A Comprehensive Guide to the Final Walkthrough Prior to Settlement

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A Comprehensive Guide to the Final Walkthrough Prior to Settlement

Purchasing a home is a monumental decision, both emotionally and financially. Once you’ve made the choice, navigated the negotiation, and signed the paperwork, the last thing you want is a surprise during settlement. This is why the final walkthrough is crucial. It’s your last chance to ensure that the property is in the agreed-upon condition before you take ownership.

1. Purpose of the Final Walkthrough

Before delving into the specifics, it’s essential to understand that the final walkthrough isn’t a home inspection. You’ve likely had a professional home inspection earlier in the buying process. The final walkthrough is to confirm that the property’s condition hasn’t changed since then and that all agreed-upon repairs, if any, have been completed.

2. No New Damages or Marks on Walls

Walls can easily get scuffed or damaged during the moving-out process. Take your time to inspect every room. Check for:

  • New holes from recently removed pictures or shelves.
  • Scratches or dents caused during the moving of furniture.
  • Stains or discolorations.

If you spot any discrepancies, document them with photos and discuss potential remedies with the seller before closing.

3. Items Included in the Contract of Sale

Review the contract and ensure that all items agreed to be left behind are indeed present. This can include:

  • Appliances: Refrigerator, oven, dishwasher, washer, dryer, etc.
  • Light fixtures and ceiling fans.
  • Window treatments: Curtains, blinds, or drapes.
  • Other specifics like a storage shed, fireplace tools, or certain pieces of furniture.

4. Mechanical Systems Functionality

The home’s mechanical systems are integral to its functionality. It’s crucial to test and ensure they’re operating as expected:

  • Heating and Cooling Systems: No matter the season, run both the heater and the air conditioner to confirm they work efficiently.
  • Plumbing: Turn on every tap and flush every toilet. Check under sinks for potential leaks.
  • Electrical System: Switch on all lights, test all outlets with a small appliance or a tester, and ensure there are no electrical anomalies.
  • Appliances: If they come with the house, run a cycle on the dishwasher, turn on the stove burners, and check the refrigerator and freezer’s temperature.

5. Windows and Doors

Ensure that all windows and doors open and close properly. Check for broken seals in double-pane windows, as these can compromise the window’s insulating properties. Locks should also be in good working order for security purposes.

6. Review Repairs

If the home inspection revealed issues and the seller agreed to make repairs, this is the time to review that work. It’s ideal if you have a copy of the receipts from the professionals who did the job. This ensures not just that the repairs were done, but that they were done correctly.

7. General Cleanliness

The property should be handed over in a reasonably clean condition. While a bit of dust is to be expected, especially if the house has been vacant for a while, it shouldn’t be in a state of disarray or excessive dirtiness.

8. Inspect the Exterior

While much of the focus might be on the inside, the home’s exterior is equally important:

  • Check for any signs of new damage to siding, roofing, or windows.
  • Ensure that any outdoor appliances, like a built-in grill or hot tub, are in the agreed-upon condition.
  • Verify that no large debris or trash has been left behind by the movers.

9. Landscaping and Drainage

If your purchase agreement included specifics about landscaping maintenance (e.g., the lawn should be mowed, certain plants or trees should remain), ensure these conditions have been met. Also, if it’s rained recently, it’s an excellent time to see if there are any drainage issues on the property.

10. Utilities

If the utilities have been turned off, arrange for them to be on during your walkthrough. It’s difficult to check many of the items mentioned above without electricity, water, and gas functioning.

11. Final Steps

If everything checks out, you can proceed with peace of mind. However, if you encounter discrepancies:

  • Document: Use your phone or camera to take pictures of any issues.
  • Communicate: Before making any decisions, communicate your findings with your real estate agent. They’ll advise on the best course of action, which may involve negotiating with the seller for repairs, a price reduction, or a delay in closing until issues are addressed.

The final walkthrough is more than a formality. It’s your final assurance that you’re getting precisely what you agreed to. By being thorough and meticulous during this stage, you ensure a smoother transition into your new home, free of unexpected surprises or post-settlement disputes. Remember, this is likely one of the most significant investments you’ll ever make – it’s worth the extra effort to ensure everything is as it should be.

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