Final Walk Through Home Inspections

The final walk through inspection is conducted on the day a buyer closes on a home.  Knowing what's important, and what to look out for, can save a good deal of grief, and money, later on.

This final walk through needs to address the home's condition in two ways:

  • The first has to do with problems previously uncovered or identified during the original home inspection.
  • The second has to do with any new damages to the home that may have occurred after the original inspection.

Home Inspections

Professionals are paid to conduct home inspections so that buyers understand exactly what they're purchasing.  They help to identify existing and potential future problems with a home, which can cost a significant amount of money to repair later on.

Many times, these problems can be identified by the buyer.  For example, a leaking roof might be obvious due to stains on a ceiling.  But the home inspector may also discover hidden problems with the house's electrical system or plumbing.  Conducting an inspection provides the buyer with some reassurances they're paying a fair amount for the home, and they are somewhat insulated from unexpected repairs in the near term.

This is the reason the commitment to purchase a home is often contingent upon the inspector's report.  This process includes negotiating the cost of the repairs with the home's seller.  The primary reason for the final walk through is to make sure the repairs have been made to the home as negotiated with the seller.

A secondary purpose of the walk through is to make sure the owner has not damaged the home since the professional inspection occurred.  The most common example is floor and wall damage that occur when the seller moves out of the home.

Conducting the Inspection

So how exactly does a buyer conduct this walk through inspection?  It's vitally important it takes place before closing on the home.  That's why the walk through is oftentimes scheduled to occur on the same day as the closing.  This allows the buyer to get one last look at the home before purchasing it.

If possible, it's a good idea to have a professional inspector alongside to help with the walk through; especially if the buyer isn't able to determine if a satisfactory repair has been made to the home.  It's also helpful to take a digital camera to document all findings.

Checking on Repairs Ahead of Time

Buyers don't need to wait until the last minute to inspect a home for all repairs, especially ones that cost a significant amount of money to fix.  For example, if the home needs new sidewalks or a roof, then it's easy enough to verify these repairs have been completed well before the closing date.

Inspecting the Home

Buyers should have with them the list of repairs to be made to the home; as agreed-to earlier by the seller.  Go through each item and verify the repair was made and the situation is now acceptable.

Look through each room to make sure it is in the same condition as it was when the contract was signed to buy the home.  For example:

  • Did the movers bang up the walls, rip the rugs or scratch the wooden floors?
  • Were the moldings around the doors damaged when they moved an appliance from a room?
  • Does the heating and air conditioning system still work?
  • Are all of the appliances still in working condition?
  • Have all the items the seller agreed to remove from the home out of the home?
  • Did the seller leave "junk" behind in the basement, attic, yard or garage?
  • Are all of the items the seller agreed to leave in the home still there?  This includes window treatments, lighting fixtures, and chandeliers.

Don't underestimate the time it can take to conduct this final inspection.  Depending on the size of the home, this walk through can take several hours to complete.  Remember, it takes time to flush toilets, run faucets, turn on appliances, test air conditioners, and run heating equipment.

A home or house is a complex building, and it's important to make sure everything is working as expected.  Rushing through the inspection can cost a borrower thousands of dollars in repairs later on.

Resolving Problems

Unfortunately, things don't always go as planned when buying a home.  If a buyer finds the seller has not lived up to their part of the agreement, there are three courses of action they can take.  With any of these arrangements, the buyer needs to work with their attorney to come to a satisfactory agreement.

  • Placing Repair Money in Escrow:  The first option is to have the seller place an amount in excess of the anticipated repair costs in escrow or a trust with the buyer's attorney.  This is an important point; make sure the money is sufficient to cover the costs of the repairs.  As the repairs are made, the money can be removed from the escrow account to pay for the work.
  • Reducing Price Paid:  The second option is to negotiate the costs with the seller, and have those costs removed from the price of the home at closing.  Again, there needs to be enough money to make the repairs, so make sure an expert can provide an estimate of the repair costs.
  • Delaying the Closing:  Finally, if uncomfortable with either of the above two options, delay the closing itself.  Again, work out the exact details with an attorney, but it's not unreasonable to ask the seller to help pay for costs incurred because of the delay.  This is especially true if they've purposefully ignored the repairs in the first place, and a buyer is forced to live elsewhere and / or pay to have furniture placed into storage.

About the Author - Final Walk Through Home Inspections (Last Reviewed on September 14, 2016)