Buying & Selling Houses

Buying Property? 7 Things to Look for When Doing a Final Walk-Through

Expertise: Personal Development, Real Estate Wholesaling, Real Estate Investing Basics
90 Articles Written
closeup of human hand with key dropping key into another person's open palm in front of a house

Buying a home for a rental, flip, or a primary residence, there are a few things you need to look for when conducting a final walk-through.

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As an investor and Realtor, I’ve seen some tricks by sellers. In this article, I’ll provide you my perspective on what to look for when conducting a final walk-through.

What to Look for in a Walk-Through When Buying Property

As a Realtor, I have a fiduciary responsibility to my buyer. I must be the eyes and ears of the transaction. I also have to understand what the seller desires. This can become difficult to navigate, but as long as the client’s best interest is represented, then the Realtor’s job is done.

Let’s discuss what a buyer needs to look for when doing a final walk-through. I have noted seven items in particular. These are not in the order of importance. However, all items can determine the likelihood of whether an acquisition will be disastrous or profitable.

Related: I Just Toured 3 Multifamily Properties: Here’s What They Taught Me

Infestations

An infestation can be something as harmful as ants or as detrimental as bed bugs or termites. Remediation of an infestation can be as simple as going to your local home supply store. But in the worst case scenario, fixing this type of problem could cost thousands. I highly recommend being proactive and having an inspection completed.

In the past, I was surprised when walking a potential flip and discovering the house was infested with bees. The picture below does not express the magnitude of the bee colony and hive, which spanned the entire inner wall.

Bee Infestation

Water Damage

Being cognizant of water damage can save you thousands. It’s important to look in areas where water might be evident, especially if there’s an indication of an aging roof.

Examine the ceilings for water spots. Other key areas to check are around the water heater and under sinks.

In regions where properties have basements, I suggest looking for moisture around baseboards and water lines on the dry wall or block walls.

Asbestos, Mold, & Lead-Based Paint

In most states, if not all, these are disclosure items. That means, by law if the seller is aware or there’s evidence of any one of these three issues, it must be disclosed to the buyer.

In the past, a real estate transaction hinged on the premise of “buyer beware.” With new state regulations, there’s an effort to protect the buyer. Asbestos, mold, and lead paint disposal must meet certain environmental disposal regulations. Therefore, the fees associated with remediation and disposal are higher than traditional disposals due to the carcinogens in the materials.

Related: Your 48-Point DIY Home Inspection Checklist

Plumbing and Electrical

Plumbing and electrical are possibly the most critical components to inspect. Utilizing a professional home inspector and having a contractor review the systems is essential. In older homes, cast iron piping is something that needs to be replaced for the functionality of the plumbing.

Also, in older homes, knob and tube electrical or buss fuses are problematic. Rewiring or upgrading the electrical will cost thousands of dollars, which can blow a rehab budget quickly.

For the above reasons, these seven items need to be evaluated prior to purchasing a property. But there are many more items, such as roofing, foundation, and other structural issues, that are critical to check, as well. For that reason, my suggestion to my clients is always to have a professional home inspection done.

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Have I missed any items that should be inspected?

List them in the comment section below.

Marcus Maloney is a value investor and portfolio holder of residential and commercial units. He has completed over $3.3 million in wholesale transactions. Currently, Marcus is a licensed agent who wholesales virtually in multiple states while building his investment portfolio. He has also converted some of his deals into cash-flowing rentals. Marcus holds seven rentals, two of which are commercial units. He’s even purchased a school, which was converted into a daycare center. His overall goal is to turn what is a marginal profit into a significant equity position. He leverages the equity by using the BRRRR (buy, rehab, rent, refinance, repeat) strategy to increase his portfolio without any money out-of-pocket. Marcus has been featured in numerous podcast such as the Louisville Gal Podcast, The Best Deal Ever Podcast, The Flipping Junkie, and many others. He contributes content regularly to his YouTube channel and blog.

    Wenda Kennedy JD from Nikiski, Alaska
    Replied 18 days ago
    When I was appraising, and as a buyer, I also looked for evidence of additions or alterations. Each time period has its own materials and style of construction. If I found anything, it's was a red flag to personally go to the Building and Safety Office. I check to see if there were permits issued and what they say should be constructed there. I've seen situations where permits were pulled for one thing and something was built. Also, were those permits finalized by being signed off after a final inspection? Are there any other orders against the property (ie. desist orders, condemnation orders, etc.). This investigation is critical. I've seen people be required to tear down half, or all, of their house because of permitting issues. It is also critical in a loss situation like a fire or an act of God. The insurance company will many times only replace what had permits. Similarly, many local codes only allow the owners to re-build what was included in their permits, sometimes on the same footprint. It's better to be safe than sorry.
    Thomas Dougherty from New York
    Replied 16 days ago
    Great input! Thank you for sharing.
    Katie Rogers from Santa Barbara, California
    Replied 15 days ago
    Problem with final walkthrough---Anything you discover that was not detected during the home inspection is likely going to be on you. Remember, you would never have gotten to "final walkthrough" if you had not already cleared the buyer's die diligence contingencies. You might be able to make an argument that the seller's disclosures were insufficient, but the seller (and their lawyer) will insist that they didn't know and cannot be held responsible. Contacting your buyer's agent and the buyer's agent broker of record may be frustrating when they ignore your phone messages, emails, and snail mail, especially if you discover issues after closing. They got paid at closing and now they are gone, fiduciary duty or no fiduciary duty. Unless the cost to remediate is pretty substantial like significantly greater than the small claims limit, suing may be pointless.