The purpose of the final walk-through is to make sure the home is in acceptable condition before the sale is finalized. It’s unusual for problems to crop up this late in the homebuying process — but it’s possible. Here are some problems to look out for, as well as potential ways to resolve them.
14 Common Walk-Through Problems To Look Out For
Here are some not-so-uncommon issues that can arise during the final walk-through:
- The seller hasn’t removed all their belongings. The seller may have moved out quickly and left behind items they neither want nor need. However, you shouldn’t be responsible for taking out their trash.
- The home was damaged when the seller moved out. Moving large, heavy items out of the home can damage the walls or floors. The final walk-through is your chance to make sure the home has been left unscathed.
- The seller removed items that were part of the sale. If the seller took appliances that were supposed to come with the house, you’ll want to sort that out before closing.
- The home hasn’t been left “broom swept.” Many purchase and sale agreements require that homes be left “broom swept,” which means that at a minimum the home has been swept and vacuumed.
- Agreed-upon repairs haven’t been made. If the home inspection revealed certain repairs were needed and the seller agreed to handle them, you’ll want to make sure they’ve been completed.
- Appliances aren’t working. Buying a home is already expensive. Imagine moving in, only to find that you immediately need to purchase a new refrigerator or dishwasher.
- Utilities have been shut off. You can’t move into a home that lacks running water or electricity. Be sure to test all the outlets and lights to check that the power is on and functional.
- Heating and cooling systems aren’t working as expected. Depending on the age of the home, the heating and cooling systems may be compromised. Double-check to confirm that you can control the temperature of the home.
- You find a leak or mold. Mold isn’t just dangerous — it can be very expensive to remove. Water damage from leaks also can cost thousands of dollars to fix.
- There are problems with the plumbing. Make sure that the toilets flush completely and the drains aren’t clogged.
- Windows or doors don’t lock securely. Issues with the windows or doors can pose a safety and security hazard.
- You find evidence of pests. Even if a pest inspection didn’t find an infestation, it’s possible that they could’ve moved in after the seller vacated the property.
- The irrigation system doesn’t work. If the home has a garden or lawn, you’ll want to make sure that the sprinklers are functional.
- The lawn and landscaping are in expected condition. Make sure that any landscaping that was part of the deal hasn’t been dug up.
“The most common issues that can arise during the final walk-through include problems with appliances, leaks, and damage to walls or flooring,” says Adie Kriegstein, a real estate agent and founder of the NYC Experience Team at Compass in New York City. “Another issue that may arise during the final walk-through is the discovery of missing or damaged items that were included in the purchase and sale agreement. This can include anything from light fixtures and window treatments to furniture.”
7 Ways To Resolve Walk-Through Problems
If you find an issue during the final walk-through, here are some steps to take:
- Notify your real estate agent. You’ll be able to lean on your real estate agent or Realtor for their experience and expertise. They’ll know how to communicate with the seller’s agent.
- Work with the seller. If certain repairs are needed, you can negotiate to have the seller make them before closing.
- Delay the closing date. If the repairs will take some time to finish, then you may decide to push your closing date until they’re complete.
- Hold back escrow funds. If the seller is unwilling to handle certain repairs, another option is to withhold a portion of their proceeds to cover those costs.
- Renegotiate the sale. You also potentially can renegotiate the purchase price if you’ve determined that the home is coming with a defect.
- Cancel the sale. If the issue is serious and you’re unable to resolve it, you may be able to walk away from the deal.
- Take legal action. In extreme cases, you may decide to hire a lawyer and consider filing a lawsuit. A closing attorney can represent you in any legal disputes.
“Make sure the issues discovered are brought up to the seller and seller’s rep immediately,” Kriegstein says. “If the issue is minor, you may be able to negotiate with the seller for monetary credit or repair. If the issue is more serious, you may have the option to cancel the sale or request that the seller make the necessary repairs before closing.”
Here are answers to frequently asked questions about resolving problems that during the final walk-through.