the dishwasher through a full cycle. You may want to toss in a dirty dish to make sure it comes out clean and undamaged.
- Turn the washing machine and dryer on and off.
- Run water in all of the drains to make sure they drain out and do not clog.
- Make sure there aren’t any strange smells coming from the running water.
- Run the garbage disposal if the home has one.
- Open and close the garage door. Make sure it opens and closes only when you use the correct key or code.
- Run your heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system on both heating and air-conditioning mode. Make sure the home heats up or cools down in a reasonable amount of time.
- Arm and disarm the home’s security system if it has one. Confirm that only the correct code or key can activate the system.
- Flush every single toilet to make sure they work well. Verify that the water shutoff valves near the base of the toilets also work.
- Run the water in your showers and sinks. Make sure the water gets hot and cold in a reasonable amount of time, check the water pressure in the shower and confirm that your bathtub holds water when you plug the drain.
Ensuring that all of your appliances work before closing can save you money on repair bills after closing. Are you buying the home as-is? Write down what needs to be replaced or repaired. This will make it easier to fix up your home later.
Mold: Mold can become a large and expensive problem even between the time the homeowner moves out and when you move in. It can spring up in as little as a few days, so carefully inspect moist areas like the bathroom and kitchen. Here are some checklist items for you:
- Pay special attention to toilet bases and around the drain of your bathtub or shower.
- Open your sink cabinets and check for mold around your sinks as well.
- Inspect the base of the refrigerator and sinks.
- Check the bottom of your dishwasher and the bottom of any kitchen doors that lead outside.
Electricity and Outlets: Most electrical systems work on a current, which means that if even a single outlet in the home is not working, you might quickly have problems with other outlets. Walk through the house with your cell phone charger and plug it into every outlet in every room. You do not need to wait and see if the outlet charges your phone, just ensure that your charger registers the outlet as soon as you plug it in. You can also purchase a multi-meter to check each outlet. Next, check the plate covers on the electrical switches. Make sure the plates look secure and that there are no signs of damage. Confirm that the home’s light fixtures, doorbells and garage door openers work as well.
Backyard and Outdoors: Inspect the outside of the property as closely as you inspect the home’s interior. Take a walk around the lawn or backyard and make sure the landscaping looks great. Some sellers dig up bushes, plants and even small trees when they leave their property behind. If the house has a gate, take a walk around it both on the interior and exterior of the property. Make sure the gate latches and unlatches easily.
Does the home have a pool? Inspect the pool and look for mold, mildew and damage to the lining. Test and inspect the pool gate. Take notes of any damage, holes or wood rot you find on the fence.
Look at the home’s irrigation system, if it has one. Turn the water on and off and make note of any sprinklers that are not working. Inspect the interior and exterior of any sheds. Confirm that the homeowner has not left any dangerous chemicals or tools lying around.
Pests: Pests can move in after the seller moves out even if a home is totally clean during an inspection. Keep a careful eye out for termites, rodents and ants, especially if the homeowner left garbage behind. Also look for mouse droppings, bite marks on wood and other signs of uninvited critters. Dry rot, spongy floors and wooden walls that look like they are covered in tiny pinholes can all be signs of termites. Do not forget to inspect the chimney; birds and raccoons often make their homes inside chimneys after a home has been uninhabited for even a little while.
According to St. Petersburg realtor Estelia Mesimer, the final walkthrough is a buyer’s last chance to spot problems and confirm the repairs the seller agreed to make have been completed. She says, the final walkthrough is a critical step in the home buying process.
What to Do If You Find Issues during the Final Walkthrough
In a perfect world, buyers would always go do the final walkthrough to find the home in great condition, with the seller having repaired everything they said they would. And while it is often the case that the final walkthrough goes smoothly, it is possible that buyers will find problems.
There are several options available to you if you find problems; which you choose is likely to depend on the severity of the issues. For example:
- For a minor issue, ask the seller to fix it before the closing.
- Delay the closing so the seller has time to fix the problem.
- Withhold money from the seller’s proceeds in an escrow account to pay for the repairs after the closing.
- In extreme circumstances where there is major damage to the home or an expensive fix that the seller refused to repair, you may have to either walk away from the sale or take legal action.
Checklist: Your Final Walk-Through
St. Petersburg Communities
Greater Pinellas Point
Historic Old Northeast
Historic Roser Park
Isla del Sol
If you’re interested in any of these of communities or live in one and are thinking of selling, talk to The Mesimer Team.