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The final walk-through is one of the last but most important steps to take when purchasing a new home. Picking paint colors may be more exciting, and booking professional movers may seem more urgent—but the final walk-through could determine whether your move will be a success or a regret. Whether you are a seasoned homeowner or a first-time homebuyer, our comprehensive final walk-through checklist will help you ensure a seamless transition to your new home.
What Is a Final Walk-Through?
The final walk-through is an opportunity for the buyer to inspect the home one last time before closing. It often takes place just a few hours before closing—especially if the buyer is planning an interstate move. During the final walk-through, the homebuyer should verify that everything is in good working order and no new damage has occurred since the initial home inspection. By this point, any agreed-upon repairs should be complete, and the property should be vacant.
Benefits of a Final Walk-Through Checklist
Having a final walk-through checklist on hand will help ensure that no detail goes unnoticed during your inspection. No matter how sharp your memory or how keen your observation skills are, it’s easy to miss something you aren’t looking for.
A final walk-through checklist provides clarity and peace of mind. With it, you will be better equipped to identify and address issues promptly. You can use the checklist to document potential problems and communicate them to the current homeowner. This, in turn, will ensure everyone is on the same page.
Items to Include in a Final Walk-Through Checklist
Your final walk-through checklist should cover every aspect of the home and purchase agreement. Here’s an overview of what to include:
- Agreed-upon repairs: Note any repairs or modifications that the seller agreed to complete. This includes issues flagged during the initial home inspection or changes negotiated through your real estate agent.
- Appliances: Check that the oven heats up and the fridge is cold. Run a test cycle on the dishwasher, washer, and dryer. Test the garbage disposal, microwave, exhaust fans, and any other appliances that come with the house.
- Doors and windows: Double-check all of the doors and windows to ensure that they open and close properly, including the garage door. Test any locks or latches and examine the window screens for damage.
- Exterior and outdoors: Examine the exterior of the house, including crawl spaces, gutters, and sprinklers. Make sure the landscaping has not changed and no unwanted tools or toys have been left behind.
- Floors and walls: Now that the home is empty, check the floors and walls for damage that might have been hidden by furniture or caused by the movers. Check closets and other areas that were previously obscured.
- Items left behind: By this point, the current owner should have the house fully ready to sell. Make sure that any items listed in the acceptance letter, such as appliances, have been left behind. Otherwise, the home should be clean and free of the seller’s personal belongings.
- Outlets and light fixtures: Test all of the light switches and ceiling fans. Examine the plate covers, and bring along a phone charger to test electrical outlets.
- Pests and mold: Be on the lookout for signs of pests or water damage. Examples include mold, mildew, rodent droppings, and the pinholes left by termites.
- Plumbing and HVAC system: Adjust the thermostat settings to test both the air conditioning and heating system. Check the water pressure, and run hot water to ensure the water heater works. Check every faucet, showerhead, and toilet in the house for leaks or drainage issues.
Tips for a Successful Final Walk-Through
The most important tip for a successful final walk-through is to bring your checklist along. You should also follow these tips:
- Review documentation. Familiarize yourself with any paperwork or reports related to the sale, such as the inspection report, purchase agreements, and warranties.
- Bring a professional. Have your realtor, home inspector, or another trusted professional accompany you to the walk-through.
- Take your time. Block off enough time to thoroughly inspect the entire house so that you do not feel rushed or tempted to cut corners.
- Record any issues. Be prepared to take notes and photos of any problems you uncover.
- Address issues quickly. If you uncover any issues during the walk-through, work with your real estate agent and the sellers to resolve them promptly.
Pitfalls to Avoid During a Final Walk-Through
Here are some potential pitfalls to avoid during the final walk-through:
- Leaving things behind: Before heading over for the final walk-through, make sure you have everything you need. This includes your checklist as well as tools to take notes, photograph issues, and test outlets.
- Rushing through the process: Don’t let time constraints or excitement outweigh the importance of a thorough inspection. Remember, this is your last chance to flag issues and negotiate a resolution before closing.
- Not taking pictures: Taking detailed notes is important, but you should also take a photo or video of any problems. Meticulous documentation will make it easier to communicate your concerns and resolve any disputes.
- Making assumptions: Don’t assume that everything is in good shape and all repairs have been completed. Instead, take the time to double-check.
- Failing to negotiate: If you have already scheduled long-distance movers or booked a moving truck, it may be tempting to overlook any issues to stay on schedule. However, it’s important to communicate with your real estate agent before making any decisions. You may be able to negotiate compensation rather than delay closing.
With a comprehensive final walk-through checklist, you can confidently assess the condition of the property and address any issues before moving into your new home. Make sure your checklist covers the categories and items mentioned in this article, and follow our tips to avoid common pitfalls and buyer’s remorse. Above all else, remember to come prepared and avoid rushing through this important step in the home-buying process.
Final Walk-Through FAQ
What should I look for in the final walk-through of a new construction home?
In the final walk-through of a new construction home, you should assess the overall quality of the construction and ensure that everything is in working order. Potential red flags include uneven floors, foundation cracks, broken appliances, faulty wiring, mold growth, pest damage, chipped paint, carpet stains, and doors or windows that are difficult to open and close.
What is the difference between the inspection and the final walk-through?
There are several differences between a home inspection and a final walk-through. The goal of a home inspection is completed by a professional to identify serious issues that would dissuade the buyer from purchasing the home as-is. The final walk-through is conducted later, just before closing, by the buyer and their real estate agent to make sure that the seller has met all terms of the purchase agreement.
Is the final walk-through a contingency?
Although the final walk-through is not technically considered a contingency, it does give the buyer a final opportunity to renegotiate the sale. If the buyer discovers significant issues that were left undisclosed or unresolved by the seller, they might ask for compensation or delay the sale until the issues are addressed. They could even back out of the deal altogether—though doing so may require them to forfeit their deposit or earnest money.
Is a final walk-through required by law?
No, a final walk-through is not required by law. However, it is an important step that protects both the buyer and the seller. The buyer receives assurance that the home is in the condition agreed upon, and the seller protects themselves from liability.