So you’re under contract to buy a home. You’ve completed the inspection, passed the appraisal and your lender has given you the green light to close.
All the stress and uncertainty of buying a home is about to pay off. It’s the day before closing and there is one last thing you need to do before you sign a million documents at the closing table – A final walk through.
The purpose of the final walk through is for you to make sure everything is in working order per the contract you signed. The home needs to be in the same condition as it was when you went under contract and also clean and clear of debris. This is also a chance to see first hand if any requested repairs have been completed although this should have been verified by your agent before the closing date.
You should come armed with the inspection report to verify which requested repairs have been completed and which items are coming with the house “as-is”.
There are a few different factors that you need to be aware of to make sure the final walk through goes as smoothly as possible. This article will cover everything you need to know in order for you to properly do a final walk through.
Let’s start with what you need to do to prepare in advance.
The week of closing
You more than likely will not be in contact with the listing agent but the agent representing you will. Your agent needs to make sure that all systems will be ready to inspect on the day of closing.
This means that the electricity and water will both need to be turned on. Usually this is understood by the listing agent but sometimes there is a lack of communication so make sure your agent is pro-actively contacting them to ensure all systems are a go.
Your agent should be taking care of this days before closing.
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The Walk Through
So neither you or your agent are a home inspector but right now you’ll have to put on your inspector hat and go down the checklist to make sure everything is in working order.
You and your agent’s job is to note anything that is not satisfactory per the contract and get the issues resolved before closing. There are multiple ways to do this that I will explain at the end of the article.
You will want to do this inspection right before closing to ensure that nothing has gone wrong even the day before. According to Murphy’s law if anything can go wrong it will so be sure to protect yourself by doing the walk through the day of closing rather than the day before.
The best way to be a thorough inspector is to work through one area/system at a time. Let’s start with something that requires time to warm up – the HVAC system.
HVAC stands for Heating, Ventilation & Air Conditioning. These systems sometimes take a few minutes to get started up and running properly. During a final walk through start by cranking the AC all the way down, give it a few minutes and make sure it’s blowing cold.
When that’s confirmed, turn up the heat on and do the same. In Florida, the heating systems are typically not used very often so you may actually get a burning smell coming out of the vents. This is typically just built up dust burning off and creating an odor.
This is normal. While these systems are spooling up you can start on another part of the house. How about the lighting?
This is your chance to figure out how all the light switches work. Feel free to go wild and flip all the switches. Regular lights, dimmer lights, outdoor lights, the world is yours.
While you’re in the kitchen you might even scare yourself by accidentally hitting the garbage disposal switch. That is great, now you know that works. Might as well check out the rest of the kitchen while you’re in there.
When you arrive in the kitchen you’ll want to make sure everything included in the contract is there and all appliances work. Start by turning on all 4 burners on the stove and also crank up the oven.
While that’s heating up be sure to check the refrigerator and freezer to make sure they’re properly cooled. You may need to adjust the cooling temperature on the little knobs inside of the fridge/freezer.
Turn on the faucet and make sure the water pressure is adequate. This is also a chance for you to check the hot water heater – Crank on the hot water in the kitchen and make sure it’s heating up properly.
While the water is running, take a look underneath the sink and make sure there are no active leaks. Turn on any other appliances such as the dishwasher or microwave to verify that they are in working order.
Be sure to check all the cabinets to make sure they open and shut properly. Pull out all drawers and make sure the seller did not leave any trash behind. Turn on all lights in the kitchen.
When you’re done in the kitchen, make sure to turn off any appliances you turned on and leave it the way you found it. While we’re checking big important appliances, let’s move on to the washer & dryer.
Washer & Dryer
The first thing you need to do is verify that the washer & dryer are actually there if it was written into the contract. Unlike kitchen appliances that are automatically included in the verbiage of the contract, the washer and the dryer need to be physically written in by your agent.
If they forget to write it in they might be making a trip to Sears to get you a nice new set.
If they are there, operate them as usual. Turn the washer & dryer on and let them run for a few minutes. Open the washer right after you start it and make sure there is water flowing. Speaking of water flowing, does your new home have a pool?
