March 4, 2024 | Buyers

What is the Importance of a Final Walk-Through?

Updated 2024

Buying a house involves a lot of planning and due diligence before you even begin placing offers. However, it is still a good idea to do a final walkthrough before you get the keys on closing day. Why is this important? 

As the buyer, you have the right to obtain the home in the same condition as when you placed your offer. The purpose of a final walkthrough isn’t to go looking for problems. Taking possession of your new home should be a cause to celebrate, not a time to nitpick over an almost invisible scuff on the wall. 

Still, a lot can happen from when the seller accepts your offer and when your transaction finalizes, and you want to ensure you get precisely what you agreed to. In addition, your purchase may have been conditional upon any repairs or upgrades. 

The final walkthrough is your chance to ensure that the seller has not damaged the home in the meantime and that all conditions are met to your satisfaction. In this post, we’ll talk about a few things you should be on the lookout for when doing your final walkthrough.

When the Seller’s Responsibility Ends

Buying a home isn’t like any other transaction or contract. There is no customer service or support department to contact if anything goes wrong after the fact. Once you sign the paperwork and take the keys, you are on your own for the most part.

The sellers’ responsibility to you ends the moment the house closes. You may have some recourse if you can prove they deliberately withheld information about a known latent defect. But if you find a broken window in the upstairs bedroom, it is no longer the seller’s problem. It is yours. And if the heating or air conditioning suddenly stops working two days after you take possession, you are the one to foot the bill. 

The former homeowner can wash their hands of anything that may go wrong once the transfer of ownership is complete. That’s why we always recommend booking your final walkthrough as close to your closing date as possible.

Are you buying your first home? The resources below just might be invaluable:

Should You Bring Your Buyer Agent With You?

The right to a final walkthrough protects you from a lot of unnecessary heartache, but only if you know what to look for. A layperson will notice the very obvious, like if someone punched a hole through a door since the last time you’ve seen the house. Unfortunately, most signs of problems are subtle and easily missed, especially if you’re distracted by measuring the windows for curtains. 

The solution is to bring your real estate agent with you on your final walkthrough. They have an eye for detail and can spot issues that aren’t apparent to anyone else. For example, there are things that attracted you to that particular home and made you fall in love with it from the beginning. Doing a final walkthrough ensures everything is still as it should be. Your real estate agent is trained to watch out for these minute details that you may not see. Perhaps there’s a scratch on the hardwood floor that wasn’t there before. Or maybe some agreed-on repair has been completed, but the work is subpar.

That attention to detail is one of the many benefits of working with a skilled agent who knows what is close to your heart from the beginning of your home search. 

What to Watch For

During the walkthrough, you’ll ensure that the furnace, plumbing, windows, doors, garage door opener, lighting, and all appliances are in the same or better working order as when you did your home inspection, or first viewed the property. If applicable, you can bring a copy of the original home inspection to help you stay on track as you give everything one last look before taking possession. The following checklist will help ensure that your transaction proceeds seamlessly and that there are no surprises on or shortly after your moving day.

  • Fixture and appliance check: If your offer stipulates that any fixtures or appliances be included, check to see that they are all in working order​.
  • Doors and windows: Check the doors for damage and test all of the locks. Ensure that no windows are broken and that they open and close easily. 
  • Pest issues: Check around decks, patios, and sheds to ensure that no unwelcome guests have made themselves at home. 
  • Landscaping and exterior: While the seller is under no obligation to plant a garden or maintain meticulous landscaping, they do need to keep the exterior of the home in reasonable condition. An unkempt lawn isn’t just unsightly, but can indicate that the rest of the property has not been kept up to a high standard. 
  • Utility check: Test the light switches, outlets, and heating and cooling systems. Also, run the hot water and flush all toilets to ensure they are all working properly.

Looking for some more nuanced real estate advice? The resources below might change your way of thinking:

Your Recourses and Next Steps

What happens if you or your agent spots something amiss? If your offer was conditional on any of these items and the seller isn’t cooperating, you might decide not to go through with the transaction. However, finding a home isn’t easy in today’s market, and neither party wants to start all over from the beginning. 

The best case scenario is that the seller now has the opportunity to rectify any shortfalls or allow for a financial rebate for you to replace or correct the problem yourself. In any case, you’ll be glad the issue arose while the ball was still in the seller’s court. Fortunately, the final walkthrough doesn’t usually turn up significant issues. However, taking this step allows you to look forward to moving into your new home with peace of mind. 

Are you ready to begin your search in Guelph or the Tri-Cities? Our local experts would love to help you find a home you love. Reach out today Reach out today to 519-826-7109 or for more information.

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