Home Buyer Beware! Do a Final Walk-Through

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You’ve found your dream home. Your offer was accepted by the seller and all is well. You’ve had a home inspection, and you have a date set for the closing and transfer of ownership.

But wait! There is one more very important step for you to take before you purchase the home. It’s called a final walk-through, your last chance to double and triple check that everything is exactly how it was presented to you when you signed your offer to purchase.

A final walk-through should be scheduled as closely to the closing as possible, preferably 24 hours in advance. Many buyers are pressed for time and forgo the walk through, but this is not a good idea! Usually, sellers have already moved out and if a home is left vacant, problems can crop up.

Most of the time, final buyer inspections like these go just fine, but every now and then, a seller will remove fixtures without disclosing it, or replace newer appliances with older models, or leave large amounts of trash in or around the house. When they moved out, they may have scratched the walls or hardwood floors, which can be pretty expensive to fix. You may be presented with grass that hasn’t been cut for weeks or is literally dying from heat. Replacing sod is not the first thing you will want to face with homeownership.

The moral of all of these examples is to prevent them from happening in the first place. Completing a final walk-through should alleviate the worry. If you find anything amiss, put it in writing.
If you are buying a brand-new home, even though you have been intimately involved with the process, it is still a good idea to do a final walk-through. A builder may have done a final inspection with the city inspector, but that still doesn’t mean it’s without any flaws. Your builder should invite you to walk through the home. It’s commonplace to find at least ten things that need to be addressed.

A final walk-through is not an official home inspection. It is to make certain that your dream home is in the same condition you agreed to buy it when you last looked at it. If you have a real estate agent, lean on their expertise to guide you through it. Just be sure you do one. ■

Sources: realtor.com, zillow.com and trulia.com.


What exactly should you be checking on this final look-see?

• Check all ceilings, walls and floors for anything out of the ordinary. Make sure all light fixtures remain and check that the outlets are functional. An easy way to check outlets is to bring your cell phone charger with you and plug it in to every outlet.
• Make sure windows and doors open and close. Check the latches to be sure they lock. If window screens or storm windows have been stored, find out where they are. Test every key to every lock for the home and any outparcel buildings such as sheds or workshops. If there is an alarm, get the current code.
• Be sure all appliances are in working order, including the garbage disposal and exhaust fans. Check the air conditioning and heating system by turning it on and off. Ask for service records. Check for smoke alarms in the hallways and bedrooms.
• Turn on water faucets and check under sinks for possible leaks. Adequate water pressure is important. Run the showers to be sure there isn’t any blockage or a slow drain. Flush the toilets. Note where the shut-off valves for the main water supply are located, as well as other shut-off valves in the home.
• Look around all the storage areas to be sure no items remain that you don’t want, especially old paint cans and hazardous materials. Some states require a special disposal method for wall mounted air conditioners, for example. Go into the attic to be sure it is clear. Walk the grounds to be sure everything looks okay.
• Ring the doorbell. Operate the automatic garage door opener. Collect all remote controls, including ceiling fan remotes.
• Ask for instruction manuals for the air conditioner, heater and generally every appliance in the home: range, dishwasher, microwave, refrigerator, water heater, thermostat, etc. Some homeowners don’t keep these, but it’s a good idea to request them.
• Be sure to get the pest control company name and possibly transfer the contract to you. There may be a monthly service for pest control, as well as a termite bond on the home.
• Get a list of the various contractors who have performed work on the home, especially if the work was recent.
• Verify that agreed-upon repairs were performed.