Hi, I’m Warren Oberholser. I’m a realtor in the East Bay Tri-Valley area in Northern California. My goal is to help both buyers and sellers get maximum results for one of their biggest investments, their home.
The buyer’s final walkthrough, that name’s a bit misleading.
A better name for it is the buyer’s ‘final verification’. In fact, this is the name of the disclosure the buyer signs when they complete this visit.
The visit is an important final step for the homebuyer. It typically occurs in the last few days leading up to the closing of their home.
The final walkthrough is your last chance to inspect a property that you’re just about to own to ensure that it’s in the same condition as you agreed to it when you signed the purchase contract.
If the seller has agreed to perform repairs on the property, you need to verify if the work has been completed correctly. The visit is also to verify if personal items that were included in the sale are still on the property and that there’s no new damage to the home.
Please understand this appointment isn’t to discover if the home you’re just about to own has any issues.
At this phase in the contract, all personal inspections should have been completed during the investigation period. The final walkthrough appointment is for one reason, to make sure the home you’re about to own is whole.
There’s a lot to discuss here. So let’s get started.
Step number one: Preparation
To ensure your walkthrough goes without a hitch. There’s a couple of things I recommend you do prior to the visit.
- Number one, the buyer’s agents have sent the listing agent a reminder email to please ensure that the utilities on the property remain on. Now, as a buyer, you should feel free to call your agent to determine if this has been done.
- Number two, bring along a smartphone that has a camera so you can document any issues. You’ll see how this will come in handy.
Step number two: Take inventory
Now, here’s one thing I want to discuss. The walkthrough is basically a visual inspection for the buyer.
So, as you walked through the property, using your detailed eye, look at each room carefully, scanning the area from ceiling to floor observing if everything appears in good order. If it does, great, move on to the next room or area in the house. As opposed to running all the appliances, checking for doors and windows that they operate correctly. Again, this should have been handled already by a licensed termite or certified home inspector during the investigation period of the contract.
Think of this visit like you’re a detective and you want to look at the property to see if anything looks out of the ordinary?
Now, what if you do see something wrong? Well, this is why you have your cell phone camera. The buyer’s agent should take a picture or video and send it to the listing agent ASAP while they’re still on property. The listing agent may be able to get a hold of the seller while you’re on the property to explain what the issue is.
Now, part of your visual inspection is to make sure that all the items are still on the premise.
If the seller is agreed for the contract to leave certain personal items, such as plants, furniture, etc, then the buyer needs to take inventory of them, and note if they’re present and if there appears to be any defects to their condition,
A few more items to note in your visual inspection.
Did the seller leave all house keys, remotes for ceiling fans, alarms, garage doors, special keys for storage sheds, fobs for HOA pools or entrance gates?
Another thing I like to do prior to this visit is to reach out to the listing agent to inquire from the seller, where are these items stored?
This way we can locate them immediately and verify that they are present. Most of the time, these items are left in the kitchen, usually on the countertop or in a top drawer. It’s always helpful and appreciated when a seller leaves instructions or a note designating which key operates what, and if there’s any special information you need to know about them. But it is not necessary or required of the seller to do this. If these items aren’t present and they’re not noted in the seller’s disclosures, then the buyer’s agent will reach out to the listing agent to inquire.
Step number three: Is the property move-in ready?
In California, there are specific guidelines or language in the contract that describes what is acceptable condition the property can be left in. If you’d like to know more about this, please reach out to me.
So, what happens if the seller left any junk or stuff in the property?
It can be done intentionally as a nice gesture to the buyer, thinking that they would appreciate it. If I’m listing agent, I always reach out to the buyer’s agent prior to the walkthrough asking if the buyer would be interested in these items left by the seller. It’s been my experience, it’s always better to ask for approval ahead of time, because you never know.
It can be laziness or a lack of regard on the part of the seller.
If this is the case, then as the buyer’s agent, I would reach out to the listing agent, explaining the buyer will not close in the property until these items have been removed.
