Before you seal the deal on your real estate contract, you’ll want to do one last thing after all is said and done – perform a final walk-through of the home. Anything can happen from the day you visit the home to closing. A final walk-through is extremely important for buyers to identify any issues that go against the contract. If there are any, they could delay closing or crush the deal completely.
Here are a few final walk-through issues that can derail your real estate transaction.
There’s Still Stuff Left Behind
On the day of your final walk-through, you expect the place to be totally cleared out of all the seller’s belongings. You don’t want to move into your new place only to find out the seller has left a few remnants behind, leaving you to have to get rid of them yourself.
Whether it’s some furniture, knick-knacks, tools, or even garbage, any items left behind can cause closing to be delayed until the seller gets rid of them. In fact, this is one of the more common issues that buyers encounter during their final walk-throughs that have delayed closings and even derailed deals altogether.
Items Included in the Deal Are Gone
While finding some of the seller’s belongings at the final walk-through is annoying, the opposite is also true if the agreement specified that certain items were to be left behind. If you expected the washer and dryer to remain on the property after you take possession, for instance, and find that they’ve been removed, that can definitely be cause for dispute.
Fixtures are typically left on the premises unless they’ve been negotiated otherwise between the buyer and seller. Other items that are not fixtures can also be negotiated in the contract if the buyer wants them and the seller is willing to leave them behind. If these items are taken contrary to what the agreement stipulates, there could be a big problem.
Sellers should always go through the purchase agreement with their real estate agents before taking anything with them, and it’s also advised that buyers look over the contract for personal property that is to be left behind and take that document with them to the final walk-through to ensure the listed items are still there.
Seller Didn’t Make Any Negotiated Repairs
The majority of buyers include a home inspection contingency in their real estate contracts to give them a chance to uncover any potential issues with the home before they commit to buying it. Many times, inspectors do find issues, whether major or minor. Should issues be discovered, buyers may choose to renegotiate with the seller to either have the price reduced to reflect the cost associated with making the repairs, or have the sellers make these repairs themselves before buyers take possession.
If the buyer and seller agree to the latter, it would be very disheartening to see that none of the agreed-upon repairs were made at the final walk-through. Whether the seller simply forgot or hoped that the buyer would forget about them, such a situation can cause a squabble.
Appliances and Major Systems Aren’t Working
It would be pretty surprising to find that the air conditioner suddenly doesn’t work or the washer no longer functions at the final walk-through, despite verifying that they were operating just fine at the previous visit.
One of the more important things to look for at the final walk-through are issues with the HVAC system, electrical system, plumbing system, and all appliances, especially if they showed no signs of being faulty before. If these items are not working properly, this issue needs to be addressed right away before signing off on the deal.
The Flooring is Faded
After years of furniture sitting in the same spot on the floor for years without any exposure to sun, it’s easy to spot the obvious differences compared to the areas that have not been covered. Only after furniture has been removed are these issues noticed. Buyers won’t usually see this during their initial walk-throughs since the seller’s pieces are usually not shuffled around.
As a result, the final walk-through of the now-vacant home will show these noticeable color differences on the floors. There may even be stains underneath these spots that were never noticed before by either the buyer or the seller. Buyers can get turned off by such findings, especially if the furniture arrangement they have in mind will not adequately camouflage these faded spots.
The Walls Are Damaged
Once all wall art, light fixtures, TV mounts, and other items that have been fastened to the wall have been removed, they will likely leave behind gaping holes in the walls that will need to be patched up. It’s important for buyers to include a contingency in the contract that would require the seller to make the necessary repairs to the walls after such items have been taken down and leave the walls a clean slate.
Walls can become damaged even during the actual move when the seller’s movers are carrying large pieces of furniture out of the house. There’s always the chance that something will come in contact with the walls during such a task, especially when turning corners or going through doorways. It’s not uncommon for there to be scratches, dings, and dents on the wall after the movers have removed all items from the premises. The question is, who will be responsible for repairing such blemishes?
The Home is Filthy
Most real estate contracts include some sort of information about the condition that the home is to be left in. Usually, homes are to be left in “broom-clean condition” before buyers take possession.
Unfortunately, there are times when sellers leave their homes in total disarray, with floors covered in debris, counters covered in dust, and even garbage piled in corners. While the home doesn’t necessarily have to be completely spotless by the time of the final walk-through, a home that’s completely filthy will just cause problems between the buyer and seller and delay closing.
The Bottom Line
All sorts of issues can present themselves from the day your offer is accepted to closing, no matter how short that time frame is. In order to protect yourself as a buyer, it’s important that you take advantage of the final walk-through to identify any problems that did not present themselves the last time you visited the property. If you discover any of the above, your real estate agent will help you go back to the negotiating table to resolve them.