The Final Walkthrough: Checklist Of What To Look For
Victoria Araj9-minute read
June 22, 2023
When you’re buying a house and you’re nearly at the finish line, you’ll get to do a final walk-through home inspection of your property before closing day. The final walk-through is your chance to make sure everything is in order and that your new home is ready for you.
Let’s take a closer look at what you need to do during the final walk-through and why it’s important.
What Is A Final Walk-Through?
A final walk-through is an important step in the home buying process. It provides an opportunity for home buyers to inspect the house before the official closing. The final walk-through allows the buyer and their real estate agent to go through the house room by room.
First, the walk-through is a chance for the buyers to make sure everything is in the same condition (or better) as the last time they saw the home. They can verify that the seller hasn’t taken anything from the home they weren’t supposed to. The final walk-through also allows the buyer to see that the seller has made any repairs they promised to make.
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Final Walk-Through Checklist
The final walk-through is the buyer’s opportunity to make sure the home is in the condition it should be and that there aren’t any remaining issues that the seller failed to address. Once the closing moves forward and the buyer moves into the home, it’s likely too late to bring any problems forward. For that reason, it’s important that the buyer be thorough.
Here’s a checklist of important things to be on the lookout for during the final walk-through.
1. Inspection Repairs
You may have included an inspection contingency or a few requests for repairs when you submitted an offer for your home. Did the seller agree to make repairs before closing? The final walk-through is your last opportunity to confirm that the seller made the required repairs – or that no new, obvious repairs still need to be made. This is it: the last time you can ensure that the repairs are up to your standards and include quality work.
What To Look For
Bring along a copy of your inspection summary as well as your accepted offer letter, and check up on every repair the seller agreed to have fixed. Don’t simply take the seller’s word that everything’s in good working order – check for yourself. For example, the seller might have agreed to fix one of the light switches in the dining room. Flip the light on and make sure it stays on. Does your purchase agreement include new faucets? If so, make sure they’re there and test them out.
Ask the seller for the warranties or repair receipts for all work they did on the home. Know who to call if something breaks again after you move in. This can save you money, as most home repair companies offer limited-time warranties that include free fixes. Then, check inspection repairs off your checklist.
2. Belongings Moved In Or Out
You want to make sure the seller is completely moved out of the home before you close. This is beneficial for you as the buyer for two reasons. First, walking through an empty home makes it much easier to spot new defects that may have occurred when the seller was moving out, as well as repairs that weren’t completed as agreed. Second, ensuring that the homeowner is all moved out saves you the trouble of cleaning up someone else’s stuff.
What To Look For
Look in every room and check for any belongings that the seller left behind. Double-check for leftover toys and lawn equipment, too. Don’t forget to look in all of the closets, the attic, the basement and any garages or sheds. You might want to close off each room as you check in order to ensure that you don’t miss an area.
Review your acceptance letter from the seller for everything they agreed to leave behind. Check for appliances, fixtures and other items that are part of your agreement. Contact the seller before closing if you notice they left something behind that they shouldn’t have, or they’ve taken something they agreed to leave.
3. Locks And Windows
Make sure your home is totally secure before closing. Here are some things to include on your checklist:
- Do all windows and doors lock and unlock correctly?
- Do all windows slide open easily?
- Do any windows or doors stick (which can be a major hazard in the event of a fire or other emergency)?
- Are there holes, tears or defects in the window screens? Are any missing?
- Do window screens pop out easily?
Additionally, your home may be equipped with an alarm system that tells you when a window or exterior door is open. Arm your alarm and make sure the sensors on all of your doors and windows work.
Confirm that all of the appliances in the home work as you’d expect. Here are some essential tests you need to run when you do your walk-through:
- Make sure your oven heats up without smelling like gas.
- Run the dishwasher through a full cycle. You may want to toss in a dirty dish to make sure it comes out clean and undamaged.
- Turn the washing machine and dryer on and off.
- Run water in all of the drains to make sure they empty out and don’t clog.
- Make sure there aren’t any strange smells coming from the running water.
- Run the garbage disposal if the home has one.
- Open and close the garage door. Make sure it opens and closes only when you use the correct key or code.
- Run your heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system on both the heating and air-conditioning modes. Make sure the home heats up or cools down in a reasonable amount of time.
- Arm and disarm the home’s security system if it has one. Confirm that only the correct code or key can activate the system.
- Flush every single toilet to make sure it works well. Verify that the water shutoff valves near the base of the toilets also work.
- Run the water in your showers and sinks. Make sure the water gets hot and cold in a reasonable amount of time, check the water pressure in the shower and confirm that your bathtub holds water when you plug the drain.
