Real talk: buying a house can be intimidating. So we created the first-time homebuyer series to take the mystery and anxiety out of the house-hunting process. Dive into our complete guide which covers every step of the process: why you should buy a house, how to get pre-approved for a loan, how to find an agent, how to search for a home, how to make an offer (and negotiate!), how an inspection works and how to close once you find the dream home. Don’t worry we spell it all out for you so that if this is your first time (or third) you’ll have all of the information you need for a successful purchase right at your fingertips. Read the entire series here.
The final walkthrough is a big moment! You are literally just one step away from finally closing on your new home and becoming a first-time homebuyer. The final walkthrough is your time to assess everything about the home one last time, make sure any updates or repairs that were negotiated have been made and it’s your last chance to ask questions about the house before it officially becomes yours.
We’ll explain the following steps:
- What the final walkthrough is
- What you should be looking for
- Your final walkthrough checklist
- How to address any problems you may find
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Let’s get into it!
What is the Final Walkthrough?
At this point in the process, you and your agent have set a closing day and time with the seller, your lender and closing attorney. About 12-24 hours before closing, you and your agent should do the final walkthrough of the home. Some buyers have even done the final walkthrough on the way to closing! You can also use this time to take any last-minute measurements or notes you may need to pass on to the movers.
You should always do a final walkthrough– even if the house had little to no issues to remedy. Even if you are 100% confident the house is in good condition and nothing had to be changed, you’re covering your bases by checking it out one last time before you sign on the dotted line (and hand over a lot of money!).
Who goes to the final walkthrough?
You (and whoever else is buying the home with you) and your agent will do the final walkthrough together. Some buyers have also brought along their home inspector, contractor or handyman to assess the repairs that should have been made. There’s nothing wrong with bringing a home repair professional with you, just keep in mind they may charge you for their time. So make sure to include that cost in your budget!
Will the seller be at the final walkthrough?
No, the seller should not be at the final walkthrough. But it can be a little complicated if the seller hasn’t moved out of the house yet. If your purchase agreement allows the seller to remain in the home until closing day, it’s possible their belongings will still be in the home. But even if they’re still living in the house, the seller should not be physically present for your final walkthrough.
If the purchase agreement set their move-out date before the final walkthrough, there shouldn’t be anything in the house except what they agreed to leave behind (like major appliances) and the home should be “broom clean.” This means the home should be fairly cleaned up- i.e. the seller at least ran a broom through it and didn’t leave any junk or trash behind.
The best time to do the walkthrough is after the seller is moved out but about 12-24 hours before closing. You can see the house without the seller’s belongings there and you have time to fix any problems you find. This can be tricky to accomplish and sometimes you may even need to do two walkthroughs if something doesn’t go as planned or the seller’s belongings prevent you from being able to complete a thorough walkthrough.
What to Look for in the Final Walkthrough
The final walkthrough can take anywhere from 15 minutes to a few hours- it just depends on how big the home is and how much needed to be fixed. Your agent will prepare you for what to look for and what to do if any issues are found.
What do I bring to the final walkthrough?
Come prepared! You should bring the following items:
- The final purchase agreement
- Home inspection report
- Pest inspection report (if necessary)
- Pens and paper to take notes with
If you prefer to take notes on your phone, you certainly can. However, Dave Ramsey had a good suggestion of bringing pens and sticky notes with you to mark areas of the house that need attention. You should also be prepared to take photos, either with your phone or a professional camera.
What should your agent bring to the walkthrough?
Your agent should come just as prepared for the walkthrough as you are! A good agent will bring the following:
- Any invoices or receipts showing inspection repairs have been made and paid
- Home warranty with the company’s customer service phone number
- Final walkthrough document to be signed once the walkthrough is completed
What do I look for in the final walkthrough?
There’s a lot to look over during the final walkthrough! Think of it like a home inspection that you’re conducting yourself. The point is to make sure nothing has changed in the house since you last saw it, repairs or improvements have been made as agreed upon and anything the seller was supposed to leave for you is there and in good condition.
Here’s what to check during the final walkthrough:
- HVAC system
- Electrical system
- Kitchen appliances (if left there)
- Condition of the kitchen
- Laundry appliances (if left there)
- Plumbing and condition of bathrooms
- Ensure all systems are working
- Windows and doors
- Basement/crawl space
- The exterior of the house
- Septic system
- Pest treatment, if applicable
- Repairs and improvements
HVAC system- Turn on the heating and cooling and make sure you can feel it in every room. Check the thermostat to make sure it’s working properly.
Electrical system- Turn on the lights in every room to make sure switches are working. Ring the doorbell if there is one and don’t forget to double-check any exterior lights as well.
Kitchen appliances- Turn on your stove and oven and check all the controls. Double-check your vent fan to be sure it works. Turn the microwave on for a few seconds to make sure it’s running as well. Run a cycle on the dishwasher to make sure it’s working. If the seller is leaving the refrigerator (and it’s still plugged in), make sure the fridge and freezer are both the right temperatures. If the sink has a disposal, turn the faucet on and flip the switch to make sure it’s on and working. If the house has a trash compactor, you should test that too.
Condition of the kitchen- Take a look at the rest of the kitchen while you’re there. Do cabinets and countertops look to be in good condition? Is the water running in the sink? Any appliances that the seller agreed to leave should still be installed and in good working condition.
Laundry appliances- If the seller left the washer and dryer, you should make sure those are hooked up to water and electricity respectively and do a test run on both machines to make sure they’re working.
