You’ve nearly gone through the entire homebuying process. From those early days of using a mortgage calculator to see how much house you could afford, to touring homes online or in-person, and then finally and excitedly making an offer on your first home. Now here you are, the home inspection is complete, your bank’s appraiser has submitted their report, and the bank has given the green light to send settlement funds to the title company. All the stars have aligned, and this transaction looks like it’s on track to close without a hitch. Except there’s just one last thing to do: the final walk-through. And luckily for you, we’ve created the ultimate guide for your final walkthrough checklist to help ensure a smooth closing.
What occurs during the final walk-through before closing?
The final walk-through is your last chance – before you take ownership of the home – to ensure that:
- All requested repairs are complete
- No new repair or maintenance issues have come up since the inspection
- All of the agreed-upon fixtures and furniture, detailed in the contract, are still in place in the home
- All systems and appliances that the seller indicated to be functioning correctly at the time of the offer are still functioning properly
While this can seem like a lot of items to double-check, you’ll be glad you took the time to do it right. Unfortunately, things can and do happen during the move-out process, while the house sits vacant or because the homeowner or tradesperson failed to complete a repair correctly.
When should the final walk-through take place?
Ideally, the final walk-through should happen as close to closing on the home as possible. The seller’s possessions should be completely moved out, which gives you a better look at the home while it’s vacant, especially for any issues that furniture or appliances might have concealed. If you can’t do your walk-through on the day of closing, you’ll want to aim for no more than 2-3 days ahead of closing.
The last thing you want to do is take possession of your new home, and find out that there’s a problem that emerged since you were last in the house as a prospective buyer, which may have been weeks ago.
Who should be present during the final walk-through?
The buyer and the buyer’s real estate agent are the only people required to attend a final walk-through. The seller should not be present unless the buyer makes a specific request for them to attend, in which case their real estate agent should also be there.
It is also at the buyer’s discretion whether they’d like the home inspector or any of the professionals who made repairs to be present. As the buyer, this may result in an additional charge from the inspector, but if you’re double-checking to ensure work was done correctly, the cost will be worth it.
How long does a final walk-through take?
The time it takes to do the walk-through depends on the house’s size and how thorough you are in your examination. For a 1,200 square-foot house, it might take only 20 minutes to check all the rooms, closets, and cabinets. In a larger house, this process could take an hour or two.
Give yourself an appropriate amount of time to check all of the house systems, storage areas, interior rooms, and exterior features like sprinkler systems, power awnings, etc. No need to rush – you want to be sure there are no surprises when you move in, like a toilet that doesn’t flush or a missing appliance.
What should a buyer look for during a final walk-through?
The main point to keep in mind for your walk-through is that it’s not another home inspection. This is not the time to bring up entirely new items that you or your inspector did not find the first or second time around. This is a cursory inspection to ensure the house reflects the condition you remember when you made the offer.
What part does the seller play in the final walk-through?
The seller must leave the house in “broom swept” condition, meaning they vacuumed, wiped down the countertops in the kitchen and bathrooms, and swept the floor.
They also must leave behind anything they agreed to in the sales agreement. They can’t decide after the fact that they want to take the window treatments along to their next home. It’s also not acceptable for sellers to leave behind belongings they just don’t want or need anymore, like old clothes, tools and other gear, or just plain junk.
If damage occurred while removing pictures, televisions, or anything else hung or installed, the seller should make these repairs. Sellers should also review the agreed-upon offer to make sure they fixed everything on their list and left behind all the items they agreed to leave.
Mistakes do happen as well as inadequate repairs, especially in the flurry of moving. This is why a final walk-through is so important.