Too often, home buyers skip the final walkthrough of their new home. They may let their real estate agent do it or not bother with it at all.
It’s crucial to do a final walkthrough as close to the closing as possible – preferably after the seller has already moved out. A lot can happen between the time you saw the home before you placed an offer, the inspector submitted their report and the closing. If something became damaged and you don’t notice it until you move in, you could be on the hook for it as the new owner.
What should you look for?
If the seller agreed to have anything repaired, make sure those repairs were completed. Have a list of the items to be repaired and check them off as you go through the home.
Make sure the sellers didn’t take anything they shouldn’t have. Typically, anything bolted to the wall or ceiling remains with the house. If there’s a hole where a chandelier or ceiling fan used to be, that’s a problem.
Be sure there’s been no new damage. Sometimes on their way out, sellers (and their movers) can get careless. If there are large dents in the doorways or tears in the carpet that wasn’t there before, you have a right to ask that those be repaired or get money to have it done yourself.
Look at areas that were covered before. Sometimes furniture hides bleach stains in carpets or holes in walls. The sellers may have even forgotten about them. However, that doesn’t relieve them of responsibility for their repair if they notice them as they’re moving out.
If you’re buying a single-family house, look around outside. Make sure there’s been no vandalism or other damage – especially if it’s been empty for a while.
What if you find damage or other issues?
If you find issues that require repair or if your negotiated repairs weren’t made, you can delay the closing until they are or the seller gives you the money needed to take care of them. There are other options if a seller refuses to cover repairs or missing items, such as an escrow holdback, that will get the seller’s attention.
If you and your agent aren’t making any headway with a seller who refuses to make things right, it may be wise to seek legal guidance to protect your rights as a buyer.