Note: This is a chapter in my new ebook called The Ultimate Guide to Buying (and then Selling) Your First Home. I will post a chapter a week. If you like what you read, you can pick up a copy here for the price of a candy bar! Buy a candy bar or be a real estate guru! This chapter goes over the final walk through when buying a house. The last chapter to be shared on this blog you can find here.
Before we ended our coffee appointment, I wanted to be sure that Steve and Sally had a good understanding of one of the last steps they will take in the process: final walkthrough. I told them “At this point in the process of buying your first home, you are probably thinking that there can’t be anything else to do other than sign the paperwork and pay the money. You would be wrong. There is one final step for you to take if you decide you want take it. It is the final walk through. As a buyer, it is recommended that you do one more tour of the property you are buying. There are certain things you will want to check on the final walk through. At the bare minimum, you want to bring a measure tape to see if you can fit that furniture where you think you can fit it. It is also nice just to see it one last time. I do recommend you do the following three things during your final walk through.”
1. Were the Repairs done properly – I reminded the young couple about the repair amendment we negotiated back before the finance approval. I continued. “You were probably wondering when you would get a chance to ensure these repairs were done properly. Now is that time. The structural repairs, like foundation and roof, should be done before the final walk through as you want to make sure these are done properly before this stage of the process. Everything else, you can check at the final walkthrough. You can handle the cosmetic repairs, but if it is a repair that requires a particular set of expertise, you will need to make sure that expert is with you during the walk through.” What happens if the repair has not been done properly? asked Steve. I smiled at his question and replied. “I will get with the listing agent to make sure this is done before you close. For this reason, it is always best to schedule your final walk through a few days before closing date. You don’t want to delay the closing because the seller does not have enough time to make that one final adjustment to the repairs.” I also advised that they don’t take shabby repairs as it being done. Due to the repair amendment, the seller is required to make sure the repairs are done properly or face defaulting on the contract. Please be firm and don’t give into the voice telling you it is ok if it isn’t perfect, you just want the repair done, because you will hate voice in six months when the repair starts to haunt you by always being there for you to see. It is always best to hold the seller accountable and get the repair done.
2. Damages or anything missing from the property – Sally looked alarmed at this possibility, so I quickly went into my usual lesson for first time home buyers. “After you are done checking on the contracted repairs, it is time to see if there had been any damages done to the property since you last saw the house. Did a storm come through and knock a tree on the house? Did the seller take on karate and accidentally punch a hole in the wall? There are any number of things that could go wrong during the final 30 days of a contract resulting in damage to the property.” I told them that sellers are contractually obligated to provide you with a property as it was when executed the contract. “If the seller does not want to make the repairs, you can terminate the contract and move on. You have the option of extending the time the seller has to bring the property back to its original condition (for up to 15 days). Finally, you can just accept the property as is if it is insurable, and the mortgage provider agrees to it.” I paused for a second for any questions. They didn’t seem to have any, so I went on. “You also want to make sure the seller has not removed anything from the property that should have stayed. Sellers can exclude any accessories or improvements from the sale of the house, but they have to explicit state as such in the contract. If you were expecting those pretty living room drapes to stay and they are gone, the seller is in default and you need to let your agent know about it. If the seller refuses to bring it back, that some sort of financial concession should be reached to make up for the loss of the improvement or accessory.” I told them deals have fallen apart because of this issue so it is best to check to make sure you are getting what you expect as a buyer. Once again, be firm and stick to your guns. You have a right to that property. “Both Steve and Sally looked unsure and unsettled, but nodded their acknowledgement.
3. Get to know your future house better – To ease some of their tension, I went into the third consideration for the walk through, which is much more fun than the first two. “Final walk throughs give you an opportunity to spend some more time in their home and start to get familiar with it. Many buyers will want to plan on how to arrange their furniture and what colors to paint the walls. Do they want to put in a certain type of flooring before moving into the house? The kitchen should be looked at closely to see where everything will go. Bathrooms will need to be examined also for the same reason. Bedrooms can often be complicated in how you arrange your furniture so make sure to spend some time in the bedrooms.” I went on to mention that if the couple had kids, the final walk through is a great time to have them visit gently their rooms to help with any anxiety they might be feeling about the move. Kids should not stay the whole time as bored children can sometimes distract you from what you need to be doing with the final walk through. I finished my lesson with the following. “Some other useful things to know is where are the trash cans currently stored and any spare flooring or paint left by the seller. What about the garage door openers? Is there an alarm system? If there is, do spend some time looking it over. Please do remember, however, not to overstay your welcome. Most seller are most likely still packing and getting ready to move. You don’t want to spend more than a couple of hours on your final walk through to allow the seller a chance back into the house to continue to get ready to get out of the house.”
Steve and Sally sighed when I was finished. I could see that they were ready to head out. I said I was done with my lesson and they thanked me for the time that afternoon. I reminded them that closing was coming up soon and I would be calling them to get the best time for them to sign all the paperwork.