One of the most important steps in the process of buying a home is the final walk-through. This is where the buyer can confirm the house is in the same condition he/she has agreed to buy it in. It’s also an opportunity to ensure that the agreed upon repairs, if any, were made as specified and nothing has gone wrong with the house since he/she last looked at it.
Sometimes, home buyers do not pay enough attention to the final walk-through because they’re too excited about finally closing on a home particularly if it has taken a while to find the right home for them. This may lead to small problems once the buyer takes ownership. On the contrary, the final walk through can raise both negative and positive emotions during this last part of the home selling process.
It is smart to take the walk-through seriously and think things through. Do not see it as just checking a box. During the walk through you should open all the faucets and inspect them for leaks. Ensure that the appliances work, turn heat or/and air conditioning on and off, start the fireplace, flush the toilet and open every window to its fullest, then close it tight and check for air leaks.
Below are some tips for buyers to help them complete an effective and smooth walk-through.
- Avoid a walk-through on the closing day
A walk-through can lead to the discovery of repairs that have to be made, but that you did not know about before. If you do the walk through on the same day as the closing, you might not have enough time to have the problems resolved.
It isn’t uncommon for two walk-throughs to occur. The first walk-through identifies some problems for the buyer, and the second ensures those problems were addressed.
You can also push back the closing so that you can address the issues. However, the problem is that your lender might not have approved a delayed closing. It is better to thrash out any issues well in advance.
- Use your cell phone to check the outlets
Plug a phone in and out of the electrical outlets so that you can ensure that the electricity works. You want to avoid moving in your belongings, only to realize that some of the outlets do not work.
Bring your charger and phone to the walk through and test all the electrical outlets. It’s easy and quick.
- Have an eye for junk left behind by sellers
Sometimes, sellers may be too caught up in moving to their new home that they may forget to remove their old household junk. You should take the time to check the attic, under the deck and garage. The sellers might just assume that you want to use their old paint cans or an old propane tank..
In fact, the seller should leave the house completely empty. Some of the left behind items, like the paint, can be toxic or may require special provisions for their disposal.
- Ask for keys, alarm codes, garage openers and manuals
Before completing the final walk-through, be sure to ask for working keys to all the doors, garage openers, alarm codes, and any system or appliance manuals. It is also a good idea to ask the seller for copies of receipts for any promised repairs.
- Be emotionally prepared for a surprise
Buyers normally fall in love with a house that is full of belongings, furniture and art. They see it as a welcoming home, and remember a warm feeling.
Fast forward to the close of escrow and you are faced with an empty house, which can feel rather hollow and cold.
Buyers are usually surprised by how they feel when they enter an empty home. Besides the emptiness that is created by the absence of furniture, some imperfections may show up – carpet stains, mildly bleached doors, holes on walls which previously covered by paintings or a television screen etc. An empty house tends to show poorly; hence you should prepare yourself mentally before the walk-through.
The journey towards owning a home is usually a long one, filled with ups and downs and lots of excitement. The final walk through is one of the last steps of what may end up being a multiple year process.
Consider the walk through well in advance and prepare for it physically, mentally and emotionally. Know what you are looking for, make a list of all the things that you need to check, and keep your feelings and emotions in mind.