One of the most exciting days during the home buying process is when you have your walk-through, usually scheduled on the day before your settlement. Just like it sounds, a “walk-through” takes place when you and your buyers’ agent explore your home-to-be and check to make sure it’s in the condition specified in your contract.
Chances are, this is the first time you’ve been back in the property for a few weeks and the first time you’ve seen it without the sellers’ possessions in place—unless you bought a vacant home. Hopefully, you’ll still feel enthusiastic about your new home, but no matter how exhilarated you are and eager to move in, you should take your time on the walk-through and carefully check on every room.
When to schedule your walk-through
Typically, your walk-through should take place within 24 hours of your closing so that you see the property at the last possible moment. You don’t want to do the final check too soon and then discover damage from a storm that hit the day before your settlement. Once you sign the settlement documents any damage becomes your responsibility, even if it occurred before you officially owned the property.
If your contract states that the sellers are to make repairs, it’s best to schedule two walk-throughs. The first one should take place a week or so before your settlement date so that you can review requested repairs. If you are not satisfied or the sellers have not provided requested receipts and contact information for the contractors, this will give you time to negotiate a solution to the problem so that your settlement won’t be delayed. You should still have your final walk-through just before the closing.
What to expect on your walk-through
Some buyers are disappointed when they see the condition of the property after the sellers have vacated the home. Most contracts state that the property needs to be “broom clean.” Many people have different standards for cleanliness and broom clean means just that—swept up but not necessarily deep-cleaned.
Regardless of the cleanliness of the home, there are certain steps to take during the walk-through:
- Bring your home inspection report, a copy of your contract and the sellers’ property condition disclosure form so you can check on specific flagged items.
- Check for items that the sellers agreed in the contract to convey to the buyer, such as window treatments or fireplace tools. Remember that these items have to be identified in writing, not just in an oral agreement.
- Check for items the sellers left behind that you don’t want. If the sellers don’t want their basement bookcases, that doesn’t mean you have to keep them. Check your contract to see if the shelves were mentioned. If not, it’s the sellers’ responsibility to remove them.
- Test all the appliances to make sure they still work.
- Turn on the heating and air conditioning for a few minutes to see if they are operable.
- Bring an inexpensive electrical tester from a hardware store to make sure all the outlets work.
What to do if you find a problem
If you find that the sellers have not followed through on the contract promises, or you find a new issue that you want them to address, consider whether the problem is worth disrupting your settlement. For instance, if there’s a light bulb that’s burned out in the refrigerator, you can easily take care of that yourself. Even something a little more costly may be something you should think about handling on your own in the interest of settling on time.
However, if you’re uncertain of the extent of a problem, such as a newly discovered leak under the bathroom sink that the sellers hid during your home inspection, you and your buyers’ agent should contact the sellers’ agent and negotiate a solution to the problem. If you find the sellers are unwilling to pay for a plumber, think about the cost to you in delaying your closing or in legal fees. Your Realtor® can help you determine which issues are worth pursuing and which you can resolve on your own.
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