As closing day approached, Ben and Charlene had a long checklist of things that needed to get done: arrange the moving truck, call the utility companies to have the service put in their names, make sure Mom picks up the kids from school – just so much to do. They asked me, “With all we’ve got going on the next couple of days, are you sure we really need to do a final walk through?”
Absolutely – Yes.
The final walk through inspection of the home, which typically takes place here in the Louisville, Kentucky area approximately 24 to 48 hours prior to closing, is the final and very important step of the home buying process. The purpose of the walk through inspection of the home is to ensure that the home is in the same or better condition as the day you signed the sales contract.
Even if you signed on the bottom line last week and you are closing this week, a lot can happen to the home you are buying in that amount of time: In my almost three decades of selling homes, here are a few real-life examples my clients have experienced at the final walk through:
- The Sellers’ moving company knocked a hole in the wall while moving the refrigerator out, and scarred the beautiful Brazilian cherry hardwood floors they had fallen in love with after dropping the sofa.
- With the furniture gone, my clients found a large Kool-Aid stain on their carpeting that had been covered by a bedroom dresser.
- A contractually agreed to repair had not been done as promised to be completed prior to the final walk through.
- Even worse than a repair that wasn’t completed is the repair the Seller tried to do himself, that was done in a shoddy manner.
- Appliances that the Seller agreed to leave had been taken.
- Debris and personal items had been left behind.
- The basement that the Seller said never leaked looked like a built-in swimming pool when we walked downstairs.
Even though the above issues that were found at final walk-throughs are rare – they can and do happen. So why take a chance? I recommend doing the walk through 48 hours prior to closing whenever possible, so that if issues are found, they can be addressed.
What Are Your Rights If Things Go Very Wrong?
In our area, Buyers do reserve the right to walk away if the Seller is unable or unwilling to make whatever repairs are necessary to ensure the Buyers won’t void the contract. In most cases, Sellers will either make the repairs, or if acceptable to the lender, will offer a credit to the Buyers. This can get tricky, too, however, because the lender may not allow the Sellers to offer a credit in lieu of repair or replacement. Especially in the case of the swimming pool in the basement, for instance, the lender may not allow the closing to take place until the basement has been professionally repaired.
What Happens If The Seller Is Still In The Home After Closing?
The Greater Louisville Association of Realtors purchase contract we use states that the Buyers “shall have the right to perform a ‘walk through’ inspection prior to closing and again prior to delivery o possession to verify condition. This paragraph shall survive the closing.”
In most instances, possession is delivered to the Buyers on the day of closing. But in some cases it just is not possible for the Sellers to delivery possession at closing. Sometimes this can be as important to the Sellers as getting the best possible price for the home. In this instance, it will be important to perform two walk through inspections. The first walk through is to ensure that the agreed upon home repairs have been completed and that they have been done to the Buyers’ satisfaction.
Since the Sellers and all of their belongings are still there, it will be important to perform the second walk through to make sure no damage was done at move out.
Make Sure Your Realtor Uses A Checklist
Your Realtor should use a checklist as a guide to make sure nothing is missed. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of the upcoming closing and forget to check everything.
Two things to remember: Always hire a professional home inspector – and always do a final walk through inspection. You will be so glad you did.
I would love to hear your comments. Can you share your own personal experience regarding your final walk through when you purchased a home?