It is a day or so prior to the closing and you’re on the way to your final walk-through. What is the purpose of this visit? What should you look for? What can you do?
I have not used a “checklist” for the final walk-through with my buyer clients and I’m not particularly fond of the ones that I’ve seen online. (There are numerous ones available from many popular resources.) Most of these checklists are laid out like a re-inspection plan, but that has already been done – the buyer has already had their inspection/due diligence period and many/most of the “final walk-through checklist” items are things that already should have been addressed if there was a problem at the time.
So, based on the language of the agreements we typically use, the final walk-through is not a new opportunity to re-open negotiations, but it is an important step to verify that:
- Terms: The terms of the agreement(s) have been met. Any included items, such as appliances, are left in the house. Any agreed-to repairs have been completed or provided for in some other acceptable way.
- Condition: The house is in virtually the same condition as it was when the inspection contingency was satisfied. There is no undue damage by movers or by other causes, such as a break-in and theft, vandalism, basement flood, or some other unknown or unpredictable event.
- Readiness: The house/property has been cleared of all personal items and is left in customary “broom clean” condition.
If, in fact, the terms of the agreement have not been met, or if there is unreasonable new damage since the inspection, or if there is a bunch of junk left behind, then by all means this is a problem for both buyer and seller and the problem(s) will need to be addressed in some way prior to (or at) the closing. But if a buyer gets cold feet and wants to use the final walk-through as a means to not close on the house, or to otherwise make demands on the seller that are not provided for in the agreement, it could be considered a breach of the contract and the seller will have cause to make claim to the buyer’s deposit.
Bottom Line: Contrary to the many online “Final Walk-Through Checklist” docs available from popular websites, the final walk-through is not a re-inspection or re-negotiation; it’s an opportunity for the buyer to verify that the terms of the agreement have been met and that there is no undue damage since the inspection.