You will probably be able to tell if the pool is in good condition just by looking at it. If the water is clear and you can see that the pool pump is running you should be good to go. If the water is green or otherwise discolored, you may have a reason to be concerned. This usually means that the pool pump hasn’t been running or that the owner hasn’t maintained the pool with the proper chemicals.
Be sure to turn on the pool pump if it’s not running. Pool pumps are expensive and are many times an overlooked item during the final walk through. Does the property have a hot tub? The Same concepts apply.
Make sure to turn it on and make sure the jets are working and the water is clear. If you didn’t notice the condition of the lawn as you entered the house, now is your chance to check it out.
Has the lawn been properly maintained or did they allow it to become overgrown? The lawn & landscaping must be in the same condition as it was when the home went under contract.
Let’s assume that everything has gone well so far and you can even smell the fresh cut grass while standing in your new lawn. Time to take a walk around the exterior and check out a few things.
Were any repairs on the exterior agreed upon? Possibly some wood replacement such as siding, soffit or fascia? Did you request the crawl space and ventilation holes to be covered with screens in order to prevent rodents?
Does the hose and outdoor shower work properly? Was any painting agreed upon? Was there any work done to the roof that needs to be observed? If there was any big projects completed like the roof, your agent should have verified previously that the work was permitted and completed by a licensed contractor.
This final walk through should just be a time to confirm visually that the work has been completed. All done? Alright let’s go back inside and check a few more things.
There are a few things you will need to check in the bathrooms. First of all let’s make sure the toilets are flushing properly. Open the lid and give it a flush.
Maybe you even want to give your toilet a proper christening a few hours before you actually own the house. Please make sure the toilet is capable of flushing before you do that.
A few more things while you’re in the bathroom – Turn on the shower and make sure the water pressure is strong. Also turn on the sink and check under for any active leaks. If the bathroom has a ventilation system, turn that on as well.
Windows & Doors
Are the windows operable and/or in the same condition as when the home went under contract? Do they have the necessary screens installed? Do the doors close and lock properly?
Extra items written into the contract
Was there any extra items that were written into the contract or included in a separate bill of sale? Things like patio sets, pool equipment and other furniture are sometimes conveyed with the property. If it’s in the contract, make sure it’s there.
Finalizing the final walk through
Are you lucky enough to have everything in working order? Perfect, let’s jump in the car and get to your closing. Did an issue come up? Let’s get it resolved with negotiations.
There are a few ways to resolve issues that may come up during the final walk through. The most common and easiest way to handle this situation is to ask for a seller credit at the closing table. Let’s say you’re buying a home with an older stove in it. During the final walk through you realize that the stove has stopped working in the time between the contract date and the closing.
You would expect the seller to replace it with a stove of similar quality. Some quick research shows you that a similar used stove would cost about $350. You and the seller agree on the $350 credit at closing and you use that money to put towards a new stove.
In some instances you will need to agree on a repair after the closing date. Last week we had a closing in which the exact scenario previously described happened. The stove and oven were not operational during the final walk through.
This particular property was a condo unit overseen by a property management company, so instead of giving us a credit they offered to send one of their maintenance guys to fix it. We had the title company withhold $350 from the seller until the repairs were completed.
In the worst case scenario, your closing may have to be delayed. Let’s say we find out last minute that the AC has broken in the middle of the summer. You may have to put off closing until the property is habitable.
In my experience, 99% of the time any issues that come up during the final walk through are able to be taken care of before closing. The final walk through is in place to look out for your best interests as a buyer.
Ready to get yourself a home under contract? Check out our Search Tool or if you’re not too familiar with the area check out some of our helpful articles The Top 5 Nicest Neighborhoods in St Pete, The Top 5 Up & Coming Areas To See Appreciation In St Pete and The Top 6 Things Your Realtor Should Know When Buying In Pinellas County.
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Chris and his business partner Ryan are Real Estate agents on a mission – Their goal is to help improve the local community by connecting people and giving back.
Chris loves finding out about the newest ventures happening in St Pete and the people running them. As fate would have it, Chris & Ryan are like minded aspiring entrepreneurs looking to connect people in a way never seen before and one day take over the world.
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