As the name indicates, a final walk-through is one of the last tasks that homebuyers need to complete before closing on their home. However, it's also a critically important step in the homebuying process that shouldn't be overlooked. Whether you’re purchasing a new or resale home, the final walk-through ensures the state and condition of the home aligns with the agreement set out in the homebuying contract.
Before signing the closing papers to officially gain ownership of the home, buyers take a final walk-through to make sure the property meets their expectations. Typically, buyers and their real estate agent attend a final walk-through together, although home inspectors, sellers, and the sellers’ agents can also be present in some cases.
During the final walk-through, homebuyers can make sure that the home reflects the agreed-upon condition for the sale. Buyers can confirm that any requested maintenance or repairs have been completed, that the appliances and systems function properly, and that the condition of the home meets the agreement outlined in the contract.
By having a final walk-through checklist, savvy homebuyers can come prepared for the final walk-through, ready to address any specific concerns or important considerations. Before closing on your home, take a careful look at the considerations described in this final walk-through checklist.
What to Bring to a Final Walk-Through
In order to make sure that you're fully prepared for your final walk-through, you should keep in mind the materials you need to bring with you to successfully complete the process. First and foremost, you should bring your homebuying contract that details your final offer. The contract describes what should and should not come with the house, such as appliances, fixtures, and anything else that you want to be included in the sale of the house.
In addition to the contract, bring a list of any repairs and remodels that the seller agreed to take care of before the final sale of the home. These items should be outlined in the contract, but having your own list can remind you to double-check that everything has been appropriately repaired by the seller.
Some other items you should bring with you include a notepad, your phone, and some sort of small electrical device. The notepad will allow you to write down any questions or concerns that might come up during your walk-through. You can also take notes on your phone, which also serves as a camera to photograph anything you may want to bring to the seller’s attention. Finally, a small electronic device such as a phone charger or light will allow you to check to make sure all of the electrical outlets in the home are operational.
Final Walk-Through Checklist
1. Approve All Maintenance and Repairs
In the process of buying your new home, it’s likely that the seller agreed to make certain repairs or renovations before you gain ownership of the home. These maintenance tasks are often a result of a home inspector finding code violations or safety concerns within the home, and these problems can often be used as negotiation tools when buying a home.
During your final walk-through, make sure to have a list of these agreed-upon repairs on-hand in order to double-check that they were completed by the seller. If you or your real estate agent notice any repairs that do not meet your standards or adhere to the contract, these items can be further addressed before closing on the home to ensure that the home meets your needs.
2. Test the Electrical System
Before closing on the home, take the opportunity to thoroughly check the electrical system and wiring throughout the property. Given that unknown problems in the electrical system can lead to costly repairs in the future, it’s worthwhile to identify and address these problems as early as possible in the homebuying process.
Check to make sure all of the light switches in the home function properly, including closets and outdoor lights. Use the small electrical device that you brought with to ensure that all of the outlets work and that they are undamaged. You should also check electrical devices such as garage door openers, ceiling fans, and bathroom fans.
The electrical systems also include the proper functioning of the heating and air conditioning. No matter the season, try to turn on both the heating and cooling by setting the thermostat to a warm and a cool temperature. Feel whether the appropriate temperature flows from the vents on each floor of the home. The systems and units, along with the thermostat itself, should be in working order, or at least in the expected condition.
Note that any issues with a home’s major systems, including electrical and plumbing, can occur over time when a home sits vacant for a period of time before the sale. As such, a final walk-through allows buyers to make sure major issues didn't arise while negotiating the sale of the home.
3. Inspect the Kitchen
A close inspection of the kitchen can provide insight into larger issues or potential problems in a home. While testing all of the appliances, outlets, and alarms, make sure that the oven and stove turn on and heat up without any smells of gas. Confirm that faucets turn on and off and the water drains properly. Check whether the refrigerator and freezer seem in working order. During a final walk-through, buyers should check all of the appliances throughout the home, though most of them appear in the kitchen.
Further, look for any signs of water damage or mold. Check under the sink, around the refrigerator, and near the dishwasher for any leaks or early signs of damage. The kitchen is also one of the common areas where signs of pests can appear, so take note of any worrisome indications of unwelcome pests in the home. It’s best to catch any signs of a problem before closing so that these issues can be addressed in collaboration with the seller.
4. Examine the Bathrooms
There are many factors to consider when inspecting the bathrooms for the last time before you become the owner of a home. Primarily, check to make sure the faucets in the sinks, tubs, and showers function properly with decent water pressure and that they are receiving both hot and cold water.
In order to check for warning signs of any major problems down the line, look for any visible cracks or crevices around the outside perimeter of the shower or toilet that would need to be caulked and sealed. Speaking of the toilet, make sure that it flushes and refills properly and that none of its parts are broken or degraded.
5. Take an Outdoor Tour
The final walk-through includes more than just the interior of the home you’re buying. You should also be sure to inspect the exterior of your home to check that repairs have been made and there aren't any glaring issues. The roof, gutters, driveway, and landscaping should all reflect the condition agreed upon in the homebuying contract.
During the walk-through, traverse the entire property and inspect the grounds. Check the yard, gardens, natural wooded areas, and everywhere else that's included within the property line to make sure there's nothing there that should not be there. You might even look inside the mailbox or ring the doorbell.
Walk-Throughs and New Construction Homes
If you've purchased a new construction home or built a home from scratch, you may think that an official final walk-through may not be all that important. After all, you have already designed your new home to be exactly how you want it. However, a final walk-through and inspection is just as important for a new construction home as it is for a resale home. The builders, contractors, and developers that built your new home may have made mistakes or forgot to make certain adjustments in the final stages of construction, and any issues should be addressed before signing any final paperwork.
During a final walk-through in a new construction home, the general guidelines provided by this final walk-through checklist still apply. In addition, bring the blueprints and home inspection reports as well as any questions or concerns you have for the builder. The walk-through represents one of the best opportunities to address builders directly. As a buyer of a new home, you may want to further explore whether or not you need a home inspection for a new construction home.
The importance and value of a final walk-through before closing on a home cannot be overstated. During a final walk-through, buyers can ensure that the home meets all of their needs, expectations, and agreed-upon guidelines outlined in the official contract.
After a final walk-through, buyers have another opportunity to present any known issues to the seller and negotiate a way to fix these problems. Buyers may also gain a better idea about future renovations or repairs they need to make in the future. In the best-case scenario, homebuyers walk out of a final walk-through feeling confident about the future and ready to sign the contract and gain ownership of the home. Regardless of the specifics, wise and careful homebuyers follow a final walk-through checklist before closing on their home.