Doing the Final Walkthrough: What to Look For

In the process of buying a home, the final walkthrough is one of the last steps to take before you get the keys to your new home. This crucial procedure is organized by your agent about a week before closing and is your final chance to make sure everything is in working condition. This is where you’ll pick up any last-minute problems and get peace of mind about your purchase.

So just what is the purpose of the walkthrough? You are confirming that:

  • The property’s condition hasn’t changed since your last visit.
  • If there are agreed-upon repairs, have these been done?
  • Installed fixtures, fittings and plants haven’t been swapped out.
  • The terms of your contract have been met.

Allow at least an hour for the house walkthrough. In this time, you should be able to conduct an exceptionally comprehensive assessment. A walkthrough can reveal repairs that need to be done that didn’t show before, but if you do the final walkthrough on the same day as closing, there may not be time to get problems fixed.

What you see is what you get

Now is the time to check all major appliances to ensure they are in working condition. You’ll want to check all the basics – plumbing and electrical including:

  • Switching light fixtures on and off.
  • Check all major appliances.
  • Turn heat and/or air conditioning on and off.
  • Run water faucets; look for leaks under sinks.
  • Test the garage door openers.
  • Flush all toilets.
  • Open and close all windows and doors.
  • Do a visual spot-check of ceilings, walls and floors.
  • Switch on the exhaust fans and garbage disposal.

New issues

 In addition to making sure that the house is still there and no damage has occurred, you should check for new issues that may have come up since the last time you viewed the home.

Have there been high winds or bad storms that may have caused leaks, ripped tiles or water damage?

Many industry professionals recommend buyers bring a home inspector with them to check for latent problems, and confirm that repairs have been made as requested and to standard.

After closing, the previous owners are not obliged to fix new damages that may have occurred.

Are you getting what you bought?

Are those high-end fixtures and other items that were present when you first viewed the property still there?  Industry professionals, veterans of many walkthroughs, have had occasions when items have either been missing or switched for cheaper replacements. Check the following for potential swaps:

  • Chandeliers and light fixtures
  • Refrigerators, dishwashers, stoves and other appliances
  • Bathroom and kitchen faucets
  • Locking door knobs on interior doors
  • Strike plates around light switches and power outlets
  • Irrigation systems – lawn, etc.
  • Hoses, tools, pool equipment and other items specified in the contract as being included in the sale
  • Small trees, specimen shrubs and plants (amazingly, these often get dug up and taken)
  • Items that appeared built such as book cases, tables and work benches
  • Smoke alarms

You can protect yourself from unscrupulous changes by taking detailed pictures of the property on the day the contract is signed.  You’ll want a record, especially if there are some high value items and you should include the serial number of the appliances that come with the house.  Compare your photos to what you see on the final walkthrough.

It’s not that unusual for two walk-throughs to be necessary. The first identifies some problems for the buyer, and the second makes sure those concerns were addressed. Have a checklist with you and take your time during your final walkthrough to ensure there are no surprises after the closing.

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