The Final Walk-Through

If you're buying a house or other structure, you should plan to do a final walk-through prior to closing on it. This is your way of making sure the place is in the same (or better) condition it was in when you made your offer to purchase, or in the condition agreed to by the seller. Hold off on the final walk-through until the sellers have moved, just to make sure that you have an opportunity to inspect for damage that could have occurred during their departure.

Early walk-throughs are important whenever the seller agrees to make repairs, because you don't want to find out on the day of closing that the repairs have not been made. Plan to re-check the property as soon as you are notified that the repairs are complete. Take along your inspector to help verify that repairs were done correctly. Return on the day of closing for your final walk-through.

What to Look For

Have items been damaged during the seller's move? Check flooring for rips and gouges. Look at the walls to make sure there's no damage, especially to walls and areas around doorframes.

Your contract probably stated that all major systems in the building must work at the time of closing. You might want to do a quick check of appliances, gas logs, furnaces, air conditioners, and other fixtures to make sure they haven't failed since the building inspection.

All items that the sellers agreed to leave should be in place. All items they agreed to remove should be gone. You probably don't want to be stuck with the expense of hauling away Uncle Harry's 1975 truck that's been sitting in the garden for ten years.

Resolving Problems

Problems found immediately before closing can sometimes be resolved quickly. The seller wants their proceeds from the sale, and the buyer has the power to hold it up until a resolution is found. Funds can be placed in a neutral party's trust fund to pay for repairs, removal of trash, or whatever is needed to bring the seller in compliance with the contract. Or you might prefer to fix the problems yourself after negotiating a flat amount to be paid to you at closing.

Make sure all issues are addressed before the deed changes hands. If you cannot come to an agreement with the seller, it might be best to postpone closing until they have performed the necessary tasks.

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