The Complete Guide to Your Final Walk-through

Brendan Rigney

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Brendan Rigney

June 27th, 2022
Updated June 27th, 2022

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The final walk-through is a home buyer's last look at a property before closing. As a buyer, you should make the most of this opportunity to double check the home's condition.

The overall goal is to ensure the property is in the same condition (or better!) it was when you agreed to buy it. This requires you to look at every space with a fine-tooth comb.

Ultimate final walk-through checklist | Why it matters | Conducting a walk-through | Found an issue? | FAQs

The basics of a final walk-through

Usually, the final walk-through takes place within 24 hours of closing. You can do it earlier — just make sure the seller has already left so you can look for any post-move damage.

You should have your agent with you as you take a look around; they can help you notice any issues and keep you focused. If your agent can't make it or if you didn't work with one, you should still consider bringing someone with you as an extra pair of eyes.

The final walk-through is NOT the same as a home inspection

A home inspection requires a licensed professional to look through the property. They're looking for SPECIFIC issues, like problems with the home's foundation or signs of pests.

During a final walk-through, you might be checking that any problems that the inspector found have been taken care of.

Why the final walk-through matters

The final walk-through isn't legally required — but it's heavily recommended. If you're a buyer, this is your last chance to look at your potential home and address any issues before closing.

Catching an issue during the walk-through means you can save yourself some trouble and have the seller take care of it instead.

For example, if you find a window broken during your final walk-through, you have the option to ask the seller to repair it (or at least pay for the repair). And while it might not be fixed before you move in, you're aware of it and won't be surprised by it later.

How to conduct a final walk-through

Bring along another pair of eyes

One of the best ways to set yourself up for success is to have your agent with you during the final walk-through. They know the property as well as you do, and they've likely conducted a walk-through before.

If your agent can't make it, you should still bring someone else along to make sure you catch any problems with the home.

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Be thorough in inspecting the space

Check each room, and don't forget any crawlspaces and the home's exterior. And take as much time as you need!

» JUMP: A checklist makes things easier to remember

Focus on any issues you've already discussed with the seller

If your purchase agreement covered fixing problems (e.g., a broken appliance, chipped paint), the seller is obligated to follow through.

What if the buyer discovers an issue during the walk-through?

If you find an issue during the final walk-through, you have a few options for how to address it.

If it's a minor issue, you can ask the seller to take care of the issue and renegotiate the purchase agreement to include as much. This makes it easier to hash out how this would be paid for, like through a seller concession or with money withheld from seller proceeds, and you have it in writing.

If the issue is major, you could ask to delay closing until it's resolved. While a delay might complicate your move (and the seller's), it would give both parties more time.

If you find something unresolvable, you could cancel the home purchase as a last resort. This doesn't happen often — only 7% of purchase agreements are canceled, according to a recent survey from the National Association of Realtors.

Navigating changes to a purchase agreement can be complicated. As a buyer, your best bet is to work with a real estate expert.

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Purchase agreements are most easily canceled thanks to contingencies, or conditions that need to be met for the sale to go through.

Repair contingency vs. inspection contingency

A repair contingency deals with how expensive home repairs could be, while an inspection contingency allows the buyer to cancel the purchase if the home inspection uncovers a serious problem with the home.

For example, a repair contingency allows a buyer to walk away if any repairs needed for the property are more expensive than a certain dollar amount. It assures the seller that you're flexible on the home's condition, but not TOO flexible.

Final walk-through checklist

» Download and print a final walk-through checklist

What to bring

When prepping for the final walk-through, bring these with you:

  • Purchase agreement to give you a better idea of the property
  • Inspection report to make sure the seller completed all repairs noted in the inspection
  • Your phone for pictures and a flashlight
  • Your phone (charger or something to plug in) to check outlets
  • Your agent or a friend

Inside the home

📋 Check for repairs listed on the inspection summary. If there's something the seller missed, they would need to repair the issue before closing.

🚚 Look for damages from the seller's move, like scuff marks on the floor or damage to the walls from furniture.

🚽 Inspect the bathrooms. Check the water pressure and temperature from the faucets, showers, and bathtubs. Flush each toilet to make sure they work, and check how each sink drains. Also look for mold or water damage.

🍳 Inspect the kitchen. Check that every appliance — the fridge, stove, dishwasher, etc. — is functioning. Make sure the sink and garbage disposal work properly.

🔌 Use every outlet to see if any don't work.

💡 Check each lighting fixture.

🚪 Make sure each door and window closes and locks properly.

❄️ Test the HVAC system for both cold AND hot air. Check any radiators or window air conditioning units, too.

🪳 Look for signs of pests and rodents, like droppings, holes in the floors or walls, and signs of nesting (e.g., shredded paper, leaves, or packaging).

🛋 Make sure any items included in the sale (like furniture, appliances, window blinds) are still there after the seller has moved out.

Outside the home

🏚 Check for damage to the home's exterior, like chipped paint, broken siding, or cracked window frames.

🐀 Look for signs of pests and rodents. Some states require sellers to disclose any history of a pest or rodent infestation.

🌳 Make sure all yard items included in the sale, like trees or a tool shed, are still there.

⚙️ Inspect the property's exterior lights, garage doors, gutters, and other home systems.

🚘 Check the driveway for any debris.

FAQs about the final walk-through

Home buyers should thoroughly check the property. They should make sure any repairs they requested on the seller have been fulfilled. They should also look at the home's utilities, appliances, HVAC system, doors, windows, and yard; and check for mold, pests, or any kind of damage.

Sometimes. Home buyers can cancel their purchase after the walk-through as long as they included a contingency in their agreement with the seller and they found some major or unresolvable issues with the property. However, this isn't common.

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