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When buying a home, your final walk through will be your last opportunity to make sure everything is in good shape. Once the home is yours, you don’t want any surprises. It’s important to take this task seriously, as its your last thing to do before you become the owner. If there have been updates or repairs of any kind to the home, you’ll want to be sure and inspect and check them out. The seller typically should have already moved out when you head to your final walkthrough, so you should expect not to be visiting a home still lived in.

Print and bring a checklist with you so you don’t forget anything. Don’t let this list intimidate you. According to RedFin it’s important this process is done right by the homebuyer, “While this can seem like a lot of items to double-check, you’ll be glad you took the time to do it right. Unfortunately, things can and do happen during the move-out process, while the house sits vacant or because the homeowner or tradesperson failed to complete a repair correctly.”

Items you’ll want to bring to your final walkthrough

First, you’ll want to make sure you bring a printed copy of your final checklist and then these items to assist your self inspection:

  • Mask, hand sanitizer and any other PPE. Bring anything you’ll need in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Medications. If you have severe allergies, especially to pets, bring allergy medicine if the former home owner owned pets you might have been allergic to.
  • Notepad, sticky notes, pen & highlighter. Be sure as you complete your checklist you have all the tools you need to observe any issues that arise. Sticky notes work great to leave a note on something you find that needs to be addressed.
  • Clipboard. Bring a clipboard to make it easy to make notes on your paper as you tour the home.
  • Cell phone & charger. You may need to take photos of something so make sure your phone is ready to go. Consider bringing a back up battery for charging your phone.
  • Camera. If you don’t have a reliable cell phone, bring a camera. Borrow one from a friend if necessary.
  • Tools. You may want to bring a few basic tools with you like a measuring tape, flashlight to check in dark places, and blue tape to mark anything you don’t want to forget.
  • Your final contract. This contract will tell you what will and what won’t be in the home when it is turned over to you. Things like window coverings, appliances, shelving, etc. Be sure to make note of any shelving, etc. that you’ll need to replace.
  • Your real estate agent. Having them help walk you through the process is super helpful, especially if they are experienced, they know what to look for.
  • The home inspection report – You can use it to review the issues flagged by the inspector and check if the seller completed the negotiated repairs. Make sure to double check any repairs that were promised.
hand with magnifying glass over house

Everything to look for during your final home walkthrough

  • Cleanliness. The home should be in broom clean condition. If not, you maybe able to request the home be cleaned properly. Check that trash and garbage have been removed and any construction debris is gone.
  • Verify final repairs. Make sure that all the negotiated repairs have been completed, with proof of receipt validating that the work was taken care of, together with the date. Make sure warranties and any related paperwork has been included for you.
  • Make sure there are no new maintenance issues. Make sure nothing new has popped up since the final inspection. Consider something like a hail storm, or something else that could have caused damage to the home.
  • Check appliances. All appliances included in the sale should be clean and functioning properly. Your purchase agreement will state which exact appliances were included in the home of the sale.
  • Check home fixtures. All fixtures, such as doorknobs, cabinet handles, shelving etc., should be included unless it was indicated in writing that they will be the property of the seller.  Check extras like window dressings, shelving etc that may or may not be included.
  • New Construction inspection. If you’re buying a new build, make sure to be extra careful looking for defects and other cosmetic issues. Everything from paint touch ups, to any unfinished carpentry that needs to be completed. Use your blue tape to mark anything you want the builder to see.

Things you’ll want to inspect during your final walkthrough

Finally! Your big day is here and the home is almost yours. ALMOST. Here are all the things to check out just to be sure.

  • Open all windows and doors. Make sure they work, and are compliant. Check for older homes that the windows haven’t been painted shut. You want to be sure your home is safe before you move in and isn’t a few hazard. Make sure all windows are unbroken and include screens, and latches for closing and locking.
  • Check for required smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, and carbon monoxide detectors. Some states require these and some don’t. If they aren’t required for your new home, mark your list to acquire them before you move in. Safety first!
  • Inspect the bathrooms. Make sure the bathrooms are clean, and free from mold and water damage. Check for free standing water in the bathroom. Turn on sinks, flush the toilet, make sure the sinks, tubs and shower drain correctly. Test all faucets and the shower heads to make sure they have both hot and cold water.
  • Review the kitchen. Look for damage under the sink, run the water, run the garbage disposal. Pay careful attention. Open all the cabinets, check out the refrigerator. Run the exhaust fans or extractor fans in the kitchen, check light switches. Test all the appliances.
  • Check electrical outlets. Plug your phone charger in every electrical outlet to make sure they’re functional in every room of the house. Check outlet plates for damage. If outlets aren’t working you’ll want to verify any deeper problems with electrical wiring. If you suspect the home has electrical issues, consider bringing an item other than your phone to test outlets with. A small plug-in item like a clock or nightlight to check the outlets.
  • Security systems. Test out all garage doors, doorbells, cameras and any smart security systems.
  • Heating / air conditioning. Turn on both the heat and air conditioner and confirm they work. Check out the control pads and units, for a final once over look from you. If units are new, ensure all paperwork and warranties have been left for you.
  • Inspect basements, attics and crawlspaces. Don’t forget these often overlooked areas. Have the spaces been cleared out and emptied? Do you see any signs of exposed plumbing? Are there any clues that pests have been living in your future home?
  • Tour the Outside / Landscaping. Take a look outside and make sure everything looks right. Check the plants, grass, landscaping and any watering systems that might be in place. Turn on outside faucets and sprinkler systems. Check and test all gates, sunshades, and irrigation systems. Look up, do the gutters and roof look sound and intact from the ground level? Is the mailbox intact?
  • Garage. Inspect the garage, make sure the garage door openers have been left for you. Check for old paint cans, if you were expecting them to be removed. Or, check for retouching paint if you were expecting some to be left for you.
  • Check for pests. Check for little crawlers, and signs of termites, etc. Things like nests, dead animals, dry rot, animal droppings, spongey floors, crumbly timbers and more can be signs of pests. If you find pests, discuss with your real estate agent to make a plan.

Practice patience and take your time with your walkthrough

Buying a home is an exciting time. Don’t rush your final walkthrough and try to enjoy it. The property will soon be yours and this is your last full look over before it’s all yours. After you have reached the end of your checklist, talk with your real estate agent about your findings. They will help you identify if they are items that need to be presented to the seller, or if you’re all clear and ready to go! Some of the smaller items may be a list that you’ll address yourself after moving in.

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