You’ve made it through the home inspection process, have your loan commit letter and approval in hand, placed your calls to the utility companies to transfer the accounts into your name, so, what’s left to do now before you close?
One of the most important steps – the “walk-through” – is the next to last thing to check off your “to-do” list before you head into your closing company or attorney’s office to sign your paperwork.
You may wonder when to schedule the walk-through and why it’s done.
At Solutions we tell our clients that a home should be in the same condition as when we wrote the offer. If a newly installed AC unit is missing and there is now a fan in the window, or if an ornate dining room chandelier is no longer there or has been replaced by a cheaper version, we have a problem…
A walk-through is typically scheduled on the day before or sometimes the day of your settlement. Just like it sounds, a “walk-through” takes place when you and your Solutions agent explore your home-to-be and check to make sure it’s in the condition specified in your contract.
Unless a Purchaser makes a request of the Seller to take measurements for carpeting or furniture placement, the walk-through is usually the first time you’ve been back in the property for a few weeks and the first time you’ve seen it without the Sellers’ possessions in place — unless you bought a vacant home.
As a Purchaser you are probably getting really excited about your new home, but no matter how eager you are to move in, you should take your time on the walk-through and carefully check on every room.
When to Schedule
A walk-through should take place within 24 hours of settlement so that you see the property at the last possible moment. You don’t want to do the final check too soon and then discover, for example, damage from a storm that hit the day before your settlement or, if the Seller is in the process of moving out, any damage caused by either a moving company or over-eager friends and family trying to “help”.
Once you sign the settlement documents any damage becomes your responsibility, even if it occurred before you officially owned the property.
If your contract states that the Sellers are to make repairs, it’s best to schedule two walk-throughs. The first one should take place a week or so before your settlement date so that you can review requested repairs.
If you’re not satisfied or the Sellers haven’t provided requested receipts and contact information for the contractors, this will give you time to negotiate a solution to the problem so that your settlement won’t be delayed. You should still have your final walk-through just before the closing.
What to Expect
Some Purchasers are disappointed when they see the condition of the property after the Sellers have vacated. Most contracts state that the property needs to be “broom clean.” Many people have different standards for cleanliness and broom clean means just that—swept up but not necessarily deep-cleaned. Please see our recent Solutions blog post about the definition of “broom-clean.”
Regardless of the cleanliness of the home, there are certain steps to take during the walk-through:
- Bring your home inspection report, a copy of your contract and the amendment stating items that were agreed to by both parties to be repaired and/or replaced so you can check on specific flagged items.
- Check for items that the Sellers agreed in the contract to convey to the buyer, such as window treatments, kitchen appliances (including washers and dryers), ceiling fans, light fixtures or fireplace tools. Remember that these items have to be identified in writing, not just in an oral agreement.
- Check for items the Sellers left behind that you don’t want. If the sellers don’t want their bedroom bookcases, that doesn’t mean you have to keep them. Check your contract to see if the shelves were mentioned. If not, it’s the Sellers’ responsibility to remove them.
- Test all the appliances to make sure they still work.
- Turn on the heating and air conditioning for a few minutes to see if they are operable. Turn on the taps in the kitchen and baths and flush the toilets – look for any leaks not found in the inspection report.
- Bring an inexpensive electrical tester from a hardware store to make sure all the outlets work. If you have requested that knob and tube wiring be replaced ask your inspector to make sure this has been done. He/she can pull out wall sconces or outlets to check.
What to Do If You Find a Problem
If you find that the Sellers haven’t followed through on the contract promises, or you find a new issue that you want them to address, consider whether the problem is worth disrupting your settlement.
For instance, if there’s a light bulb that’s burned out in a bathroom, you can easily take care of that yourself. Even something a little more costly may be something you should think about handling on your own in the interest of settling on time.
If you’re uncertain of the extent of a problem, however, such as a newly discovered leak under the kitchen sink that the Sellers hid during your home inspection, you and your Solutions agent should contact the Sellers’ agent and negotiate a solution to the problem.
If you find the Sellers are unwilling to pay for a plumber, think about the cost to you in delaying your closing or in legal fees. Your Solutions agent can help you determine which issues are worth pursuing and which you can resolve on your own.