By Jasmine Eddy | 09.07.20
A new homeowner closed on her brand new house. Her realtor hands her the keys.
She’s excited to settle into her new home.
The house is pretty hot when she first walks in, so she turns on the air conditioning.
After a couple of minutes she realizes that the AC is blowing hot air.
The seller reported a completed requested repair a few days before closing. Yet, it’s clear that the job wasn’t finished. Now the new homeowner is stuck with a damaged AC unit and a repair bill.
Situations like this are avoidable when buyers and their agents perform a final walkthrough before closing.
What is a Final Walkthrough in Real Estate?
The final walk through is an important step in the closing process.
California’s stipulation 16 in the Residential Purchase Agreement allows property buyers to do a final walkthrough 5 days before closing.
The walkthrough is an opportunity for buyers to ensure that the property is in the same or better condition than it was during their last viewing.
At this point, the buyer’s requested repairs are complete, or near completion.
The buyer and their agent perform a thorough inspection of the property to ensure that everything is in order.
What to Look for in the Final Walkthrough
Many home buyers are not sure what they should look out for during a final walkthrough. So, it’s important for agents to attend to make sure a thorough inspection is performed.
A thorough walkthrough can take 2 – 3 hours to complete.
Agents often take notes and photos during the inspection. This is useful to have for their client’s records and for requesting last minute repairs.
The first items to assess during the final walkthrough are the requested repairs.
Once you have taken note of the repair status, begin inspecting the property room by room.
Final Walkthrough Inspection Checklist
Creating a checklist is a good tool to keep track of the items to test in each room. Common checklist items include:
- Review the completion of requested repairs
- Test all lights and outlets
- Test all faucets, showers, and toilets
- Look inside all cabinetry
- Test all appliances
- Test garage doors and all doors
- Inspect ceilings, walls, and floors
- Test HVAC, warm air and cool air
- Run garbage disposal and exhaust fans
An inspection of the property’s exterior is as important, so be sure to walk around the outside.
Look for any signs of damage to the siding or roofing.
Additionally, notice if there are any significant changes to the land on the property.
Sometimes the sellers will remove items that sold with the house. Examples include landscaping or outdoor structures, like sheds.
Other items that were not sold with the house may be left behind. So, check out what is on the property at the final walkthrough.
The Final Walkthrough for the Home Seller
As a home seller or listing agent, you can help make the final walkthrough process easier. Here’s how:
#1 Streamline the Final Walkthrough Process
If possible, it’s ideal for the seller to move out of the house before the final walkthrough.
This makes property examination easier for the buyer. But, if moving out before closing is not an option, sellers should make the home available for the buyer.
It helps to remove or pack up as much of the personal belongings as possible.
#2 All Repairs Completed
Aim to complete the buyer’s request for repairs as soon as possible.
Keep copies of the service contracts and receipts. These will come in handy if there are any disputes with the contractors or buyers.
Once every repair is complete, the seller should perform their own final walkthrough. Testing every repaired item ensures that any remaining issues are caught before closing.
Also, if there are items missed during the home inspection, sellers will benefit from addressing those sooner rather than later. Examples include running toilets or leaks under the sink.
#3 Check on the Property
Professionals recommend sellers vacate the property before the final walkthrough.
But, if the seller has moved out several weeks before closing, they may not be able to keep a close eye on the property.
If the seller is still in town, it’s a good idea to check on the property once or twice a week to ensure the home is in good condition.
If the seller has moved out of the area, enlisting the seller’s agent, a family member, or close friend to keep an eye on the property is another option.
Finding Home Issues During the Final Walkthrough
Completing the final walkthrough within a few days of closing is convenient. If new issues appear or the negotiated repairs are not complete, there is still time to address them.
First, the buyer’s agent needs to address repairs or other issues by reaching out to the listing agent.
Chances are these issues are fixable within a few days. But, in the event of larger problems buyers have a couple of options.
Some repairs take more time to complete.
In that case, the buyers may request to delay the closing. In other cases, the parties may agree to proceed with closing, but set up an escrow holdback account.
Working with the Lending Company
This account allows the lender to set aside part of the home loan to be released to the seller once the repairs are completed.
The lending company withholds more than the repair estimate. This is to motivate sellers to swiftly complete the repairs.
The most common time frame given for the repairs is 60 days.
Finally, if the house’s condition has deteriorated to a state where the repairs are costly and time intensive, the buyer can walk away from the deal.
This is likely to happen if natural disasters, fires, or vandalism damage the property.
Final Thoughts on the Final Walkthrough in Real Estate
The final walkthrough is an important step in the closing process. The buyer has a last chance to review the property.
Sellers can ensure that they have met every obligation.
Conducting a final walkthrough on a house gives every party involved peace of mind. Also, it leads to a smooth transfer of property.
What are some of your tips and tricks for a successful final walkthrough?