Plumbing and bathrooms- Test all of the toilets, sinks, showers and bathtubs in the house and any outbuildings (such as a guest house or outdoor shower). When you’re inspecting the bathrooms, be sure to check the tile work and flooring around the bathtub/shower and toilet. Look for mold, water damage and anything else that is worth addressing. Turn all the vent fans as well to make sure they’re operational.
Systems- You should make sure to test any and all systems such as the water softener, house alarm, any intercoms, the sprinkler system, the sump pump, the hot water heater and smoke alarms. If any previous issues existed with these systems and the seller agreed to fix them, this is the time to make sure they did.
Windows and doors- Make sure all screens and any storm doors are still installed and functioning. Check the windows and windowsills- especially if new ones have recently been installed. Make sure they were properly installed and in working order.
Basement/crawl space- Check the walls and floors in the basement- especially if water damage or flooding had been noted in the seller’s disclosure or home inspection report. If the seller agreed to make repairs in the basement, you absolutely need to make sure it’s been done and done well. If there was extensive work required in the basement, this might be the right time to bring your home inspector or contractor with you to inspect the repairs.
Attic- Just like the basement, if the home has an attic that required repairs or improvements, you should check to make sure the work was done. If any pests were found in the attic, now would be the time to see if treatment has been effective.
Garage- Make sure the doors open and close smoothly and if there is an opener or keypad, test them to make sure they are operational. Check the floor and walls for any new cracks or damage. If the seller has moved out already, the garage should be empty without anything left in storage.
Exterior- Walk around the outside of the home to make sure the roof, siding, windows and doors all look to be in good condition. If anything on the exterior was due to be repaired, double-check the fixes. Make sure you check out anything that might have been covered in snow the last time you saw the house! If the home has a porch or a deck, inspect them as well and make sure the wood, rails and structure seem sound. Run the water through any exterior spigots and hoses as well.
If the home has a pool, you need to look it over and make sure the filtration and pump systems are working.
There should be no trash, clutter or debris left behind in the yard, in the garage or around the house.
Septic system- If the home relies on a septic system, you’ll do some of the same testings you would for the plumbing, such as flushing the toilets. At this point, the seller should already have updated you on the septic system condition, dates of last maintenance, any prior issues and passed along any warranty information.
Pest treatment- If the pest inspector found a pest infestation that required treatment, this may be a good time to check on the progress if treatment is complete. If the house had mice, check for signs of droppings, the smell of urine or the marks of chewing. If the house had termites or other wood-destroying pests, you can check to see if the inspector’s traps or treatments are still up. Stay in contact with the pest inspector treating the home so they can update you on further treatment options if needed and give you information about a warranty.
Repairs- If any kind of repairs, improvements, replacements or installations were agreed upon between you and the seller, now is the time to make sure they were done. Your purchase agreement will reflect the list of repairs that should have been made and you should note that everything was completed or note what hasn’t been done.
Your Final Walkthrough Checklist
What Happens If The Seller Didn’t Make Repairs?
If the seller did not make any agreed-upon repairs or updates, you have several options:
1. You can ask for the cost of the repairs to be taken out of the seller’s proceeds.
If the repairs are expensive, you can ask your agent to work with their closing team to hold some of the seller’s proceeds in an escrow account until the seller makes the repairs or you reach a new agreement. An escrow account is an account held by a neutral third-party where funds may reside temporarily before being distributed to the correct parties.
If the repairs are costly enough to impact you, say replacing the HVAC system or installing new flooring, it’s worth talking to your agent about making sure the seller fulfills their agreement with you and makes the repairs or covers the cost out of their own proceeds.
2. You can ask the seller to pay you for the cost of the repairs.
This could be an option if the cost of a repair or update is minor (say $100 or less). You can ask the seller to pay you out of their own pocket for the cost of doing the repairs yourself. This is considered a concession on your part and closing could proceed as planned.
3. You can ask for closing to be delayed until the seller makes the repairs.
If you have the ability and time to wait, you can always delay closing on the house completely until the agreed-upon repairs are made by the seller. This may be your best option if the repairs are essential and expensive, such as a new plumbing installation or roof repairs.
If you decide to go this route, your agent will work with their closing team and the seller to set back the closing date until the seller can fulfill their side of the purchase agreement. In some cases, your lender may require certain improvements to be made to the home before certain loans (like FHA loans) can be funded. In this case, you would have to delay closing until the seller makes repairs.
4. You can ask the seller to agree to make the repairs after closing.
Your agent most likely won’t recommend this as the best option, but you may find yourself in a time crunch when it comes to closing- especially if you’re due to leave a rented property on a certain date. If the repair is minor or inexpensive, you can always negotiate with the seller to agree to complete it after you’ve closed on the home. This would be documented in an amendment to your purchase agreement that both parties would have to sign. However, it would be harder to hold a seller accountable once the closing is complete.
If you find unresolved issues with the house, do not close without remedying it with the seller. Your agent is your best resource and advocate- they will negotiate on your behalf to make sure any issues you find are resolved.
What do I do when the final walkthrough is complete?
Once the final walkthrough is complete, you and the seller will both sign off on a summary of the walkthrough. This document basically states that you’ve completed the walkthrough, notified the seller of any issues that still need to be remedied and are ready to move forward.
Remember, the final walkthrough is not a second home inspection and it’s not the time to point out any issues you didn’t negotiate already with the seller. This is your chance to make sure nothing new has developed since the home inspection, to make sure any negotiated repairs have been made, to make sure anything the seller agreed to leave behind for you is there and works and to make sure the house is overall clean and in good condition.
Once any repair issues are resolved or if there are no issues that need to be addressed, you’re ready to close on your new home! We’ll cover closing day and what to expect in the final article in our first-time homebuyer series.