The seller accepted and inked your purchase offer several weeks ago. You dutifully completed the financing application, interest rate lock and home inspection response. Closing is just around the corner.
It’s smooth sailing now. However, one of the last and most important steps remains.
Before you sit down to sign your closing documents at the title company, you need to perform a final walk through of your new home with your agent. Ideally, this appointment is conducted between 24-72 hours in advance of the closing.
This is the last opportunity to look closely at your new purchase to make sure that the condition of the home aligns with the purchase agreement terms. Don’t skip this step.
Budget at least 30-45 minutes for this showing appointment.
If the home is occupied, your Realtor® is going to schedule the appointment a few days in advance with the seller. Just like a standard showing, the seller will ideally be absent from the property. This allows you and your agent time alone to review last minute checklists prior to close of escrow. It is important at this time to notify the seller to keep utilities on (gas, water, electric) until after your final walk through appointment is complete.
What To Expect
At your final walk through, you will see scratches in baseboards, small nail holes in walls, dusty air filters and stains on the garage floor that you hadn’t noticed during earlier visits. Don’t stress. These things are common and should not be a reason to hold up the proceedings.
What you are looking for on this visit:
- Completed repairs by the seller and/or contractors that are outlined in the inspection negotiations. Repairs might be documented by paid invoices left at the property.
- Appliances, electronics and equipment (perhaps furniture) that the seller is agreeing to include with the sale.
- Significant changes in the condition (i.e. large holes in walls, missing light fixtures, cracked glass, a broken pool pump or roof damage from a recent storm).
Don’t send your Realtor® to walk through alone to sign off on the condition. A professional agent will insist that you are present and will accompany you for the duration.
Waiting until the day of closing to perform the final walk is a recipe for trouble, especially if the home is occupied and being vacated by the seller. There is no time to address the leaking roof issue that the seller forgot to repair or secure adequate assurances when you are driving to the closing.
What You Will Need
There are a few items to pack that will increase the effectiveness of the final walk through. What should you bring?
- copy of the purchase contract
- copy of the inspection report
- list of to-be-completed inspection repairs
- list of the home appliances to be included with the sale (usually documented in the purchase agreement or amendment)
If any of the agreed repairs are located in the attic (like an A/C unit), remember to make accommodation for a ladder.
Sellers could be up to their ears in moving boxes and packing peanuts. It’s not uncommon for the home to be completely disorganized at this time. It won’t look as polished as it was on the first visit. After all, the seller is moving out in a few days.
The seller might be slow to approve the appointment due to the condition of the home. Reassure them that you understand that they are moving out. Immaculate presentation of the home is not important at this time. Expect to walk over and around moving boxes and moving crews.
What About New Construction and Income Properties?
Investors, when you are purchasing an income property and the tenant is scheduled to move out before closing day, do not perform your final walk through until they have vacated. Departing tenants and their personal property should be out before you sign the line.
When having a home built, there is a general expectation that the home builder will address cosmetic deficiencies like small holes in walls, scratches on drywall or carpet stains. Your builder may use the final walkthrough to familiarize you with the mechanical operation of your new home (location of water shut off valves, air filter replacement, programming appliances, pool pump operation). Allow at least 90 minutes for this type of appointment.
Should I Bring My Inspector Back?
Some buyers elect to bring their home inspector back to the property at the final walkthrough to approve repairs that were performed by the seller or his contractors. Return trips will have an associated fee, usually $100-$150. If there were major mechanical components repaired, it might make sense to pay for the revisit. However, if the seller was just replacing a GFCI outlet or a cracked clay roof tile, these things can be observed easily and may not require the eye of an inspector.
How Clean Should The Home Be?
The seller should generally leave the home in “broom swept” condition. It would not be customary for the seller to steam clean the carpets, patch tiny nail holes, repaint walls or provide the services of a professional house cleaner. It is common for a seller to leave a few cans of matching paint in the garage as a courtesy. If trash day has passed, the seller may have a few boxes or bags on the curb that will stay over a few days.
Show and Tell
The final walk-through is a good time to bring relatives and friends. They have wanted to see the home that you have been talking about for weeks. Your Realtor® will need your attention during part of the appointment for paperwork. He may also need to review what to expect at the closing table.
The final walk is a great time to let the kids select their new bedrooms. Invite your friends to come along check out your new digs.
For a list of questions to ask the seller before closing, see this article.
“Real estate investing, even on a very small scale, remains a tried and true means of building an individual’s cash flow and wealth. -Robert Kiyosaki, financial literacy speaker, radio host and author of Rich Dad Poor Dad series.