As a home buyer, you have a lot of tasks to accomplish before the day that you can finally call a new home yours. And while it may have seemed like shopping around to find your dream home was the most important part of the buying process, it’s actually the stuff you do after you make your offer that really helps you ensure you make a smart decision—both for your family and for your finances. The home inspection is a major one of these tasks, as is your new home walk through.
The walk through is your last opportunity to assess the property you’re intending to purchase and guarantee that everything is exactly how you want it. After you sign that stack of paperwork on closing day, there will be no more back-and-forths with the seller and no more opportunities to negotiate costs or repairs. It’s crucial then that you’re incredibly thorough during your final new home walk through—you don’t want to stumble upon something you would have liked to be changed only to realize that, because you’re now the homeowner, a problem that would have been someone else’s job to take care of is actually your job.
Key to making sure you get the most value possible out of your new home walk through is to go in prepared. Read on for eight questions that will help guide you through the walk through process so that you can be sure your home is move-in ready.
Have all requested repairs been made?
If you requested any repairs during the home inspection then now is the time to make sure that (a) all of the repairs were in fact made, and (b) that they match your expectations. While it’s not always the case, some sellers will try to save money by tackling repair requests on their own or by bringing in cheap service providers. Verify that any necessary fixes are up to par so that you won’t need to pay for additional work on something that should have already been taken care of.
Did the seller leave behind all warranties and maintenance guides?
When you buy a new home, you’re not just buying the structure—you’re also (usually) buying all of the appliances within it. And just as you would need proper documentation on warranties and how to operate and maintain a new appliance, you’re also going to want that information for older appliances. The same goes for any installed features that are still under warranty, such as decks, windows, or landscaping, if applicable. The seller should have left you a stack of the warranties and maintenance guides you’ll need as the new homeowner, but if you can’t find it—or if it’s missing something that you think should be there—go ahead and note that so you can ask for what you need.
Is everything included in the sale present in the home?
When you negotiated your final purchase contract you came to an agreement with the seller about what would and would not be included in the sale. Now that you’re at the final walk through, it’s time to double check that nothing is missing—including wall and lighting fixtures, blinds, appliances, and anything else that you and the seller agreed would come with the home. Likewise, everything that’s not included in the sale should be out of the home, since the seller will have already moved out.
Does everything work?
You already checked all of the home’s systems and appliances during your inspection, but it’s a good idea to check them one more time during the final walk through. As you make your way through the property, turn all light switches on and off, check the AC, look to see how sinks drain (and check them for hot water), and so on. It’s a good idea to bring a phone charger with you as well so that you can test each of the outlets, indoor and outdoor. You still have a chance to make repair requests at this point, so verify that everything is in working order.
Is the home clean?
As a home buyer, you have a reasonable expectation that the property you’re purchasing is free of things like dirt, debris, mold, and pests. You’re still going to want to plan to do a new home deep clean after you move in, but it shouldn’t be any more intense then a standard spring cleaning. Look at the floors, walls, and ceilings of each room, inside cabinets, behind appliances, and anywhere else that you might expect to find dirt or water. Spend some time in each of the bathrooms too inspecting for any water damage or mold.
Do all of the windows and doors work?
Sometimes during a new home walk through buyers get so distracted with checking the big things that they neglect to make sure all basic features of the home are in working order. So while it might seem like busy work to check that each window and door opens, closes, and locks properly, it’s always worth doing. Just as you did during the inspection, check the windows one more time for any moisture build up between the panes, too. It’s possible that different weather conditions could make apparent a problem that you wouldn’t have noticed before.
Is the lawn in good condition?
It’s just as important to pay attention to the exterior features of your new home as the interior features. Take a walk around the property to ensure that lawn maintenance was kept up to date during the closing period, including that grass was cut (depending on the time of year) and that there are no areas of standing water. And just as you verified inside that everything that was to be included in the sale is present, check that the seller did not remove any trees, bushes, or other plants that were supposed to have been included.
Is all my furniture going to fit?
Okay, so you won’t have any recourse with the seller if you measure the living room during your final walk through and determine that your current couch is too big to fit. But still, the walk through is a good time to answer any general questions about the property that you need or want to know before moving day. Feel free to bring in a measuring tape and write down the dimensions of each room, though do be careful not to leave any damaging marks (sorry, you can’t test out pain swatches on the wall just yet).
What if you find a problem during your new home walk through?
Ideally, your new home walk through is going to go off without a hitch and you’ll end the process feeling excited instead of worried. But if you do find an issue, you’re going to want to act sooner rather than later.
Keep in mind that finding an issue at the final walk through does not necessarily mean the sale is going to fall through. You may just have to delay your closing date for a bit while you head back to the negotiation table and get any additional requests taken care of. You’ll have your real estate agent with you during the walk through, so they can help you navigate these next steps. Generally, it will involve going back to the seller’s agent with a description of the issues and the relevant points in the contract that they contradict.
In the event that the home needs work or repairs, your closing will typically be put on hold while the seller takes care of them. The purchase price may be reduced to accommodate these costs.
Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want, provided it’s reasonable under your contract. Remember, your new home walk through is your last chance to make any requests of the seller. It’s better to delay closing for a little while and get any issues taken care of then to rush forward and move into a less than ideal home.
Always make sure you have your agent, your contract, and your inspection report with you when you go through the property for your final walk through. That way, you can avoid making any complaints that aren’t supported by the documentation, and you can also have an expert by your side who’s been through the walk through process many times before and can help you do it as efficiently and effectively as possible.