Is a Final Walk Through Necessary?
You found your home and arrived at an agreeable price. You had an inspector verify that everything is in good working order. The sellers did the repairs that the inspector suggested. The loan is "clear to close". You're scheduled to go sign the final papers.
Do you really have to take time to do a final walk thru? In a word - YES!
The final walk through is your last chance to make sure everything has been left as agreed. And it is just that, a walk through. It is not a completely new inspection. It isn't the time to start nit-picking that the sellers should replace the stained carpet. You should negotiate repairs for anything obvious when making your offer. If the inspection reveals problems, you should ask for repairs at the time of the inspection.
The walk through only entitles you to ask for repairs if damage occurs after the inspection. Things can happen when folks are moving big pieces of furniture. Check to see that nothing was broken or damaged by the movers. Vacant homes are sometimes vandalized or damaged between the inspection and closing day. You should never skip the final walk through on a home that has been left vacant.
Reasons For the Final Walk Through
One important reason for the final walk through is to verify that all the agreed upon appliances and fixtures stayed. Several years ago, my partner went to a final walk thru that didn't go so well. He and his buyers discovered that the barely used, stainless steel appliances were gone. The appliances were now white and definitely used. There was no mistaking that a switch had occurred. The listing agent hadn't included photos of the kitchen in the MLS. Luckily, my partner had taken photos on his cell phone. We had proof.
Sometimes you just have to wonder, "what were they thinking?" They had to delay Close of Escrow so the sellers could hire someone to return the stainless appliances. The sellers paid to get them properly hooked up. The buyers had to return for the "second" final walk thru. Sellers had to pay for all of it. Then they had to wait for their money until the buyers were happy.
The final walk through is another good reason for sellers to move out in a timely manner. We closed on a high rise condo where the sellers refused to move out until the morning of the day we were scheduled to close. My buyers refused to sign the final papers before doing the walk through. This was especially important since they were purchasing many of the furnishings.
The negotiations had taken a bit of an unpleasant turn as the seller dug in her heels on the price. We did half a dozen counter offers on that one. Each time we got the seller to a more realistic price, she deleted an item from the separate agreement for furnishings. It had left the buyers with a feeling that they shouldn't trust the seller to leave everything.
As it turned out, the agreed upon furnishings were there. Everything was in good shape. The seller's decision to wait until the last minute to vacate added one more day before we could close. The seller was a bit miffed about the delay in closing, but it was her own decision. Buyers are entitled to a final walk through before closing. Who knows? Had they trusted her, maybe we would have gone in to discover something they bought was missing. Better safe than sorry...
Those stories are extreme examples of what can happen at the Final Walk Through. We've been to walk throughs where the sellers took the new owners on a tour and showed them all the home's controls. Sometimes the sellers have left a house-warming gift for the new owners. More than ninety-five per cent of our final walk throughs are pleasant or at least uneventful. But the one time you don't do it is the one time you could regret it.
Final Walk Through Tips
When you do the walk through, your agent will usually have a checklist. You'll sign off after you've verified everything is in proper shape. We like to start in the kitchen so we can have the dishwashers go through a cycle while we're checking everything else. Go through each room. Turn on all the lights. Run hot and cold water through the faucets. Flush the toilets. Check the electrical outlets. In general, check to see that everything is the way it was when you decided to buy the home.
For new construction homes, the builders will usually have their own forms for the final walk through. They will have their people take you through each room. Many will put pieces of tape to point out spots where paint needs to be re-touched. They'll make a punch list of all the items that need to be fixed before you get your keys. A final walk through is always recommended on a new construction home.
It's best to do the inspection a day or so before closing just in case you do need to ask for repairs. One of the more common things we have encountered is when a seller gets rushed and doesn't quite get everything out. Letting them leave a chair in the garage for a day may not be a problem. Finding that they've left the garage half full of garbage is not acceptable. They should leave the home tidy, free of garbage and ready for you to move in.
Can't Do the Walk Through Yourself? Hire a Pro!
There are times when buyers are out of State and cannot be here to do the final walk through. The inspectors we work with have always been good about coming back for a nominal fee to do the walk through when buyers can't. If you really don't want to bother with the final walk through, NV State Law does allow you to waive it. We would never recommend skipping such an important step in purchasing your home.
Wow! I can't believe some of those walk through fiascoes. Did the sellers really think that nobody would notice or care about the switched appliances?!
How do you do a final walk through if you have agreed to possession, for example... 30 days after closing? This is a very common practice to agree that the sellers do not have to vacate immediately after closing.
Chris Severns, that was pretty hard for us to believe too. I think the sellers thought that since they didn't have photos of the appliances in the MLS it would be our word against theirs. Lucky my partner had taken photos and could prove the switch.
Sandra Mc, we seldom have buyers taking possession 30 days after closing. On those occasions when the sellers have stayed on, we do it as a formal leaseback. Even if the sellers don't pay rent for the month, we insist on a security deposit being withheld in the escrow account until the final walk through. And with a leaseback, we specify that the sellers have to maintain the utilities, insurance, etc., until they do vacate.
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