For homebuyers and sellers alike, the final walk-through can be one of the most significant steps in the real estate process. It may also be one of the most nerve-wracking.
The final walk-through typically takes place mere hours before the closing itself. It’s one last opportunity for the buyer, along with his or her agent, to inspect the home and make sure there aren’t any last-minute problems.
Hopefully, your final walk-through will be smooth sailing. Every now and again, though, issues do arise – and they can go as far as to derail the entire home sale.
Here are 10 of the most common final walk-through discoveries that can potentially throw a wrench into the transaction:
- The home isn't empty.
- The house is a mess.
- The negotiated repairs haven't been completed.
- Included personal property has gone missing.
- The lawn hasn't been cared for.
- The utilities have been shut off.
- The appliances aren't working.
- There's major damage to the walls.
- The HVAC systems aren't working.
- The home was damaged in the moving process.
The Home Isn’t Empty
Unless otherwise agreed upon, the sellers should be totally moved out of the house by the time of the final walk-through. Now, if they left behind a can of paint or a couple bags of trash, that’s probably not the end of the world. But if they left behind much more, the buyer may have to request they come by and clean up.
The House Is a Mess
The typical agreement is that the seller leave the property in broom-clean condition. This is a somewhat nebulous term, and it may mean different things to different people. The house doesn’t necessarily have to be spotless, but neither should it be a disaster area. Ideally, the house should appear move-in ready for the new homeowners.
The Negotiated Repairs Haven’t Been Completed
When buyer and seller negotiate on repairs or renovations, it’s expected that they all be finished by the time of the final walk-through. If the seller needs a little additional time due to unforeseen circumstances, this should be communicated to the buyer well in advance of the closing.
Included Personal Property Has Gone Missing
Did the seller take items they said they would leave for you? Light fixtures? Window treatments? A piece of furniture you wanted to buy along with the house? That’s definitely something that can stall the closing or lead to some tumult.
The Lawn Hasn’t Been Cared For
Generally speaking, real estate contracts stipulate that the seller will keep the lawn areas maintained until the date of closing. That doesn’t mean everything has to be perfectly manicured, but if the grass is five feet tall, or has died during the escrow period, that’s a problem.
The Utilities Have Been Shut Off
Typically, your real estate contract will stipulate that the utilities have to be on through the final walk-through. If you don’t have power or running water during the walk-through, that could technically be a breach of contract.
The Appliances Aren’t Working
For homebuyers, it’s important to use the final walk-through as an opportunity to test all the appliances included in the sale, confirming they work as intended. If something doesn’t work, you can ask the seller for a repair allowance.
There’s Major Damage to the Walls
Did the seller remove a wall-mounted TV, a piece of artwork, or some kind of home automation technology? And if so, did it leave behind damage to the wall? This could be a big issue.
The HVAC Systems Aren’t Working
Buyers should test out both the heating and cooling capabilities of the home. See that they work satisfactorily. If not, that’s something for which you’ll likely want to negotiate repair costs or a price adjustment.
The Home Was Damaged in the Moving Process
If the sellers did any kind of damage to the home while they moved out, that’s something for you to take stock of. In some cases, it may be worthwhile for you to request a repair allowance.
These are some of the main items you’ll want to look out for if you’re a buyer going through your final walk-through. And if you’re in the process of selling a house, let these serve as words of caution. Make sure to avoid these common hurdles to the home closing.
Organize your move early.
Few people can escape heightened stress when it comes time to move. Despite it being a common occurrence – about 11 percent of the U.S. population moved to a new home in 2016, according to the U.S. Census Bureau – moving is undoubtedly an exhausting process. You not only have to pack up everything you own and relocate it, but you also have to clear out your former home and set up house in a new one. It’s easy to find yourself getting into arguments, losing items or running behind a deadline to be out of one place and into another. Here are 10 things you can do to prepare for your move.Research professionals and prices.
Research professionals and prices.
The key to a stress-free move is organization, so you should start thinking about the process as soon as you know you’ll be relocating. Begin by researching moving companies, and take inventory of everything you’ll be moving with you. Then, reach out to a few companies to inquire about cost, availability and materials to move your home. “It’s not unheard of for people to be making inquiries for six months ahead of time,” says Scott Michael, president and CEO of the American Moving & Storage Association. “You don’t need to lock down a contract that early, but it doesn’t hurt to start doing some research.”Book a moving company.
