3 Things You Can’t Forget to Do on Your Final Walk-Through

published Sep 19, 2018
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(Image credit: Trinette Reed/Stocksy)

Your final walk-through is the last hurdle before going to closing and becoming a homeowner. Since it’s so close to the finish line, many first-time buyers have a tendency to try and rush this appointment or not take it as seriously as they should. Unfortunately, this can lead to unintended consequences.

With that in mind, we’ve created a guide on how to handle your walk-through the right way. If you read over these tips and follow the expert advice below, you can rest assured that you’ll go into your final walk-through feeling prepared to handle any outcome.

1. Schedule it early

At first, it may seem to make the most sense to do your final walk-through right before heading to settlement. After all, it is the very last piece of the transaction before getting the keys and, if all goes well, it only takes about an hour. However, you’ll do yourself a favor if you plan for the unexpected.

“Whenever possible, try not to schedule your final walk-through only a few hours before closing,” warns Naomi Hattaway of 8th and Home in Omaha, Nebraska. “If there are any delays due to walk-through issues, it can be messy to reschedule closing and postpone funds being transferred.”

Sometimes things don’t work out as expected. During your walk-through, you could find out that major repairs from previous inspections still need to be made or that one of the home’s main systems suddenly isn’t working. If that happens, you’ll want to have some time left before closing to rectify the issue. It’s best to leave at least one business day between events.

2. Try everything out

Remember, the final walk-through is your last chance to get the sellers to take care of things that aren’t working properly. Come closing, you own the home and all of its problems. In this case, the only way to know for sure which areas of the home need fixing is through trial and error. Don’t be afraid to try everything out.

“A final walk-through is not the time to be shy!” says Katherine Scarim with Island Bridge Realty in Jupiter, Florida. “Open and close all blinds and every cabinet, turn on all appliances including the ice-maker and garbage disposal. Turn on both the A/C and heater, regardless of what season it is. Check that keys work in every door, test the garage door opener, and run the in-ground sprinklers.”

Believe it or not, though the list of tasks above is extensive, it’s not complete. Ask your agent about any additional features they recommend testing. They likely have been through this process many times before and will have a solid idea of what to check. In particular, pay close attention to all plumbing systems and any repairs that were negotiated during your prior inspections.

3. Document any issues

“Be sure to photograph all items that were supposed to be repaired or changed, as well as any new issues that you may find,” advises Jlyne Hanback of JNH Global, LLC in Plano, Texas. “These photos and notes will be helpful in corroborating any complaints about the property.”

Like Hanback says, sometimes walk-throughs don’t go according to plan. If there is an issue, you need to bring it to the sellers’ attention. Unfortunately, in this case, your word won’t cut it; you need documentation. A simple photo or video is usually enough, so just make sure you have your smartphone ready (and with a full battery) to capture any faults.

Typically, getting things fixed should only be a matter of sending the photos to the listing agent. However, you’ll want to keep the photos on hand until after you’ve seen proof of repairs. In the unlikely event that things turn sour and you end up in court, those photos can serve as proof of your case. Don’t delete them until you’re positive you don’t need them anymore.