Final Walk-Through Checklist: What to Look For Right Before Closing on a Home

Homebuying Final Walkthrough ChecklistEmbarking on the journey of purchasing a home is exhilarating, but it's vital to cross every 't' and dot every 'i' before you reach the finish line.

The final walk-through is a crucial step in this process. It's the last chance to ensure everything in your new home is in the condition you expect before the closing date.

This comprehensive final walk-through checklist will guide you through this important task, ensuring nothing slips through the cracks.

For informational purposes only. Always consult with a licensed real estate professional before proceeding with any real estate transaction.

Understanding the Final Walk-Through

Let's take a moment to outline the why, when, and who of the final walk-through.

Why is the Final Walk-Through So Important?

  • Verification Beyond the Seller's Word: The final walk-through lets you confirm the property's condition firsthand rather than relying solely on other people's judgements.
  • Checking for Required Repairs: This is the time to ensure the seller has completed any agreed-upon repairs identified during your initial home viewing and later home inspections. Don't hesitate to test appliances, like ensuring the oven heats up or the garbage disposal operates.
  • Observing Unseen Details: Look for subtle signs of issues that may have cropped up since the seller vacated the home, such as signs of pests.

Timing and Who Attends

The final inspection typically occurs within a few days of the closing date, or even the day of. This timing ensures that no new issues can crop up between the walk-through and the closing table. 

Having an experienced agent present is crucial. They can offer guidance, especially on aspects like verifying that repairs meet the standards agreed upon in the sales contract, knowing what receipts to ask for, catching anything you might miss, and handling documentation. They've done this far more often than you have; take advantage of their experience! While not always necessary, sometimes the seller or their agent might attend to address any immediate concerns or questions.

This final inspection is a key step in ensuring you make a well-informed decision. It's a safeguard to ensure the property you're investing in is exactly as promised, providing peace of mind as you move forward with the purchase.

Essential Items for the Final Walk-Through

As a home buyer, you must approach the final walk-through with thorough preparation and attention to detail. Let's explore the essential items to bring and the importance of documenting issues during this critical inspection.

What to Bring

  • Final Walk-through Checklist: This list ensures you don't miss any critical areas during your inspection. It should align with the conditions and agreements in the purchase agreement.
  • Home Inspection Report: Refer to this report to verify that the home seller has addressed all inspection repairs and that systems like the HVAC and irrigation are in full cycle and working order.
  • Seller's Disclosure: Double-check any known issues the seller has reported.
  • Repair Receipts: Your agent should request these beforehand to have them during the final walk-through.
  • Purchase Contract: Review this document to confirm all terms, especially those related to certain repairs or conditions the seller agreed to address. It should also note whether things like appliances should or should not be present.
  • Mortgage or Other Loan Documents: If applicable, bring your mortgage documents to ensure all financial aspects align with the property's current state.
  • Phone and Phone Charger: You can take notes and photographs if necessary, but it's also a handy way to check that outlets are functional.

Documenting Issues

Take photos or videos of any problems, particularly in areas where the seller moves out before closing. This documentation is vital for any potential disputes. Pay attention to light switches, exhaust fans, water heaters, and any signs of wear or incomplete work. Even issues like a dirty home can be noted. Don't overlook details like plate covers, gate latches, or sink cabinets. Tell your real estate agent about any issues. They can guide you on addressing these with the seller if needed.

As you prepare for the official closing, remember these steps are not just formalities. They're crucial in ensuring that the property you're about to call home meets your expectations and the terms agreed upon in your contract.

Comprehensive Final Walk-Through Checklist

What to Look For During the Final Walkthrough Before Buying a Home

This final walk-through checklist covers exterior and interior inspections, systems and appliances, and agreed-upon repairs. Each category is essential for a comprehensive evaluation of the property. In many ways, it's similar to your initial home viewing, only now you're also assessing whether repairs have been completed to your satisfaction and any changes that might indicate ongoing issues.

Exterior Inspection

  • House Structure: Besides looking for visible cracks or damage, look for any signs of uneven settling or water damage. Pay special attention to the roof for missing shingles or other signs of wear.
  • Drainage and Landscaping: Ensure gutters and downspouts are properly attached and functioning. Assess the health of plants and trees for signs of disease or pest infestation. Check for proper soil grading around the foundation—you don't want water to be able to pool.
  • Garage and Driveway: Check the smooth operation of the garage door and inspect the driveway for significant cracks or unevenness. Ensure that the garage's interior is empty and in good condition. Make sure the seller left the garage door opener.

Interior Inspection

  • Walls and Floors: Look for any new cracks, water stains, or signs of mould. Don't overlook corners and areas behind furniture. Inspect for any recent painting that might be hiding damages.
  • Ceiling and Light Fixtures: Verify that all light fixtures are secure and that ceiling fans operate without unusual noise or wobbling. Check for any water stains on ceilings, which could indicate leaks.
  • Windows and Doors: Check for drafts, proper sealing, and smooth lock mechanisms. Ensure window screens are free from tears or damage. Test all locks for functionality. If doors and windows "stick," it may be an indication of foundation issues.

