Buying & Selling Houses

10 Things to Look for in a Final Walk-Through

Expertise: Business Management, Personal Finance
80 Articles Written
viewing in a magnifying glass the design of a house layout / inspection of construction objects

Buying a home can be a back-and-forth process, as buyers and sellers negotiate price, repairs, and other sticking points before closing.

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These negotiations can be exhausting. Waiting for a seller to make repairs only keeps you from closing, while fast-moving flippers or impatient buyers may be tempted to close as soon as possible. But if you don’t do a final walk-through, you could ultimately lose time and money on your purchase.

Here’s a guide to help you understand the importance of a final walk-through and what you should look for when it takes place.

What Is a Final Walk-Through?

After all the repairs are completed and the house is ready for closing, buyers have the option of doing a final walk-through of the property. This walk-through allows the buyer to confirm that the seller fulfilled the terms of the deal. It is not the time to propose any new repairs or terms.

Do not rush through this opportunity; conduct your due diligence appropriately. The final walk-through typically takes place a few days (or hours) before closing. Once you make things official, you can’t chase after the seller for additional expenses—any oversights will come out of your wallet.

Sellers are typically not present at the final walk-through. But if they are, you have the chance to ask any final questions and address any “quirks” of the house. Have a list of questions and documents ready for your walk-through.

What to Bring to a Final Walk-Through

  • Purchase agreement
  • Home inspection report
  • Pen and paper to make notes
  • Camera
  • Phone charger or other electronic device (for testing outlets)
  • List of questions for the seller (or their agent)

What to Look For During a Final Walk-Through

A final walk-through will give you the chance to find any inconveniences you should know about before you put your signature anywhere. From squeaky doors to poor plumbing, a thorough walk-through should eliminate any move-in day surprises.

Smiling realtor greeting her customers outside the house for sale in winter with snow on ground

Check for each of the following when you do your final walk-through:

1. Sticky or creaky doors

Open and close every door and window in the home. Problems with doors and windows could point to larger issues within the home or may simply be an annoyance you want to know about before you move in.

2. HVAC issues

Run both the heating and air conditioning systems during your walk-through—you don't want to wait until the next season to find out that there are issues with your new home. Make sure you'll be comfortable all year round.

Related: The Ultimate Guide to Due Diligence

3. Broken outlets

Try to charge your phone or plug in another electronic device in every outlet in the house. If something isn’t working, you might have a larger electrical problem to address. This process might also give you some ideas of where you might like to place your furniture come move-in day.

4. Leaky faucets or poor plumbing

Run the hot and cold water in all of the bathrooms and the kitchen.

5. Mold

Even if you didn’t see mold in your initial inspections, you might spot it in your final walk-through. Mold grows quickly—check in the basement or around the sinks for signs of mold or leakage.

home-inspection

6. Broken appliances

The final walk-through can feel tedious, but it’s less painful than the process of repairing a dishwasher. Run all of the appliances once to ensure that they are move-in ready. This includes the garbage disposal and the water filter in the refrigerator. No one wants to spend the first few weeks in their new home fixing the oven or calling the repairman.

7. Doorbell and other home systems

Ring the doorbell. Open the garage door. Irrigate the lawn and run the sprinklers. Check all of these systems to prevent surprises later.

Related: 12 Questions to Ask Before You Hire a General Contractor

8. Warranties and repair information

Sellers may have made repairs as per your requests and may have also bought new appliances in the past few years. During these processes, the sellers probably built a relationship with local mechanics or specialists. Get their names so you can quickly reach out in case anything goes wrong.

9. Missing plants

Your final walk-through shouldn’t just focus on the inside of the home. Check the landscaping to make sure everything is in place. Are you getting all of the plants and pathways that you wanted? This might seem like a silly question, but it’s necessary. Buyers have shown up to their homes only to see that trees have been dug up and shrubs have been removed.

10. Signs of pests

Like mold, signs of an infestation can pop up in a few days. Fleas, ticks, and termites breed quickly. Any of the following signs might indicate the need for a closer look:

  • Dead bugs
  • Droppings
  • Pesticides under the sink or in cabinets
  • Sagging floors
  • Small holes in the wall or baseboard

A final walk-through is worth the time and effort it takes to go through every room and check every system. Take this opportunity and give yourself some peace of mind before you sign.

What repairs or changes have you negotiated as a buyer?

Let us know in the comments below!

Scott Royal Smith is an asset protection attorney and long-time real estate investor. His law firm, Royal Legal Solutions, helps thousands of real est...
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    Andrew Syrios Residential Real Estate Investor from Kansas City, MO
    Replied 6 months ago
    Great list and the importance of due diligence cannot be overstated. I would also recommend looking at the roof and ceiling to make sure there's no signs of water damage and checking the basement for any signs water is getting in.
    Christopher Smith Investor from brentwood, california
    Replied 6 months ago
    I've always insisted on a 1 year warranty paid by seller. Never had any push back on that request.
    Gerald Harris
    Replied 6 months ago
    I got to know a City Inspector pretty good on a house we were rebuilding...He wasn't all gung ho to just cite you and leave...He welcomed us to ask questions and would advise us in the areas that needed attention...If you get a good inspector, they are SUPER valuable in teaching you what to look for in an inspection of a potential purchase and a HUGE thing to look for to avoid liability is a tip device on the oven and GFCI in the kitchen and bathrooms
    John Daley Real Estate Investor from Kansas City, MO
    Replied 6 months ago
    I appreciate the intent of this article, but several of these items should be addressed during the inspection period prior to the final walk through. Like you stated, this isn’t the time to request additional repairs so these items should be checked as soon as the property goes under contract when you perform your inspections. The final walk through is to make sure the agreed upon repairs were made properly and make sure there are no significant new issues that have come up since the property was previously inspected.
    Barry Cohen Inspector from Freeport, NY
    Replied 6 months ago
    Totally correct...Most of these items should be looked at and identified during the home inspection. If you are finding these issues for the first time at the final walk through you are screwed. A lot of misdirection in this article unfortunately.
    James P. Hill Realtor from Surf City, NC
    Replied 6 months ago
    @john Daley You are right on the money. I was going to write something very similar about getting the professional home inspector to test out all of the systems and appliances as early in due diligence as possible so that there is time to negotiate the requested repairs.
    Jim Wethington
    Replied 6 months ago
    All these ideas are great things to check but almost all of the items should have been identified by the home inspection - not hours before the closing. Verification that landscaping, lighting fixtures, etc not removed is a valid item to check.