When the home buying process is nearly complete, many buyers start relaxing and focusing on other details, such as purchasing new furniture and looking at paint samples.
But there is one more crucial step to take before closing on the house: a final walkthrough. This is the last chance before closing to make sure everything is in working condition.
A final walkthrough can not only help you feel more confident about your purchase and avoid buyer’s remorse, it can also pinpoint any last-minute problems that should be taken care of before settlement.
When to Schedule a Walkthrough
A house walkthrough should take roughly 30 minutes to complete, enough time for you to be extremely thorough. During this assessment, you should check for new issues that may have come up since the last time you viewed the home.
This is especially important if a major event, like a severe storm, occurred during that time period. Once you close on the home, previous owners are not obligated to fix new damages that may have occurred.
Be sure to schedule a timely walkthrough, about 24 hours before closing on a home, to address any potential problems.
What to Look For
At this time, you should check all major appliances to ensure they are in working condition. For example, consider turning on the dishwasher and washing machine, checking outlets and light switches and testing other basic operations. You might also request warranties and owners’ manuals for appliances.
Look to see whether any fixtures the seller agreed to leave behind (a chandelier, for instance) are missing. Check to make sure any previously agreed-upon repairs have been made. Then, look over the general condition of the property, inside and out: Are there damages like scratched walls or floors that occurred when the homeowner moved out? Did they leave unwanted furniture or other things behind? Is the yard and overall property in good shape (or, rather, the condition it was when you last saw the home)?
Many industry professionals recommend that buyers bring a home inspector with them to seek out any problems, and to confirm that repairs were made as requested and to their satisfaction. For this kind of service, home inspectors will typically charge much less than their original inspection costs.
Take Action Quickly
If you do identify problems, you have a few options. First, you may choose to walk away from the deal altogether. However, most professionals encourage buyers to consider how significant the problem is before walking away. Is avoiding a $500 fix worth losing your dream home?
In other cases, you may choose to postpone the closing until the sellers fix the problem. If sellers balk at having the problem fixed, and the repair was agreed upon during negotiations, you do have legal recourse — although it may be a good idea for the buyers and sellers to try to reach an amicable agreement to make the closing go more smoothly.
Take your time during a final walkthrough to ensure there are no surprises after the closing. Once this important last step is complete, take a deep breath, relax and smile: You are about to be the proud owner of a new home!
Guest blogger Lindsay Listanski is the social media manager for Coldwell Banker Real Estate , a leader in full service real estate sales.