As the years go by on my real estate career, I’ve had to be conscious of the fact that just because I’ve been through the ups and downs of buying a house time and time again, my buyers haven’t. To a first-time home buyer, every step is new and exciting part of their journey to finding the home of their dreams. What is a final walk through before buying a house?
The final walk through before buying a house is the last time the new buyer will be at the house before they become the new owners. The timing and expectations for your walk through will differ by each real estate market.
Since we work the real estate market in the Saint Louis, Missouri metropolitan market, we’re going to talk about what we know. One thing to pay attention to is that if you are already on the walk through portion of the sale, you should be pretty happy. You’re well along in the process of owning your own home!
As I take my buyers through the final walk through, it’s important to set a level of expectation for yourself consistent with this event. The final walk through is NOT the Spanish Inquisition. You aren’t looking for witches, or summoning the demons of hell to bear witness to a possible seller transgression. The walk through is not the next opportunity to lob another bomb in the civil war that was the negotiation for the purchase of this home. If you want to have a smooth transition of ownership, you’re going to have to tone it down just a little bit.
Is There A Final Walk Through Before Closing?
There doesn’t have to be. It all depends on the customs and practices of your local real estate market. For example, If I’m working with a real estate investor, they may not want to go through the walk through. For them, if a window is broken, it really doesn’t matter: They’re going to be replacing them all anyway. Now, I still think they should at least drive by the house and see if it is indeed still standing.
What Should You Look For In A Final Walk Through Before Buying A House?
The final walk through is a formality for the most part if you and your real estate agent are on top of things. If you’ve negotiated repairs on the property, you and your agents should already have the receipts and lien waivers either before or at the walk through.
Don’t be surprised if the house still has seller belongings up to the day before closing. It’s not strange or odd. Some sellers will even schedule the movers to come the day of the closing. You really want to be asking yourself two questions on the walk through.
- Is the house in the same condition or better since we’ve agreed to buy it? As an example, let’s say you’ve agreed to purchase a home and the inside is gorgeous. But, when you go to the walk through, there’s graffiti all over the walls and the air conditioning is missing along with the plumbing. That’s not what you agreed to buy. In that case, at least in St. Louis, you would file an inspection notice with the seller in the hopes that some agreement could be reached.
- Is there a repair that was agreed to by the seller that has not been completed? In this case, let’s say you agreed with the seller that they would fix a leaking faucet. On the walk through, you notice that the faucet is still leaking. Now, if it’s days before a closing, they may not have gotten to the repair yet, and there’s really no requirement they do so before the walk through. The best course of action is just to ask the listing agent if all repairs have been made. If they have been made, then let them know that the faucet still leaks via the walk through notice.
When Should The Final Walk Through Be Done?
The final walk through is determined via the contract. In the St. Louis market on a standard residential sale contract, the buyer has the right to conduct a walk through up to 4 days before the closing. I suppose you could negotiate a walk through earlier, but, it’s just not something that is done that often in our market.
What Can Buyers Demand At The Final Walk Through?
The buyers can demand that the items that were to be repaired are actually repaired. However, the time frame is the issue. The sellers have until closing to repair the items. If you schedule a walk through and the work isn’t done, don’t just assume that the work won’t be done.
The buyers should expect that the house is free from any seller possessions at closing. However, during the final walk through the house may still have items that belong to the seller, and that is OK.
Final Walk Through Before Closing Checklist
If you need a checklist for the final closing walk through, you just aren’t approaching it correctly. At least that’s true in St. Louis. Take a copy of the list of repairs you’ve agreed with the seller to make. Look and see if you can tell that the work has been performed. Sometimes, that’s pretty much impossible. For example, sometimes the seller agrees to clean the sewer lateral. If you have a receipt from the sewer company that the work has been performed, that should be enough to prove the work has been done. There’s no need to stick your head in the sewer and look for evidence. I’d actually recommend you don’t do that…sewers tend to smell and are generally unpleasant.
Who Attends The Final Walk Through?
For a final walk through, you should expect the actual buyers of the property and their real estate agent. It’s rather odd if the seller is at the house unless arrangements have been made ahead of time. This isn’t the time to be bringing family and friends over. Save those wonderful moments for when you actually close on the property.
Final Walk Through Problems
What happens if you have a problem at the walk through? In St. Louis, we have a walk through notice that we would use to alert the listing agent of any problems in the walk through. The vast majority of the time, the sellers makes the repairs and everything is fine. I’ve had instances where there’s a long list of repairs and the handyman missed something. These things happen.
Final Walk Through As A Seller
If you are selling your home, the final walk through by the buyers can be a nerve-racking experience. Here you are, selling your home, possibly coordinating a move to a new one, and you have the buyers that need to schedule 2 or so hours where you can’t be working on that move. I get it. Usually the buyer’s agent gets it too. If you’ve completed the repairs and you have a good handle on the move, you’re going to be fine. If you’ve procrastinated to the point of pulling all nighters to move out before closing, you’re probably going to be miserable. At this point, you just have to work through it.
If you do happen to get a walk through notice from the buyers that indicate work still needs to be complete, don’t panic. Use your experienced real estate agent here. Ask them if they know someone who can get it done. You’ve be surprised how quickly real estate agents can get something completed in an emergency like this. It’s like their commission depends on it. (it does)
Final Walk Through Day Of Closing
I have no idea why you would want to schedule your final walk through the day of closing. For one, if something isn’t fixed by then, it’s highly unlikely to be fixed by closing. Also, it’s entirely plausible that the sellers have scheduled the movers for the morning of closing. Walking through the house while movers and sellers are rushing to get out is a recipe for disaster. Avoid scheduling a final walk through the day of closing.