In this article:
An exciting moment for any homebuyer is the final walkthrough when buying a home. When you get to this stage, you’re in the homestretch and the end of a stressful but rewarding process is within reach. As tempting as it may be to rush through this final step, it’s important to be methodical during the final walkthrough as this is your last chance to catch any issues in the home before closing.
Keep reading to learn more about the things to look for in a final home walkthrough and to gain insight into why the process is so important.
What is a final walkthrough?
Final walkthroughs are an important part of the home buying process, as they give buyers the chance to inspect the home one final time before they officially close on the sale. During a final walkthrough the buyer and their real estate agent gain access to the home and have the chance to go through each room of the house to inspect it.
The buyer and their real estate agent will confirm that everything in the home is in the same (or better) condition than the last time they visited the home. They also confirm that the seller has left everything included in the contract in the home such as light or window fixtures. If the seller needed to make repairs to the home before closing day, the buyer confirms those repairs are complete at the final walkthrough.
Buyers will want to make sure their real estate agent attends the final walkthrough with them as they will have a better idea of what to look for during this process, and will help the buyer navigate next steps if something is amiss.
More often than not, you will do a walkthrough once the seller moves out of the home. If they haven’t moved out yet, they may be present for the walkthrough. If this is the case, the seller’s real estate agent may also attend.
Note: The last walkthrough is not the time to raise any new issues that weren’t outlined in the sale contract. This is simply a time to make sure the seller met all expectations surrounding the home's condition. It’s helpful to bring your finalized contract with you so you can cross reference what changes the seller should have already made and what items should remain in the home
You can expect a final walkthrough to take 30 minutes to a few hours. How large the home is and what issues you encounter can extend the timeline.
Things to look for during a final walkthrough
While everything may seem above board at first glance, you should look carefully for the following things that may be amiss:
Again: It’s important to make sure any repairs included in your contract are complete and up to snuff. Bring a copy of your inspection report and final offer letter with you, as well as your contract, to make sure you don’t overlook any repairs. Now is also a good time to request any warranties or repair receipts for any work done on the home.
Alongside making sure any agreed-upon appliances, shelving, light fixtures, and window fixtures remain in the home, you will also want to check that the seller didn’t leave behind any personal effects they should have taken with them. Don’t forget to take a peek at the garage, attic, basement, garden shed, and any closets to make sure the seller didn’t leave anything behind. The last thing you want to deal with after you move in is removing someone’s unwanted belongings from your home.
Mold and pests
Even though the inspector would likely find any signs of mold during the inspection process, it can appear in the home after the inspection if a leak or other moisture heavy event occurred. Double check moist areas in the home like bathrooms and the cabinets under kitchen sinks for new signs of mold just in case.
Pests like bugs or vermin may also move in between your inspection and the final walkthrough. Look for signs of ants, rodents, and termites in the home to make sure you don’t have unwanted roommates on move in day.
Locks and windows
Another safety precaution worth taking is confirming that all windows and doors unlock and lock correctly. Take a close look to make sure doors and windows don’t stick (which may be a major hazard in the event of a fire) and take note of any tears in window screens. If there are any window, door, or lock issues, you will want to repair those before moving in.
Just because an appliance is in the home when you show up for your final walkthrough doesn’t mean that it works. Run the dishwasher, washing machine, and dryer for a cycle (if possible add in a dirty dish or towel to confirm the appliances are effective) and test the garage door, garbage disposal, and other appliances in the home. You should also spend a few minutes running water through the drains in the home to make sure none of them clog.
If the home has central air or heating, run both systems to see if the home heats and cools properly. Any alarm systems are also worth checking.
A handy thing to bring with you to your final walkthrough is a phone charger. Not only can you charge your phone if it starts to die (you may be in the home for hours), but you can also use it to check that all outlets in the home are working. As tedious as it may sound, plugging a charger into every outlet in the home can confirm if larger electrical problems are waiting for you. If one outlet in the home doesn’t work, that can mean there is a problem with the electrical system — which can affect all outlets.
Don’t forget to inspect the outside of the home in addition to the inside. Take some time to walk around the front yard and the backyard to ensure that the landscaping is in order. Some sellers dig up plants and trees to sell or take with them when they move and you may find your landscaping looks different than you thought it would. Check that the gates and their locks all work, as well as any sprinkler systems and outdoor lighting. If the home comes with a pool it’s a good idea to give it one final look over to confirm there aren’t any signs of mold, mildew, or damage to the pool.
Next steps when something is wrong
In an ideal world, you will breeze through your final walkthrough with nary a problem in sight. If a problem does arise, you have the following options:
- Ask the seller to make the repair before you close. You can even choose to delay the closing so the seller has more time to fix the issue.
- Withhold money from the seller’s proceeds. It’s possible to come to an agreement with the seller to withhold some money in an escrow account to pay for the repairs or to replace missing fixtures and appliances yourself after the closing.
- Walk away from the sale. If major repairs are necessary and the seller refuses to repair them, you have the option to walk away from the sale.
Remember, your real estate agent will be there to help you navigate any issues that arise during the final walkthrough. This is yet another reason it’s so valuable to have a top real estate agent on your side when it’s time to look for a home.