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 final walk-through 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 there may appear to be a lot of things to check, you'll be glad you took the time to do it right. Things can and do go wrong during the move-out process, while the house is vacant, or because the homeowner or tradesperson did not perform a repair correctly.
When should the final walk-through take place?
The final walk-through should take place as close to the closing date as possible. The seller's belongings should be fully removed, allowing you to get a better look at the house while it's empty, particularly for any faults that furniture or appliances may have hidden. If you can't do your walk-through on the day of closing, schedule it for no more than 2-3 days before.
The last thing you want to do is move into your new home only to discover that an issue has arisen after your previous visit as a prospective buyer, which could have been weeks ago.
Who should be present during the final walk-through?
Only the buyer and his or her real estate agent are required to attend the final walk-through. Unless the buyer specifically requests it, the seller should not be present, in which case their real estate agent should also be present.
The buyer can also choose whether or not they want the home inspector or any of the specialists who performed the repairs to be present. As the buyer, you may incur an additional charge from the inspector, but the cost will be justified if you're double-checking to guarantee work was done correctly.
How long does a final walk-through take?
The length of time it takes to do the walk-through is determined by the size of the home and how thorough you are in your inspection. Checking all of the rooms, closets, and cabinets in a 1,200 square-foot house might take as little as 20 minutes. This process could take an hour or two in a larger home.
Allow enough time to inspect all of the house's systems, storage facilities, interior rooms, and outdoor features such as sprinkler systems, power awnings, and so on. There's no need to rush; you want to make sure there are no surprises when you move in, such as a toilet that won't flush or an appliance that's gone missing.
What should a buyer bring to the final walk-through?
As a buyer, you should bring:
✓Your original final offer, showing what both parties agreed to in the sale terms
✓The inspection report – in particular, the summary of necessary repairs
✓Any written agreements between buyer and seller about the repairs
✓A notebook to take notes
✓A phone that takes pictures or a camera to document any new damage or concerns
✓A small plug-in item like a clock, phone charger, or nightlight to check the outlets, or, even better, a portable receptacle tester, as these will also show you the levels of power flow from outlets, whether they are grounded and more.
✓And, of course, this final walk-through checklist of all of the items that should be looked over during this time
During the final walk-through, you want to ensure that all parties have satisfied the terms of their agreements, and you’re not walking into a repair nightmare now that the home is yours.
What should a buyer look for during a final walk-through?
The most important thing to remember about your walk-through is that it is not a home inspection. This isn't the time to bring up items that you or your inspector missed the first or second time through. This is a quick check to make sure the house is in the same condition as when you made the offer.
Determine before the final walk-through:
✓ Are the agreed-upon repairs complete and to your satisfaction?
✓ Are the agreed-upon repairs complete and to your satisfaction?
✓ Is anything missing from the home that should have been left, such as appliances, window treatments, or even the built-in bookcase?
✓ Have items like garbage, old paint, or anything else been left behind by the seller?
Home exterior: final walk-through checklist
✓ Do the gutters and roof look sound and intact from the ground level?
✓ Did the seller leave behind trash or other items – like yard chemicals or old paint?
✓Are there any signs of pests— like decayed wood from termites or rodent droppings?
✓Do the garage doors open correctly? You might receive the remote at the closing, so don’t be alarmed if it’s not at the house. You can always use the garage button inside the garage to run the doors.
✓Does the doorbell work and is the mailbox in good shape?
Home interior: final walk-through checklist
✓Make sure the water, electricity, and gas are all on. Run major appliances like the washing machine, clothes dryer, dishwasher, stovetop, and oven – and check to be sure the refrigerator and freezer are running.
✓Run the heating and cooling (HVAC) system regardless of the temperature outside.
✓Run the garbage disposal.
✓Check and run any fans above the stove or in bathrooms.
✓Check all the faucets in the home by running both hot and cold water. Ensure that sinks drain properly, and pipes and faucets don’t leak.
✓Flush all the toilets and check for leaks to ensure they work and fill correctly.
✓Run water in all the showers and bathtubs.
✓Test the ceiling fans and light switches in every room.
✓Test any outlets that were repaired to make sure they work.
✓Look for any new evidence of mold, especially in the corners of rooms and places previously covered by furniture.
✓Open and close all the doors and windows. Make sure they lock correctly. Are there any missing window screens or sticky doors?
✓Look at all the ceilings, walls, crown molding, floors, and baseboards. Did the seller make all agreed-to caulking and paint repairs? Any signs of new damage after the seller moved out?
✓Are all the fixtures intact? Fixtures are items like doorknobs, blinds, lighting, ceiling fans, and built-ins. These items shouldn’t be removed unless their removal was specified in your final contract. And they are considered different from personal property like table lamps that can be easily moved from room to room.
If everything on this list checks out – congratulations, your home is move-in ready.
What part does the seller play in the final walk-through?
The seller is required to leave the house in “broom swept” condition, which means they vacuumed, wiped down the kitchen and bathroom surfaces, and swept the floor.
They must also return anything they agreed to in the sales contract. They can't determine whether or not they want to take the window treatments with them when they move. It's also not appropriate for sellers to leave behind items they don't want or need, such as old clothes, tools and other equipment, or just garbage.
The seller should fix any damage that occurred when removing pictures, televisions, or anything else that was hung or installed. Sellers should also double-check the agreed-upon offer to ensure that they corrected everything on their list and left all of the goods they committed to leave behind.
Mistakes and inadequate repairs sometimes happen, especially in the midst of a move. This is why completing a final walk-through is crucial.
What happens if there is a problem?
The key to resolving most walk-through issues is open communication. Talk to your real estate agent first, and he or she will speak with the seller's agent and explain the situation. Allow the real estate agents on both sides to serve in their designated roles, and you'll most likely reach an amiable agreement.
Problems arising during the final walk-through are unusual, but they do occur. If you come across a problem that you can't solve right away, there are three options:
You can postpone closing until the repairs are completed or new repairs are made.
In some circumstances, it may be more cost-effective to negotiate fair compensation and handle the repairs yourself.
The least appealing option is to back out of the agreement, which no one wants to do. Because both you and the seller have a vested interest in the transaction finishing smoothly, walk-through difficulties are usually resolved quickly.
The last walk-through may cause some nervousness on your part (and on the seller's), but it usually goes rather smoothly. You've almost reached the end of your home-buying adventure, and you've earned the right to be ecstatic. You can now see the house as a blank canvas and imagine yourself living there, personalizing it, and turning it into your next home.