Ensuring that all of your appliances work before closing can save you money on repair bills after closing. Are you buying the home as is? Write down what needs to be replaced or repaired. This will make it easier to fix up your home later.
Buying a house with mold can become a large and expensive problem even between the time the homeowner moves out and when you move in. It can spring up in as little as a few days, so carefully inspect moist areas like the bathroom and kitchen. Here are some checklist items for you:
- Pay special attention to toilet bases and around the drain of your bathtub or shower.
- Open your sink cabinets and check for mold around your sinks as well.
- Inspect the base of the refrigerator and sinks.
- Check the bottom of your dishwasher and the bottom of any kitchen doors that lead outside.
6. Electricity And Outlets
Most electrical systems work on a current, which means that if even a single outlet in the home isn’t working, you might quickly have problems with other outlets. Walk through the house with your cell phone charger and plug it into every outlet in every room. You don’t need to wait and see if the outlet charges your phone, just ensure that your charger registers the outlet as soon as you plug it in. You can also purchase a multimeter to check each outlet.
Next, check the plate covers on the electrical switches. Make sure the plates look secure and that there are no signs of damage. Confirm that the home’s light fixtures, doorbells and garage door openers work as well.
7. Backyard And Outdoors
Inspect the outside of the property as closely as you inspect the home’s interior. Take a walk around the lawn or backyard and make sure the landscaping looks great. Some sellers dig up bushes, plants and even small trees when they leave their property behind. If the house has a gate, take a walk around it both on the interior and exterior of the property. Make sure the gate latches and unlatches easily.
Does the home have a pool? Inspect the pool and look for mold, mildew and damage to the lining. Test and inspect the pool gate. Take notes of any damage, holes or wood rot you find on the fence.
Next, take a look at the home’s irrigation system, if it has one. Turn the water on and off and make note of any sprinklers that aren’t working. Inspect the interior and exterior of any sheds. Confirm that the homeowner hasn’t left any dangerous chemicals or tools lying around.
An added benefit of doing a detailed outdoor walk-through is that it also gives you an opportunity to make note of any exterior upgrades you might wish to make once the home is officially yours. These potential changes won’t be related to the inspection, of course, but it can be fun to dream about what your backyard will look like one day.
Pests can move in after the seller moves out even if a home is totally clean during an inspection. Keep a careful eye out for termites, rodents and ants, especially if the homeowner left garbage behind.
Also look for mouse droppings, bite marks on wood and other signs of uninvited critters. Dry rot, spongy floors and wooden walls that look like they’re covered in tiny pinholes can all be signs of termites. Don’t forget to inspect the chimney. Birds and raccoons often make their homes inside chimneys after a home has been uninhabited for even a little while.
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Who Attends A Final Walk-Through?
In most cases, it’s just the buyer and their real estate agent who attend the final walk-through. The real estate agent is there to help them through the process. An agent may have a better idea of what the buyers should look for during the walk-through. In the event that something is wrong with the home, the agent can help the buyer with taking next steps.
When Does A Final Walk-Through Occur?
Most final walk-throughs happen a few days before, or even the day of, closing. The walk-through usually takes place after the seller has moved out of the home. If the seller hasn’t fully moved out yet, they might be present for the walk-through. In this case, the seller’s real estate agent would likely attend as well.
How Long Does A Final Walk-Through Take?
The amount of time a final walk-through takes depends on the size of the home. For smaller properties, a final walk-through can be done in about 15 minutes. For larger homes, you may need to block off an hour or more to ensure you can complete the final walk-through thoroughly.
What To Do If You Find Issues During The Final Walk-Through
In a perfect world, buyers would always go do the final walk-through to find the home in great condition, with the seller having repaired everything they said they would. And while it’s often the case that the final walk-through goes smoothly, it’s possible that buyers will find problems.
There are a few different options available to you if you find problems, and which you choose is likely to depend on the severity of the issues. Here are some of them:
- For a minor issue, ask the seller to fix it before the closing.
- Delay the closing so the seller has time to fix the problem.
- In extreme circumstances where there’s major damage to the home or an expensive fix that the seller refused to repair, you may have to either walk away from the sale or take legal action.
The Bottom Line
The final walk-through is your last chance to spot problems with your home and ensure the seller has finished all repairs. Don’t skip anything on your final walk-through checklist, and if you find any problems with the home, consult your real estate agent to decide on the best course of action.
That said, it’s important to remember that there will always be things you want changed or updated in your new home and it’s not reasonable to expect the seller to make every single desired upgrade. You should certainly expect to undertake some home improvement projects on your own after you officially buy the house. If there are projects that are beyond the scope of your experience, plan to get a quote or advice from an expert.
Want to learn more about what to look out for if you move on to the closing process? Check out our step-by-step guide to closing on a house.
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