When you’re buying a house, the final walk-through is your chance to inspect the home and make sure there are no surprises before you move in.
Here’s what you need to know about how the final walk-through works, and what you should look for.
What Is a Final Home Walk-Through?
The final home walk-through is an informal inspection of the property before closing on a sale. During the final walk-through, you and your real estate agent or Realtor may inspect the house room by room to confirm it’s in the condition you expect.
The final walk-through shouldn’t be confused with the home inspection, which involves a professional examination of the structure and functionality of the home. That occurs earlier in the homebuying process. The walk-through is to verify that the home is in the expected condition and any agreed-upon repairs have been completed.
Why Is a Final Walk-Through Important?
The final walk-through is your chance to confirm that the seller has completed all the agreed-upon repairs. Otherwise, you’ll inherit any unresolved issues that can be expensive to fix.
It’s also an opportunity to ensure the seller’s belongings have been removed from the home without leaving new damage. If there are certain items that were part of the deal, you can make sure they’re still present.
This is your last chance to inspect the house before closing, so you won’t want to skip the final walk-through.
When Does the Final Walk-Through Happen?
The final walk-through is done just before closing, usually after the seller’s belongings have been moved out. It’s best to schedule the final walk-through as near to the closing date as possible to limit the chance of new issues popping up before you take possession. The day before or the day of your closing is a good idea.
“Make sure to schedule the walk-through when the property is vacant and at a time that works for you when you won’t be rushed so that you can ensure you have enough time to feel like you have thoroughly inspected the property,” says Adie Kriegstein, a real estate agent and founder of the NYC Experience Team at Compass in New York City. “It’s crucial to take your time during this inspection and carefully examine every aspect of the property.”
Who Attends the Final Home Walk-Through?
Your real estate agent or Realtor will be your teammate on the final home walk-through. Lean on their experience and expertise to thoroughly check out the home. The seller and their agent typically don’t attend the final walk-through, so you and your real estate agent will have privacy and the ability to take your time.
If any repairs were agreed to as part of the sale, you may want a home inspector to attend and confirm the repairs have been made. If you’re building a new-construction home, then you’ll want your contractor or builder present to confirm all the necessary work has been completed.
What To Look For at the Final Home Walk-Through
You want to be thorough during the final walk-through because once you close the sale, any problems with the home will be your responsibility.
Here are some of the key points to confirm during your home walk-through:
- The seller’s belongings have been removed.
- All items included in the sale are accounted for, such as appliances.
- All agreed-upon repairs have been made.
- No new damage has occurred since the home inspection.
- Windows and doors open, close, and lock correctly.
- Appliances are in good working order.
- Heating, ventilating, and cooling systems work properly.
- Electrical systems work properly.
- Faucets, drains, and plumbing are working.
- There’s no sign of mold or pests.
- The yard or outdoor space looks good.
How Long Does the Final Walk-Through Take?
The time it takes to complete a final walk-through depends on the type of property and its size. A final walk-through on a smaller home can be done in less than an hour, while a larger property may require several hours.
It’s important to take your time and avoid rushing through the home. Give yourself the time you need to be thorough, so that you know exactly what you’ll be walking into when you move in.
What Are Your Options If You Find Problems?
If the final walk-through reveals any problems with the home, your real estate agent can help you communicate with the seller to find a solution.
“Keep in mind that while you can bring them any issues discovered with the seller and their rep, they are not necessarily obligated to make any changes,” Kriegstein says. “It is important that you address any issues discovered on your final walk through with your real estate agent or attorney so they can better help you negotiate and fix those items discovered.”
It’s uncommon to discover any major issues during the final walk-through, but here are some options if you do.
One option is to ask the seller to complete all necessary repairs before closing. While this can extend your timeline and push your closing date, you won’t inherit any expensive problems with the home.
Renegotiate the contract
If you are eager to move into the home and don’t want to delay the closing date, then you can negotiate to have the seller cover the cost of repairs. Instead of waiting for the repairs to be completed, you can handle them yourself after closing.
Complete an escrow holdback
Another option is an escrow holdback, where money is withheld from the seller’s proceeds to cover the cost of repairs. Instead of the seller writing a check, the amount is deducted from the purchase price.
Back out of the deal
If the issue is major and you’re unable to find a solution, it’s possible to walk away from the deal. This will result in you losing your earnest money deposit, so carefully consider the pros and cons of walking away this late in the process.
Having the deal fall apart is an unlikely outcome, since you and the seller have already made it this far.
Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about the final walk-through.