Final walkthroughs are not the same as home inspections - this is not the time for negotiations with the seller to do repairs or add contingencies. The purpose of a final walkthrough is to make sure the property you are purchasing is in the condition in which you agreed to buy it. It is a time to make sure any agreed-on repairs were made and that no issues have arisen with the home since you last looked at it. Because buyers are often on a time crunch as the closing date approaches, many are tempted to pass on the final walkthrough - but it is highly recommended that you do not skip it as once your sale is complete, there isn’t much you can do.
Vacant home concerns are one of the biggest reasons to do a final walkthrough. Since sellers often move out of their homes quite some time before closing, it's even more imperative that you conduct a final walkthrough if the seller has already vacated the home. Issues tend to pop up when homes sit vacant for any period of time. For example, a dripping faucet that has been plugged during a termite inspection can turn into a flooded bathroom if the plug wasn’t uncovered. Even disconnecting refrigerators connected to the house water line or moving out washing machines can cause floods, and old plumbing that hasn't been used for a while can spring leaks.
Why a Final Walkthrough Matters
Say you're purchasing a home and the seller left shortly after putting the home on the market. Your home inspection went smoothly and the inspector didn't note any items that required immediate attention. Your agent will likely advise you to turn on all the lights, run the water, and make sure the stove works when you conduct the final walkthrough, but there are some things you may not think of during the excitement of the last walkthrough before you officially own this home! Thankfully though, your agent attended the walkthrough with you. He decided to check off a few more items, like flushing the toilets. When he does so, a geyser of water almost simultaneously gushes from the ground in the backyard. That flushing action revealed that the sewer line had roots growing through it and you receive an estimate of $5,000 the next day to fix the issue. If this hadn’t occurred prior to the finalizing of your sale, you could be responsible for those repairs. If you don't do a walkthrough, you'll have to absorb the cost of any repairs if you don't get the seller to reduce the home's price as compensation.
What to Check During Your Final Walkthrough
Your final walkthrough is to check for any unresolved issues with the home. To ensure that is the case, follow these steps:
Turn on and off every light fixture.
Run water and check for leaks under sinks.
Test all appliances.
Check garage door openers.
Open and close all doors.
Inspect ceilings, walls, and floors.
Run the garbage disposal and exhaust fans.
Test the heating and air conditioning.
Open and close windows.
Make sure all debris is removed from the home.