What to Look for in the Final Walkthrough Before Closing

Keep the home buying process headache-free by looking for these essential things during your final walkthrough.

One of the last things you do before a home is officially yours is the final walkthrough. This is the point in the sale process when you get to have one last look at the property you're about to purchase. It's a pivotal time in the home purchasing process, because once you sign the paperwork, you can't go back to the seller with additional questions or repair requests.

"A final walkthrough isn't required, it's just a really, really good idea," says Polly Watts of real estate brokerage service Sundae.

Making the most of that final walkthrough is critical, and these real estate experts have some tips on what to look for and what to ask as you do a final sweep of your new digs.

House with for sale sign
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What Is a Final Walkthrough?

If you've purchased a home, you're likely familiar with the process of attending a showing (or viewing photos online), putting in an offer, then having an inspection done. The final walkthrough is the near-final step in the process, when you walk through the home (even briefly) to confirm that everything is as agreed. The inspection is even more important, though.

A home inspection is the buyer's opportunity to have a professional check the home for necessary repairs so the buyer can negotiate those fixes before buying the home. It's also a crucial step that allows a buyer to back out if they find something in the inspection that gives them cold feet. (Think a cracked foundation or a serious mold issue.)

"Typically, you'll go into a transaction and you'll have a home inspection," Watts says. "The final walkthrough doesn't replace that, but what a final walkthrough does is give you a last look before closing on your property."

The final walkthrough happens well after the inspection, once you're ready to sign paperwork.

"It's really a chance to make sure the property is in as good or better condition as it was when you saw it," Watts says. "Closing can take 30 to 45 days and a lot can change in that time."

Typically, a walkthrough for an average-size house will take about 30 minutes, but a seller will give you more time if necessary, especially for a larger home.

In many states, a final walkthrough can happen the day of closing or a few days before. It depends on where you live.

"In some states, [closing] can happen within hours of a final walkthrough," Watts says.

It's important that you bring your realtor along for the final walkthrough.

"They're kind of a second pair of eyes to see and check things," Watts says.

What to Look for During the Final Walkthrough

There are three things to consider as you do your final walkthrough, according to Misty Soldwisch, broker and owner at Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Innovations: whether repairs were made following your inspection of the home; the current condition of the home; and the presence of appliances and personal belongings in the home.

"It is the final verification that you are purchasing the home in the status expected to meet the terms of the purchase agreement," Soldwisch says.

In most cases, you will have checked in on repairs as part of the inspection. If you notice a fridge is missing when it was promised in the sale, you can note that. Additionally, if a seller agreed to leave certain furniture, window treatments, chandeliers etc., now is the time to check for those.

"If the sellers didn't leave what they said, it could delay or even cancel the closing," says Randy Kennedy, a realtor at Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Fine Living. "For instance, sometimes the seller will want to keep that nice, fancy refrigerator and replace it with a lesser model. It's critical to make sure the items that were contracted to stay there are there."

It's also possible that the seller has moved out but left behind some junk in the garage, attic, or home itself. You can ask for that to be removed at this point, as well.

As for checking the condition of the home, Dana Hall-Bradley, owner at Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Fine Living in Celebration, Florida, has some suggestions:

  • Check for any leaks, flush all the toilets, turn on water faucets, turn on all the appliances, turn on the washer and dryer
  • Check to make sure the air conditioning is properly cooling or heating, and the air handler is not leaking
  • Open and close the windows and doors to make sure they're working properly
  • If the home has a pool, check all the pool equipment is working properly
  • if the home has an automatic garage door opener, open and close the garage door and to confirm the remotes were left in the home.

Watts says this is also a good time to ask the seller or their realtor for some tips and tricks for the property if they're on site at the time of the final walkthrough. Maybe one of your doors has a unique lock, or an appliance or alarm system operates in a funny way.

"With tech these days, it's not always straightforward," Watts says.

After the Final Walkthrough

If during your final walkthrough you realize that something wasn't fixed according to your contingencies, or that new damage has occurred, now is the time to address it.

Watts typically suggests asking for a credit at closing in both cases, because at this stage in the process, there isn't much time left to fix those things before closing.

"Hopefully it's nothing major, but if it's damage to a window, for example, a credit through escrow is the easiest way," she says.

If everything looks good with your final walkthrough, you can sign final paperwork with the confidence that the home is to your liking.

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