Many times, this is just a misunderstanding. The seller is usually so stressed and just getting out of the property. They either forgot, ran out of time, or hired somebody to come by and remove the items, but they just haven’t shown up yet. Again, this is why you have your cell phone with a camera. You take pictures, you send them to the listing agent, and most of these items get resolved immediately. The key is to do all of this while you’re still on the property.
Step number four: Are there any missing items from the property?
What happens if items that were to remain on the property, such as the refrigerator, washer and dryer had been removed?
Yes, this does happen. What typically happens is one, the seller forgets what was agreed in the contract to leave behind for the buyer. Two, the movers unbeknownst to the seller will remove these items that were meant to stay. And to compound this, if the seller had their effects stored temporarily let’s say, while they’re waiting for their new location to be available, then the seller would have no idea they removed. So, if this occurs, the buyer’s agent just lets the listing agent know, then the seller will make arrangements, so all the missing items can be returned. It may take a couple of days to resolve, but it usually does without a hitch.
Step number five: Repairs
What if the contract or repair request the seller was to perform repairs prior to the property closing? If the repairs were performed to an appliance like a dishwasher or an HVAC unit, like the air conditioner, make sure they are operating correctly.
If so, did the seller leave all permits, warranties, receipts for the buyer? In most cases, the listing agent will have already sent these items to the buyer’s agent as disclosure documents. For example, if the seller had a new dishwasher installed, you should run the dishwasher long enough to complete a cycle. To manage time, you can start the dishwasher when you first get there, so it has time to run and you can continue your evaluation on the rest of the house. Now, if they had worked under an air conditioner or heater, you can set the thermostat accordingly so the unit can run, and then you can monitor to make sure it’s working correctly. One note is, certain items like an air conditioner, it may be not warranted to run it if the temperature outside isn’t suited for it. Best to check with the professional on this.
Now, what do you do if there’s an issue? Let’s say the repair isn’t correct.
Buyer’s agent should contact the listing agent again, ASAP while you’re still on the property so the listing agent can reach out to the seller for an explanation. Many times if it’s a new unit like a dishwasher or something was repaired like the pool equipment, it can just be operator error. So, through that chain of events where the buyer agent contact the listing agent and he can contact the seller, this gives a seller time while you’re still on the property to advise the buyer or the buyer’s agent, how to operate that piece of equipment correctly. This is very common when it comes to pool equipment, ceiling fans, garage doors, openers, et cetera. If something was installed professionally like a dishwasher or something and it isn’t operating correctly, then the simplest thing is just to reach out to the company that did the installation.
One last point on repairs, let’s say per the contract seller was to clear the section one or a roof, it’s important that you have a licensed contractor or certified inspector come out and verify the work has been done correctly.
In fact, this should have been done prior to the walkthrough. Reason why, if it is determined from the re-inspection that there’s still an issue, then the buyer’s agent has time to communicate to the listing agent that the seller needs to handle these items before the property closes. Again, this is a subject that’s getting a little bit off topic, so any specific question, always feel free to reach out to me.
So, in summary, the main function of the final walkthrough is to perform a visual inspection before the property you’re about to own closes.
Any issues noted should be immediately brought to the attention to the listing agent while you’re still on the property. The majority of issues are easily resolved and if there is something that needs further attention such as a missing item or repair, by taking immediate action, you’ll hopefully resolve the item and you’ll close on time without any problems.
I hope this information helps you with your walkthrough and everything goes through without a hitch. Please feel free to reach out to me for any specific questions you may have. Warren
Hello…I work with both buyers and sellers in the Tri-Valley area of Northern California. The Tri-Valley is comprised of 6 cities: Pleasanton, Livermore, Dublin, San Ramon, Danville, and Alamo. To better understand what each city has to offer, I have created a Pros and Cons video and BLOG for each – (Pros & Cons for Pleasanton, Pros & Cons for Livermore, Pros & Cons for Dublin, Pros & Cons for San Ramon, Pros & Cons for Danville and Pros & Cons for Alamo). If you are thinking about purchasing or selling a home, please reach out to me by text, phone, or email. If it is convenient, I can schedule a Zoom chat so we can discuss your home goals. Wishing you all the best on your home journey. Cheers!
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