The walkthrough typically lasts about 20 minutes. The point of the walkthrough is:
- To make sure the property is in substantially the same condition as the date of the offer, excepting normal wear and tear.
- To make sure the items negotiated into the offer are present such as appliances, window treatments and any fixtures negotiated.
- To make sure heat, electricity and water are operating.
Here in Michigan, the seller often has occupancy after closing, renting back from the purchaser for a specified period of time. Since the seller is often still occupying the property on the date of closing, the risk of accidental damage from moving out is virtually nil. But what if the appliances no longer work? Or what if the seller has stopped maintaining the pool? You should still do your walkthrough because these items can be addressed at closing.
What if the house is vacant? Many buyers often think since no one has been living in the house that it will still be in the same condition at closing as it was at the offer. For the most part, this is true. There is not much risk of someone breaking anything or accidentally punching holes in the wall while moving big furniture out; however, other risks are present in an unoccupied home.
I once did a final walk through on a vacant home on the way to the closing without my buyers, because my clients could not get off of work early.
We had been in the house just two weeks before to do some measuring, so I did not anticipate any problems, but when I got there, the furnace was not working. The heat had gone out sometime in those two weeks, and we had a week of 30-degree temps! We had no idea if it was a major repair like the furnace or minor like the thermostat. We were closing in an hour and had no time to get a contractor out before closing to diagnose it. No need to panic.
I immediately notified the seller’s agent and drafted an escrow agreement to hold $5,000 of the seller’s money in an escrow account with the title company until they could get a licensed HVAC company out to diagnose, repair and deliver a paid receipt. The seller agreed, and everyone moved forward to close.
It is a good idea for the buyers to do a walk-through before closing and again when you receive the keys. After you get the keys but before taking a single box inside, walk through the property again and make sure everything is in good order and items included with the property are present.
Rarely have our clients had a problem, but if there is a conflict, you should take care to immediately document your claim to help your agent direct you to a proper resolution.
Stay calm and don’t get upset with the sellers. They may not even know of the issue. Take pictures with your phone and make sure they are dated, too.
Notable items to look for on your walkthrough are:
- Property is in the same condition as of the date of your agreement, excepting normal wear and tear.
- All included items in your offer are present.
All utilities are on. Utilities are heat, electricity and water.
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