Book a moving company.
Once you know your moving day, whether you’ll need movers to pack up your belongings, how much you’ll be taking with you and what your budget is, book a moving company or reserve a truck if you're moving yourself. You still want to book with as much advance notice as possible, with a minimum of a month’s notice in summer and two- to three-weeks' notice during the rest of the year, says Angela Gonzalez, operations and quality manager for Unpakt, an online marketplace that connects consumers with vetted moving companies.Buy packing materials.
Buy packing materials.
Boxes, tape and trash bags are a given when it comes to moving, so much so that they can easily be overlooked. Purchase or find moving materials early so you can begin packing the things you don’t need right away. You can order materials online, inquire with a local retailer or search Craigslist for used boxes. You can even ask your mover if it will include the cost of providing packing materials in the moving cost.Downsize and start packing early.
Downsize and start packing early.
The last thing you want is to find yourself paying more to move things you don’t want or need. Before you break out the moving boxes, sort through your belongings and determine what goes with you, and what goes away. Those rarely used items you decide to keep should be packed early so you can get a good estimate of how much will be loaded into a moving truck. “The stuff that’s been sitting in your closet for the last five or six months – donate it if you can, or pack it if you really need to keep it,” Gonzalez says.Donate what you don't need.
Donate what you don't need.
Whether it’s a couple bags of clothes the kids don’t wear anymore or a fully stocked pantry of canned goods, minimize the amount of things you take with you – and what you take to the landfill. “A lot of people that are moving have food items in their pantry that maybe they don’t really need anymore,” Michael says, noting moving companies often have contact information for local food banks and may even deliver the donation for you.Transfer your utilities.
Transfer your utilities.
The last thing you want is to arrive at your new home and realize you forgot to turn on the water, heat or electricity – or you didn't turn them off at your old place. Be sure to call in advance and set the start date for your utilities at least a day prior to your move day to ensure everything is on when you arrive. Gonzalez stresses that any utility installation such as cable or internet shouldn't happen on moving day.Change your mailing address.
Change your mailing address.
The U.S. Postal Service makes it easy to change your mailing address online – just go to moversguide.usps.com. You can set up the change of address as far in advance as you'd like so mail will begin forwarding to your new home the day of your move. You should also notify your bank, doctor's office, employer and friends and family of your new address, but you have extra time to do so once you’ve established the change with the post office.Get a permit or reserve space for a moving truck.
Get a permit or reserve space for a moving truck.
If your moving truck will occupy space on a city street with street parking, you’ll likely need to apply for a permit or request “no parking” signs to reserve space on your move day. In Chicago, for example, each ward offers free “no parking” signs for people moving, which must be posted 48 hours in advance. If your moving truck is 16 feet or longer, the Chicago Department of Transportation requires you to apply for a permit. Similar policies exist in other cities for permitting and obtaining signs to clear space. A moving company will often handle the permitting process for its own vehicles, but you should clarify that responsibility when scheduling the move.Take out the trash.
Take out the trash.
Never leave garbage in the home you’re vacating, and if you rented the place, the cost to clean or remove trash will be deducted from your security deposit. To save yourself some cash, pick up garbage in every room as you move items out. Once the home is empty, go back through with cleaning spray and a vacuum or broom. Checking each room will help you catch any small items you may have missed.Schedule with room for delays.
Schedule with room for delays.
There may be a snow storm, a foreign dignitary in town or a car accident that puts the highway at a standstill. Expect the unexpected, and give your itinerary some cushion for such events. Gonzalez says one of the most common mistakes people make is scheduling too much on a moving day. “Give some ample time,” she says. “When you’ve scheduled a move at 8 a.m., don’t schedule a flight for 1 p.m.”Read More
Haas’ team advises homebuyers and sellers on how to make the most of their experience by connecting them with the optimal agent partner for their needs. With over 10 years of experience in the real estate industry, including previous roles at Zillow and Auction.com, Haas is an expert on the ins and outs of home sales.