Thursday, May 20, 2010

Essential Final Walkthrough Checklist for Homebuyers

With the tax credit timeline to close coming up quickly, there are going to be many closings on properties for first time homebuyers in the next few weeks. Before the closing, there is one essential step that must be taken with your REALTOR®: The Final WalkThrough.
A few days before closing, your agent will call to schedule the date and time of the final walk-through. Don’t get caught up with thinking, "This is great! I needed to check the paint color in the bedroom and measure the windows for blinds." That is not what the final walk-through is for. This is the last opportunity for you to see the home prior to closing. It is an appointment not to be missed or glossed over. It is a time to stay focused on your investment and examine the condition of the property one last time.
The purchase agreement that you signed in the state of Minnesota requires the seller to warrant that the central air conditioning, heating, plumbing and wiring systems on the property are in working order on the date of closing. It also insures the buyer the right to a "walk-through" review of the property prior to closing. This is not something to forego.
Awhile back there was a news report of a St Paul couple who made a huge mistake when they skipped the final walk through of their new home. They headed to their new home, keys in hand with all of their belongings in the moving van, directly to their new home after they signed their closing documents. Their intentions were to move right in and begin enjoying their dream home, Instead they arrived to find a nightmare.
Sometime since they first saw the home and the time they drove up with the keys, a pipe had burst and flooded the entire home. Water poured into the house for several days and they found a virtual indoor swimming pool instead of a home. This young couple had considered the final walk-through unnecessary since they had just seen the home a few weeks ago. “What could have changed?” was their misguided thinking.
Now they were the proud but frustrated owners of a huge mess. Although they may have legal remedies for having the home repaired, these buyers would have been in a much better position if they negotiated with the seller prior to signing the closing documents. Or in the case of this extreme damage, the buyers could have refused to sign and not purchase the home.
It is imperative that every buyer do a final walk-through on the property they intend to purchase as close to the closing as possible. I suggest to my clients that we schedule the walk-through an hour or two before the closing appointment. We meet at the home to review the condition of the property and then go directly to the closing. If any problems are noted, I immediately contact the seller's agent via cell phone so he/she will have time to discuss the situation with the seller and determine alternatives to address the issues.
The walk-through just prior to closing doesn't eliminate every surprise that a new buyer might face. But it significantly reduces the chance of closing on an unknown disaster. Here is a quick guide of some of the areas to consider during a final walk through:

Final Walk-Through Guide
Double Check the Paperwork**Are all work orders complete? Are you satisfied with the results?
Exterior Review**Check for any changes to exterior since purchase agreement.
Plumbing Review**Flush all toilets.
**Check all faucets for water pressure and temperature.
**Check operation of all appliances

Interior Rooms Review**Check for any changes to interior since purchase agreement.
Electrical Review
**Check all lights, outlets, bathroom fans and kitchen fans.

Furnace and Air Conditioning Review**Check operation of all systems.
Attic and Basement Review
**Check for changes in any stained, damp or wet areas.

The final walkthrough should be done with a complete checklist and organized plan. After a review of the home inside and out with a checklist will get you back to exciting part of that final walk-through...Will the couch look better here or there?

Copyright 2010 Teri Eckholm