How to Navigate a Final Walk-through

How to Navigate a Final Walk-through

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When you're buying a new home, you'll want to take one final stroll through the property before you sign on the bottom line. This walk-through, as it's called, is typically done a day or so before you close on your new home. 

The purpose of a final walk-through is to take a final glance at the property and make sure everything is in order. You don't have to go on a final walk-through but it's a good idea to make sure the seller has crossed all their T’s and dotted all their I’s.

A final walk through is a much more casual affair than an inspection, but it is your last chance to make sure that the home you are about to buy is in the shape you're expecting. Ideally, a walk-through will be done once the seller has moved out. With all the furniture removed, you can check for damage that may have been previously obscured. It also lets you check off all the items that convey with the house are still there such as appliances, lighting, and any other items you've agreed upon.

When Should You Schedule Your Final Walk-through?

You'll want to schedule a final walk-through as close to closing as you can, but with enough time for the seller to fix any problems you might find. If a wall was damaged when they were moving out or the movers accidentally packed the washer and dryer, the seller is going to need just a little time to rectify the issue.

Minor issues can hopefully be quickly addressed, but if you uncover anything major, it may delay closing. While no one wants that to happen you can use it, as leverage if the seller is reluctant to make the final repairs.

What Should You Look for During a Final Walk-through?

A final walk-through is your last chance to make sure the condition of the home you’re about to buy is in the condition you expect. It is not an inspection but a quick run through, a final glance, before you close. The first thing you’ll want to take note of is whether or not the sellers have completely moved out. Did they leave a bunch of junk in the basement or the garage? Sure it may not seem like a big deal at first, but it’s not your responsibility to clean up their trash. 

Next make sure that all of the items that are supposed to convey are still there. Did they accidentally take the washer and dryer, or the fridge? Sometimes the movers pack things they should have left behind. A final walk-through can clear up any misunderstandings beforehand and make sure the seller has a sense of urgency when fixing the issue. 

Finally, you’ll want to inspect for any damage that may have been hidden or may have been caused when the seller was moving out. Did the movers punch a hole in the wall when removing the furniture? Did a painting on the wall hide water damage? Are the floors beneath the furniture’s resting place in as good a shape as the rest of the room? 

Inspections are designed to uncover large issues, while a final walk-through is designed to button up the details.

What to Do When a Larger Issue is Uncovered

A final walk-through is usually a formality that can uncover mistakes or minor issues. It's a chance to survey the property and make sure that it's move-in ready. Final walk-throughs almost always go smoothly, but sometimes they uncover larger issues that were missed by the inspection or hidden by the seller.

On occasion, buyers have reported discovering major issues such as leaks, electrical problems or water damage. When this happens, it's important to discuss the matter with your real estate agent. It's also a good idea to bring out a professional to survey the damage. This may delay closing and may even tank the deal all together. But when a walk-through uncovers something large, you'll want to make sure that the home you're buying is really the home you thought you were buying.

Uncovering larger issues can also be resolved with the seller by adjusting the sale price of the house. You may also ask for cash to fix the issue instead of insisting it be done before closing. Hopefully, though, these suggestions are all academic. The large majority of final walk-through scenarios go off without a hitch. It's one last glance to make sure your home is move in ready when you're ready to move in.

Frequently Asked Questions About a Final Walk-through

Is the seller present for the walk-through?

No, only you and your real estate agent should be present for the final walk-through. This way you have the privacy you need to discuss any potential issues. If any repairs or changes need to be made your agent  and the seller’s agent should communicate with each other to reach an agreement between both parties.

Can you walk away from closing after a walk-through?

It really depends on the magnitude of the issues. For small things, you may simply negotiate a seller concession, such as $100 to go towards minor drywall repair. If both parties can’t reach an agreement on how to pay for an issue, the seller could have funds from the sale held in an escrow account. This is more common for a situation where an agreed-upon repair wasn’t completed before the walk-through.

When should you do a final walk-through?

The closer to closing, the better. However, a walk-through typically must be completed within 48 hours before you’re scheduled to close. The night before is quite common since the seller should be gone by that point. 

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