Systems and Appliances

  • Heating and Air Conditioning: Test different modes and settings and listen for unusual noises or inefficiencies. Check filters and vents for cleanliness.
  • Plumbing: Besides checking for leaks, run the water to test temperature consistency and drain speed. Inspect under sinks for any signs of leaks or damage.
  • Electrical Systems: In addition to testing outlets and switches, ensure all included appliances are operational and in good condition. Check the circuit breaker for any signs of issues.

Agreed Upon Repairs

  • Verification of Repairs: Confirm that all repairs, especially those related to safety or structural integrity, are complete. Ask for receipts or warranties for any major work, if your agent hasn't already.
  • Quality of Repairs: Inspect the craftsmanship of repairs. Make sure they match the quality and aesthetics of the surrounding areas. Ensure that repairs don't just cover up deeper issues.

Remember, this final walk-through is your opportunity to ensure that everything in your new home aligns with your expectations and the agreements made during the buying process. It's an important step in finalizing your home purchase with confidence.

Final Checks Before Closing

These final checks encompass the property's personal aspects, such as the removal of the seller's belongings and the cleanliness of the home, as well as the legal and financial aspects that underpin the purchase.

Personal Property and Cleanliness

Ensure all items not included in the sale are removed. Occasionally, sellers may leave items behind, assuming they might be useful to you. Clarify these instances beforehand. And while a thorough cleaning isn't always guaranteed, the home should be free of significant dirt and debris. Note any extreme conditions of uncleanliness, as they might need addressing before the final agreement.

Legal and Financial Aspects

Examine all documents for accuracy, especially focusing on the purchase agreement details. Verify that all conditions and clauses are as negotiated. Review your mortgage details with your lender to confirm everything is set for the closing. Ensure any adjustments to the seller's proceeds or closing costs are correctly reflected.

The final checks are typically a formality, but they're a vital step in the homebuying process nonetheless. They safeguard your interests and ensure the transition to your new home is seamless and stress-free.

Preparing for the Closing Day

Closing day is a significant milestone in your journey as a home buyer. It's the day when all your preparation and due diligence culminate in the official transfer of property ownership. Here's what to expect and how to handle any last-minute issues to ensure a smooth closing process.

What to Expect

Anticipate signing many closing documents, including the sales contract, mortgage agreements, and title documents. Your real estate agent or attorney will guide you through each document. You'll have the opportunity to review the final details of the sale, including the final purchase price, mortgage terms, and any applicable warranties or guarantees. Once all documents are signed and the financial transactions are complete, you'll receive the keys to your new home.

Handling Last-Minute Issues

Stay in close contact with your real estate agent, especially if any issues arise during the final walk-through. If there are problems like incomplete repairs or unexpected damage, your agent can negotiate with the seller's agent to resolve these issues, potentially delaying the closing if necessary. In rare cases where significant problems arise, you may need to consult a legal expert to discuss the appropriate course of action.

Being well-prepared for closing day ensures you can confidently and excitedly approach this final step. With the right preparation and a skilled real estate team by your side, you can look forward to a successful and joyful conclusion to your home-buying experience.

Moving Forward to Your New Home with Confidence

The final walk-through is tantalizingly close to the finish line, but don't be tempted to rush it. It's a critical step in ensuring your new home meets your expectations before you sign on the dotted line. As you approach this milestone, remember that your local real estate agents are here to support you every step of the way. Our team of experienced agents is committed to making your home-buying experience in British Columbia as smooth and stress-free as possible.

Whether you're nearing the finish line of your home purchase or just beginning your journey, don't hesitate to reach out to us for personalized service and expert advice. Whether you're interested in a free home valuation or a personalized home search or simply have questions about the process, we're here to help. Contact us today, and let's make your dream home a reality.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is a Pre-Possession Walk-through?

A pre-possession walk-through is the same as the final walk-through: an inspection conducted by the buyer just before taking possession of a property. This walk-through is crucial to ensure that the property's condition matches the terms agreed upon in the purchase contract, including negotiated repairs and modifications.

Who Owns the Items Left Behind in a House After Closing?

Items left behind in a house after closing generally become the new homeowner's property. However, it's important to clarify this in the purchase agreement. If specific items are intended to be excluded from the sale, such as personal belongings or appliances, this should be documented. In cases where items are left unintentionally, it's usually courteous for the new homeowner to contact the previous owner to arrange for their retrieval. The new owner can legally dispose of any items left behind if not claimed.

What Should I Do 2 Weeks Before Closing?

Two weeks before closing, you should focus on finalizing your moving plans and ensuring all paperwork is in order. Contact your moving company to confirm arrangements and begin packing non-essential items. Review your closing documents and mortgage details, and ensure you have the funds ready for closing costs. It's also wise to schedule utilities and services to be transferred to your name from the closing date. Lastly, contact your real estate agent to address any last-minute questions or concerns regarding the closing process.

How Often Do Buyers Back Out at Closing?

Backing out at closing is relatively rare, as most issues are typically resolved before reaching this final stage. However, it can happen due to unforeseen financial issues, significant problems discovered during the final walk-through, or even just cold feet (though this will lose the earnest money deposit). Buyers may also back out if they feel the terms of the sale have not been met or if there's a breach in the contract. Most contracts include contingencies that allow buyers to withdraw under certain conditions without penalty, such as if the mortgage loan isn't approved.

For informational purposes only. Always consult with a licensed real estate professional before proceeding with any real estate transaction.

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