Buying a home is an exciting process. After all, you are getting ready to move to a new home. When the seller accepts your offer and your loan is approved, and you have conducted your inspections, the buying process is not over. You have one final step—the walk-through. This is when you verify that your new home is still as it was when you made the offer. You check to ensure that any repairs you may have requested were completed to your satisfaction.
Why It Matters
The final walk-through may seem like a formality but it is actually an important step in the buying process. “Problems arise when homes sit vacant for any period of time,” explains Elizabeth Weintraub, author of “The Short Sale Savior.” “For example, when termite companies test showers, they plug the shower drain with paper and let the water run. Guess what happens if the termite inspector forgets to remove all the paper over the drain and doesn’t completely turn off the shower handle?” A final walk-through helps to ensure that you don’t end up buying a home with a bathroom that is flooded. Also, keep in mind that conditions may have changed. A storm may have moved through the area, loosening shingles, or cold weather may have caused a pipe to burst.
What to Bring
When you go to your final walk-through, you will need to make sure you bring your inspection summary. This will make it easy for you to confirm the condition of the home and reference any terms to which you may have agreed upon. Moreover, if you requested a major change or repair, don’t be afraid to bring along a home inspector with you. In addition, pack a camera and a notebook so that you can document any outstanding issues. Finally, ask your real estate agent to be there so that he or she is available to answer any questions.
What to Check
You will conduct a visual assessment of the property; make sure that the previous owners have completely removed their personal property from the home. It is not unusual to find construction debris, left-over paint cans or even abandoned belongings. This is your opportunity to make sure than any items you do not want are discarded. Next, make sure everything is in working condition. Check any major appliances that were included with the home, such as a stove or dishwasher, and take time to verify that the light switches work. You should also flush toilets, run water, and look for leaks, and test the heating and air conditioning. If you requested any repairs or changes, you will want to take a look at these areas and confirm that they were made. You might also want to ask for the receipts from those repairs. This helps you know that the repairs were made and ensures that you have the contact information of the professionals in case issues arise later.
What to Expect
At the time of your final walk-through, the home should be vacant—and you should be prepared for some surprises. Whereas when you last saw the property it may have been staged to look its best, now the house should be empty and the the walls and floors are bare. The property could look completely different. This can also reveal some things you just might not have expected. For example, you could see the outline of where a rug or piece of furniture stood on the floor. There could also be stains on the floor, marks on the walls, damage from movers and so on. If the home is not yet vacant, request that the seller be present during the final walk-through to answer any questions about the property and confirm a forwarding address. You may also request a list of local servicemen who service the house so you can have uninterrupted service, for example: gardener and cable provider.
Final Walk-Through Tips
While your new home could be in perfect condition on the final walk-through, there is a good chance that it won’t be the case. With this in mind, make sure to allot more than 30 minutes to complete the walk-through process. It is time consuming to check everything, but you don’t want to miss anything. Should you discover any lingering issues, you can postpone the closing until repairs are made.
By Malka Abrahams
Malka is a realtor with Links Residential in Teaneck. She is a long-time resident of Bergen County, with extensive knowledge of the area. She is committed to educating her clients and guiding them through both the buying and selling process. Malka is a member of the National Association of Realtors, the Eastern Bergen County Board of Realtors and the New Jersey MLS. Contact Malka at 201-739-9654 and [email protected]