Being prepared for your final walk-through means that—when the big day comes—you’ll pay attention to all the right things.
You’ve finally made it. You’re near the end of the home building or buying process and all that’s left before you can officially close on your house is completing a final walk-through. Being prepared for your walk-through means that – when the big day comes – you’ll pay attention to all the right things.
The final walk-through is when the buyer and their real estate agent visit the home for the last time prior to closing to ensure that everything works and looks as it should. If the seller agreed to make repairs, this is the time to make sure they’re complete.
It’s also an opportunity to make sure that the seller hasn’t removed anything that they agreed would stay. This can include items such as appliances and fixtures that were included in the purchase agreement.
The buyer’s real estate agent should go room-by-room and point out any red flags or issues such as a leaking faucet, broken burner, or missing floorboard.
It’s a good idea to bring a copy of your purchase agreement to the final walk-through, along with a checklist of everything you need to look for to minimize the chance of forgetting anything. You should also bring your phone so you can photograph any problem areas, as well as your phone charger both to keep it charged and to test the electrical outlets. You should also bring a notepad to jot down any questions or concerns for the seller. Your real estate agent will be able to help you mark off your checklist and double-check the house for you.
The following items should each be included on your final walk-through checklist to ensure the home is in tip-top shape prior to closing:
Check that repairs have been made: Before the walk-through, make a list of all the repairs that were agreed upon in the purchase agreement. During the walk-through, inspect them one at a time to see if the repairs were completed.
Look for items that were included in the sale: Go through the home and find the items the seller agreed to include in the sale. This may include kitchen appliances, light fixtures, window coverings, and even furniture. Test appliances to make sure they’re still functioning; examine furniture and fixtures to see if any damage has been done. Similarly, make sure that nothing was left behind that shouldn’t have been.
Review the inside of the home:
Flush the toilets
Use the sinks; make sure both hot and cold water are functioning
Turn on the shower and bathtub and check the water pressure
Turn lights on and off
Turn A/C and heating systems on and off
Turn garbage disposal on and off
Open and close windows
Check window screens
Open and close doors
Inspect door locks
Check for water damage, mold, and pest infestation that may have occurred since the home inspection
Look at walls and floors
Make sure fixtures are in place
It’s also important to note whether the inside of the home is clean. If it’s dirty, the seller should clean it prior to closing. And if any of the seller’s belongings remain in the home during the walk-through, they must be removed prior to closing.
Look at gutters and roof
Note signs of new pest infestation
Look for signs of damage from pets
Make sure debris is removed from the yard
Inspect the porch and deck
Open and close garage doors
Make sure there is no damage to lawn or mailbox
If there is a pool and/or spa, make sure they are functioning and don’t need repairs. Plants, trees, and flowers on the property are included in the purchase of the home and should be in place and intact unless expressly stated otherwise in the purchase agreement.
If your final walk-through is taking place at a new-construction home, many of the same things apply. One major difference is that the buyer should make sure that everything was built and installed to their specifications.
Does the landscaping reflect the plants you chose? Is the exterior paint even and adhering well? Are the interior walls painted the right colors? Has the wood/tile flooring been leveled? Was the carpet installed properly? Are the kitchen countertops scratch-free?
If an issue arises during the final walk-through, the solution will depend on the severity of the problem. If it's an easy fix—a broken doorknob, a dripping faucet, etc.—closing likely won't need to be delayed.
However, if it's a larger issue, there are several options. First and foremost, ask your agent for help, as they're experienced in dealing with these types of situations and can work with the seller to ensure the issues are corrected.
You may need to delay closing to ensure the problem is fixed before signing all the final documents. Once the closing and funds transfer is complete, it will be much more difficult to get the seller to agree to fix anything. If the seller agrees to fix the issues but the work may take some time, the closing can still move ahead, with money held in escrow until the repairs are made.
If the seller does not agree to make repairs, consider renegotiating the offer or, in the worst-case scenario, walking away from the deal. You should be entitled to the "earnest money" you already contributed at the beginning of the process.
When dealing with a new-construction home, the first step remains the same: Talking to your real estate agent. They will contact the builder and work with them to figure out fixes for the itemized list of issues. If the issues are minor and easy to fix, closing does not need to be delayed. However, closing may need to be pushed back if there are major issues that need to be addressed. Either way, your agent can and should negotiate a sum to be held in escrow until the builder fixes everything.
With new construction, it’s a good idea to ask the builder to provide a home warranty, either at the beginning of construction or at this point. A home warranty offers the buyer protection against any issues that might arise with the home (appliances, construction, systems, etc.) within a certain amount of time after the sale is complete.
For example, Welcome Homes offers a total coverage warranty on every custom home: Six years for structural coverage; two years for utility of plumbing, electrical, heating, cool, and ventilation systems; and one year for materials and workmanship. Our total coverage warranty covers those events that exceed regular home maintenance to get your home in pristine condition faster and give you peace of mind.
Once the final walk-through is complete and everything is either fixed or has been agreed upon, it’s time to close, take official ownership of the property, and move into your new home.
More from Real Estate
Where does Westchester county rank among the best places to live in New York? Our Welcome Homes Value Score analysis looks at list prices, housing stock, location, and several other factors to create a single, easy-to-understand rating.
More from Home Buyers