A recent first-time homebuyer myself, allow me a quick ax-grinding before getting to the final walk-through checklist. This past winter, my wife and I negotiated an acceptable price and list of repairs for the house we wanted. Among other things, the list included repairs to the back gate of the fenced-in backyard and a deep cleaning of the inside of the house.
The fence was not fixed, although a new piece of wood was precariously nailed on (nailed!) to make it look like it was. To my chagrin, that was good enough to fool me during the “quick once-over” misleadingly referred to as the “final walk-through.” The inside of the house wasn’t cleaned either, which was not obvious to me at the time of the walk-through, partially due to the late hour and waning daylight. The utter lack of cleanliness was instantly apparent when we began the move-in process, as the home had obviously hosted small children and pets. I love children and pets, but I did not love the many, many boogers on the walls (boogers!).
Looking back, two key failings on my part stand out: (a) I went alone, and (b) I went at night. They got me. I went alone because my wife works into the evening most days, and I went at night, because going after work seemed like a good idea at the time. Rookie mistakes. To sum up my general advice, schedule your final walk-through at a time that will provide the necessary daylight needed for close inspections and at a time that works for your entire household (significant other, housemates, children, etc.). The more discerning eyes, the better. Maybe even bring a friend!
Whether you have adequate counsel for your real estate acquisition or not, remember that the ultimate goal for most people involved with the sale is completing the sale. It may very well be up to you to stick up for your own interests, even if it has been laid out in the contract.
Cautionary tale over. Ax, ground.
Here is a list of things to keep in mind for your final walk-through. Also, it is generally best to schedule this walk-through within 24 hours of closing, leaving as little time as possible for something to go wrong before you sign the papers. If you are expecting extensive work or repairs anywhere on the property, you may even consider scheduling two final walk-throughs: one about a week before closing, and one right before closing.
Main Things to Remember:
- Bring your home inspector’s report, a copy of your contract, and the seller’s disclosure report to assess any red-flagged items.
- Make sure seller has left all items that you wanted and they agreed to leave.
- Make sure seller has removed all items you didn’t want. You don’t want to be stuck removing a massive, outdated projection television set you have no use for.
Homebuyer’s Final Walk-through Checklist
(See our downloadable version below.)
- Make sure seller has left all items that they agreed to leave.
- Make sure seller has removed all items you didn’t want.
- Test all appliances, including ceiling fans.
Plumbing & Vents
- Test all faucets and drainage.
- Flush each toilet.
- Turn on the heat and air conditioning to ensure they work.
- Check every vent for airflow.
Other Indoor Checks
- Check for scratches or damages that may have occurred during move-out. Inspect every doorway, door, and hallways.
- Check the ceiling for water spots, discoloration, cracks, etc.
- Pay attention to baseboards and the floor, especially around toilets and bathtubs.
- Make sure all of the windows open, close, and lock properly.
- Open all drawers and cabinets. Give these hidden places the good old-fashioned smell test. Better to find problems now than after you move in.
- Open all closets. Make sure the doors and lights work. Smell-check.
- Test all light switches and electrical outlets.
- Do the outside door locks work?
- Open and close the garage door(s).
- Check that you have alarm access codes and garage door openers.
- Ensure you have a key to each door.
- Are the grounds clear of any items left by seller?
Download and print our Final Walk-through Checklist so you are more prepared than I was! Also, it’s not a bad idea to invite your inspector along for your final walk-through, especially if this is your first time buying a home. They will likely charge less for the second visit.
Do you have anything to add to our final walk-through checklist?