Think the final walk-through is a waste of time? Skipping it could cost you!
I recently had a Home Seller client who was threatened with the loss of a deposit. I say threatened rather than ‘at risk’ because one very important procedure was ignored. Here’s the scenario. The Seller’s home was sold, closed and recorded. Because the home Seller’s move would be delayed we had previously negotiated a lease-back. The Sellers would be staying in the home and renting it back from the Buyers for a month after closing. After the Sellers had moved out, the Buyers demanded that the security deposit be handed over to the Buyer due to a faulty appliance. A little background… the appliance was already damaged prior to the time of sale. In fact, it was damaged, and noted, prior to my listing the home. Here’s the thing, the Buyer never did a walk through. Not at the time of sale, and not at the end of the month-long lease. They did not have a leg to stand on. After a week or so of verbal exchange with the Title Company, and debate with the Buyer, it was determined that the Home Seller was in no way liable and the security deposit was rightfully returned to the Seller.
I’ve seen Home Buyers completely ignore their final walk-through. None of them were my Buyer clients. This is not just the next place you will live, it is a considerable financial investment. If it’s absolutely impossible for a home buyer to attend, they need to assign a trusted relative or friend to be there in their absence. I as an agent, will never assume responsibility for the Final Walk-Through, I believe it is that important. As with a home inspection, omitting the final walk-through can and often does come back to bite you at a later date.
In the article below, Barbara Pronin accurately describes the Buyer Agent’s role in the final walk-through process, the importance of this deceptively simple procedure, a few potential pitfalls and how those issues might be successfully resolved.
The Final Walk-Through: Issues and Resolutions
By Barbara Pronin
As the buyer’s agent, you’ve seen the transaction through a few bumps in the road—perhaps a bidding war, disagreements over terms or a glitch in loan approval. But now the deal is close to closing and one more hurdle remains: bringing in your buyers for what you hope will be an uneventful walk-through.
You’ve taken the time to explain beforehand that the walk-through is not a home inspection. That has been done by professionals. Your purpose now is to check that any needed repairs have been completed, and that the condition of the home has not materially changed since the time the contract was signed.
You’ve prepared your buyers with a basic checklist of what to bring and what to check. The list should look something like this:
- Bring a copy of the contract, the seller’s property disclosure form, and the home inspection report. Check to see that all flagged items have been repaired, replaced, removed or left on site as agreed.
- Check the heating and air conditioning systems.
- Turn on the dishwasher and major appliances left behind.
- Turn lights and fixtures on and off.
- Open and close all doors and windows.
- Run the garbage disposal, flush the toilets, and briefly turn on the faucets. Check for leaks or water under sinks.
- Test the garage door opener.
- Test the sprinklers
- Check storage areas for paint cans other unwanted items left behind.
- Make a visual check of the roof, landscaping, and grounds.
Typically, a home is expected to be left in clean condition. But be prepared that unless the home was purchased vacant, it may now look different to the buyers. Flaws in the paint or stains in the carpet are much more readily noticed. Minor damages may have occurred when the sellers were moving out.
Experienced agents maintain a list of trusted handy men and vendors. Rather than deal with dissapointed buyers or delay the closing, some agents will offer a referral to a reasonable, reliable repair person.
If the problem is more serious – a missing chandelier that should have been left, or a leak in the plumbing or sprinkler system – it is your responsibility to at least point out the problem so that the buyer can address it. Work with your buyers to determine which issues are worth pursuing and which can be resolved without undue burden.
Handing over the keys to a happy buyer is one of the joys of your job. Managing a timely and productive final walk-through is one of the last steps to making that happen.
For more information, Call or Text: 602-999-0952
Bill Salvatore / Arizona Elite Properties
Residential Sales, Marketing, and Property Management
Barbara Pronin is an award-winning writer based in Orange County, Calif. A former news editor with more than 30 years of experience in journalism and corporate communications, she has specialized in real estate topics for over a decade. Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2017. All rights reserved.
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More Resources for Home Sellers and Home Buyers
Our Buyer’s FAQ page has 9 of the most frequently asked questions from Home Buyers, along with 10 additional resources for Home Buyers at the bottom of the page.
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Thinking of Selling your home? First check out our 9 FAQs for Sellers. Then read on, there are 9 additional resources for Home Sellers at the bottom of the page.