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As real estate agents, we’re all very busy, right? But the one thing you do not want to skip is meeting with your buyer clients to do a final walk-through before closing. Even if your buyer thinks it’s unnecessary, this needs to be a priority. When you close on a home, you want your clients to be thrilled with their purchase… and with you! Here’s everything you need to know:
The final walk-through is an important step in the closing process. It’s exactly what it sounds like: the home buyer visits the home prior to closing to ensure that the home they are purchasing is in the same or better condition than it was when the buyers submitted their offer on the property.
Remind your buyers that this is not a home inspection. The purpose is to confirm that repairs were made (if requested), that no damage occurred when the seller moved out and that all systems are still functioning properly. There may be situations where the furnace went out or the refrigerator started leaking after the homeowner moved out and when those issues arise, you can help your client get them addressed prior to closing.
Allowing your buyer clients to go through the home prior to closing will give them some serious peace of mind before they sign on the dotted line on closing day. Even if your buyers are not able to attend the walk-through because they live out of state, we would highly recommend that you schedule a time to go through the home with a trusted representative and/or with your clients using video or facetime.
In most cases, just the home buyer(s) and the real estate agent attend the final walk-through. Ideally, the seller has already moved out of the home, so you can view the entire home without any furnishings or moving boxes.
If the seller isn’t moving out before closing, they may want to be present for the walkthrough before closing and if so, the seller’s agent will also attend.
Depending on the situation, you may also have the home inspector who originally performed the inspection join you to confirm that the repairs were done correctly.
There are two schools of thought on the timing of the final walk-through before closing:
You can see that there are pros and cons for each option. There may be situations where the 24 or 48-hour walk-through works well and others where you need to see the home right before closing. If you aren’t sure which one is best, explain the benefits of each to your buyers and see which one they would prefer doing.
As a real estate agent, your buyers are putting a lot of trust in you. Being organized and doing a thorough walk-through of the home will surely help you get some rave reviews! We highly recommend bringing a copy of the home inspection report, inspection repair amendment, as well as a phone charger, so you can use it to test the outlets. Having the walk-through checklist on a clipboard will also make it easy for your buyer to walk around, make notes, and check things off the list.
Buyers should always try to make sure that homes meet the conditions set forth in the purchase contract. If an issue comes up during a final walkthrough, sellers must work with buyers to find a solution that returns the home to the original condition or compensates the buyer for the repair.
While buyers can back out if they find that the home isn’t up to the condition stipulated in the purchase agreement, their earnest money may be in jeopardy. Backing out after a final walk-through before closing should be a last resort.
Unless something happened to the home in between the home inspection and the walk-through day, home buyers are not able to raise new issues during the final walkthrough. You’ve already worked through the inspection and any contingencies earlier in the process. During the final walkthrough, your job is simply to make sure everything was done according to the previous agreement.
If the buyer didn’t notice a cosmetic issue with the home that had obviously been there for years, they can’t request that it be repaired. If the buyer finds water in the basement or several electrical outlets aren’t working (when they were operational during the home inspection), you can definitely ask the seller to address those issues prior to closing or compensate the buyer for the necessary repairs.
Sometimes you’ll have a seller who is busy getting ready to move and the “house is a mess” or possibly a home seller who knows there might be a new issue with the home may try to object to a walk-through by the buyer. Buyers have a right to inspect their homes before buying them. This right is (usually) written into the purchase agreement. Sellers should be aware that refusing a walk-through could result in the buyers withdrawing and/or suing for damages.
If you want to look like a rock star to your clients, be sure to bring:
Honestly, it depends on the size of the house, your client’s attention to detail, and any issues that may arise. We would estimate blocking at least 30 to 90 minutes to do a detailed, room by room, walkthrough of the home.
In many markets, doing a walkthrough before closing is a common practice and is included in the language in your purchase agreement. If your state does not include the walkthrough contingency, you could add a clause to your original offer. If you don’t include the walkthrough clause in your original offer, but end up requesting that the seller do multiple repairs on the home prior to closing, it may be wise to include a clause in the repair amendment so that all parties acknowledge and agree that the buyer will do a final walk-through prior to closing.
Here are two examples from Law Insider that you could include in your contract, as appropriate:
In many purchase and sale contracts, you’ll see that it requires the seller to leave the home in a “broom swept” condition. This simply means that the entire home should be cleaned out, with countertops wiped down, carpets vacuumed, debris and personal belongings removed. It does not mean that the home will get a deep clean by a professional cleaning service, just that it will be in good condition.
As you can see, there is a lot more involved in a walkthrough than just taking a quick stroll through the home before closing. We hope this will help you be more prepared as a real estate agent and ensure that you have a happy and successful closing day!
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