You may have heard about doing a final walk through of your future home just before the closing, and a lot of people see this as an optional step. Just because it’s optional doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t do it, whether you are buying a new construction or an existing home. If someone is trying to discourage you from making that walk-through, you really need to know why. Remember, any problems you find after the closing are generally not considered the seller’s problem, but yours. Being refused a walk-through is and should be a deal breaker, and here are some reasons why:
- Making sure that agreed-upon repairs and work have been completed. If you are buying new construction, make sure that your home has the features and upgrades that you’ve ordered. For existing construction, make sure that repairs have been made as specified. Check the plumbing by flushing toilets and running faucets, test the AC and heat, and test the outlets for power.
- Making sure that appliances are present and in working order. If your contract says that the washer and dryer, fridge, range, and dishwasher are part of the deal, make sure that they’re present and operational. If you’re buying a new home, you should have the manuals and warrantee cards for your appliances.
- Making sure that the home is being delivered vacant. If you agreed that the home is to be delivered vacant, this is a chance to make sure that there’s not a nasty surprise on moving day.
- Making sure that you’re not being saddled with the seller’s stuff. How would you like to move in and find out you need a dumpster to clean out the basement and attic? Or find a bunch of stuff in the closets and garage. Remember, if you close with that stuff in the house, it’s yours – not theirs.
- Making sure that there is no damage to the home. Staging can cover up some damage, but an empty house tells no lies. A sofa over a warping floor, drywall damage from a badly installed television bracket, and other problems can surface. Remediation can be negotiated, but it has to be settled before you sign the papers.
You should schedule the walk through in the last few days before closing, and Realtor.com recommends ideally 24-48 hours before you go to sign the papers. Bring your agent, and if possible the inspector who did the initial inspection. Take along a checklist, your purchase contract, home inspection report, and the seller’s disclosure – and be a stickler when it comes to the seller meeting the terms of the purchase contract. In the event of a dispute, you may need to make some judgment calls and even engage in last minute negotiations. Remember, if the contract has not been fulfilled and the seller is in breach of your agreement, you do not have to complete the closing – but some things are negotiable.