Prudential Fox & Roach Realtors Philadelphia realtors real estate homes for sale

Janis Peterson, GRI, Realtor®

Philadelphia Main Line Homes and Real Estate

Tel:  (610) 642-3744

Fax: (610) 658-0267


Here's Why You Should Take the Final Walk-through
With the closing only days away, there's just one detail left-the walk-through. This final inspection prior to closing allows a homebuyer to reconfirm the condition of the house and property he or she has agreed to purchase. This step includes verifying that requested repairs have been made and that appliances and other items are present or have been removed, depending upon the contract. To guarantee your right to a final walk-through, a provision may need to be added to your sales agreement.

Do Not Assume Anything

A homebuyer typically closes on a property within three months of signing the sales agreement. But much can happen in 90 days, especially on the seller's moving day. Even specifying in the agreement what stays and what goes-namely chandeliers, fixtures, designer drapes, wall-to-wall carpeting, built-ins, outdoor lighting, sheds, and plantings-does not ensure compliance. On moving day the seller may not have a copy of the agreement handy to refer to or may not closely oversee the movers. Stored belongings or debris may be forgotten. For instance, that rusted skeleton of an automobile behind the shed may, because it's out of sight, stay far out of mind.

Occasionally, some sellers may not adhere to the agreement. For anecdotal evidence supporting the necessity of a walk-through, search Internet forums relating to home ownership. Here, disappointed homebuyers regrettably report the results of declining their right to a walk-through or not thoroughly inspecting the house and property.

In one posting, a first-time homebuyer described how the sellers had gone to great lengths-and heights-to hide debris. They had installed a second fence 10 to12 feet inside the original fence, which ran along the back of the property. From the house, only the inner fence was visible. One day a strong windstorm uncovered the second fence, revealing mounds of junk that had been dumped between the two fences. The current owner had to remove the broken fencing and arrange to have the debris carted away.

Timing Is Everything

Take the final walk-through close to the settlement date but allow enough time for the seller to remedy problems. Aim for within seven days of the closing, preferably after the sellers have moved out since damage can occur during the move. Also, it's best to inspect an empty house. Furniture and wall coverings can hide a multitude of sins-from stained or threadbare carpeting to scratched hardwood floors and major cracks in walls.

Leave Nothing Out

Bring someone with you to witness the walk-through, and take along a small appliance to test electrical outlets. As you survey, use your sales agreement as a checklist to verify that things are as they should be. Test everything. Run the washer, dryer, garbage disposal, and dishwasher; flush toilets; turn on faucets and look for leaks. Inspect the house from the bottom up, and make a point to check for forgotten items in the basement, crawl spaces, storage rooms, and attic. In carpeted rooms, focus your attention on areas that had been covered by furniture or other objects. Outside, look through the garage and shed, then walk around the yard and out to the property line.

By taking time now to thoroughly inspect every inch of the house and property, you may eliminate surprises later on. Although this final walk-through doesn't give you the right to walk away from your purchase agreement, it's best to identify problems and negotiate resolutions while you still have leverage.

Oh, No!

You've discovered ugly brown stains on the living room carpet and a leak in the bathroom. Now what? Make your real estate professional aware of your findings immediately. Most sellers want to remedy problems to the buyer's satisfaction. After all, it's in the best interests of both the buyer and the seller to close according to plan. A postponement could be costly: The buyer's locked-in interest rate on the financing may expire, requiring a renegotiation of a new rate; new loan documents would generally incur a "redraw" charge; and the seller may have earmarked the proceeds from this sale for the purchase of a new home.

If some or all the problems are remedied before the closing, insist on a second walk-through. Any remaining items can be dealt with at the table.

Although a preclosing inspection takes time and may be inconvenient, don't decline your right to one. As the Internet forum participants can attest, protecting your interests is time well spent.

"Real Service in Real Estate." For a personal consultation on buying or selling real estate, Janis Peterson, GRI, Realtor® can be reached at (610) 642-3744, e-mail: Prudential Fox & Roach Realtors® is an independently owned and operated member of The Prudential Real Estate Affiliates, Inc.

Return to Janis Peterson, GRI Home Page