Home purchase: The Final Walk-through Inspection
The walk-through inspection
There may be different laws and ways of transferring real estate in various areas of the United States. One thing that does not change is the need for the buyer to do a final walk-through inspection right before the closing.
At some point before the closing, a home inspection should have been performed by a licensed or certified home inspector in your state. The home inspector has a checklist and checks the home for defects. This includes appliances, furnaces and air conditioning, roofs, electric, plumbing, sprinkler systems, pools, pumps, windows, etc. Unless waived by the buyer, these items are supposed to be working in the manner that they were intended to operate.
By the time of the final walk-through, any needed repairs that have been agreed upon should have been done and any other negotiations out of the way. The repairs may or may not be easily discernible by the buyer and agent, so do not forget to obtain your copy of the itemized bill. At the final walk-through, the buyer will check to ensure that the repairs are done, if possible, and check the home for other problems.
What are we looking at?
We usually run the water, flush the toilet, check the burners, turn on the disposal and all the other things that we, as laymen, are able to check to ensure continued performance. The new thing is that now the buyer can see the house in all its naked glory. Sometimes, that can be a disappointment. Furniture in a room can hide a lot of sins.
A Naked House is not Attractive
A possible scenario: The Seller has moved out the sofa and now there is a big stain on the carpet, etc. Unfortunately, there is little that the buyer can do because cosmetic defects are not usually guaranteed in the contract. Hopefully, you have not signed a contract unaware of what it contains, so you already know this.
pitted marcite; tears, worn spots, floor coverings,
wallpaper, windowstreatments; nail holes, scratches, dents, scrapes,
tile, fixtures, mirrors, ceiling, walls, flooring, tile, fixtures, mirrors;
ceiling, walls, flooring
scratches, dents, scrapes, chips
cracked roof tiles; curling or worn shingles; and minor cracks in floor
driveways, sidewalks, pool decks
So, why bother with the walk-through? What if the Seller has taken the refrigerator that was included in the purchase, or replaced the sub-zero with one from the garage? What if some walls were damaged when they moved their furniture? While cosmetic defects are typically not included, any damage that occurs after the contract has been signed is. The Seller is expected to keep the property in the same condition from the date the contract was signed until the closing, except for normal wear and tear.
Unless otherwise negotiated, the seller must be moved out by the closing. The Florida Association of Realtors contract says that the Seller will “have removed all personal items and trash from the Property and swept the Property clean…”
As the buyer (before I became a licensed Realtor), I had an issue at the final walk-through. The sellers had moved out of town, but their grown sons had stayed behind. The night before the closing, they had a pizza and beer party and the place was in a pretty good mess at the walkthrough. Had we not done a walk-through, imagine the disappointment when we opened the door on our brand new home to find empty beer bottles everywhere and old pizza stinking up the place.
So what happens if there is a problem? The contract has been signed. Not all the problems are covered under the contract. What if the carpet just has to be replaced that you, the Buyer, thought would work for the next year? What recourse does the buyer have?
We go back to negotiation. Plenty of negotiating goes on at the closing table – and unfortunately for the parties involved, many deals have fallen apart there. We do not want the deal to fall apart, but we also need to address the problems before we close. When the closing is over, so is the negotiation. It is too late then.
In our case, we negotiated for an extra $400 for cleaning services. We could have asked for more. We were expecting to move into a place that was not ready for moving into and while it didn’t affect us, it could have cost extra for the truck or storage or overnight hotel stays.
We presume that the seller wants to sell, just like we want to buy. Depending on what the buyer sees at his own final walk-through, he can ask to renegotiate for carpet, wall repair or a new refrigerator. However, it doesn’t mean he will get it. The buyer then has to weigh all his options and decide whether to move forward with the closing. By conducting a walk-through, the buyer stays in control of his purchase and has no regrets.