by Dan Krell © 2006
A Final Walk Through Is Not Always A Walk in the Park
So your home inspection went well. The pest inspection came out all right. Everything is a go with your financing, and the title is clear. Settlement is two weeks away, are you excited about your home purchase? You should be-congratulations! Although everything looks perfect, don’t take your final walk through lightly.
As a home buyer, you have the right to inspect your purchase prior to settlement. As a matter of fact, both the Maryland Association of Realtors (MAR) contract and the Greater Capital Association of Realtors (GCAAR) regional contract have clauses that state your right as a homebuyer to receive the home in the same condition as the day you contracted to purchase the home.
Each clause, although worded slightly differently, states that the home will be delivered to the home buyer free of debris and that all mechanicals, cooling, heating, plumbing, electrical systems, and smoke detectors to be in operating order at time of possession (usually settlement). The MAR contract states that the home buyer can inspect the property up to five days prior to settlement. Both contracts’ make allowances for additional provisions which include home and environmental inspections.
Ok, so there are provisions for the final walk through in my contract, but what is the purpose of having a final walk through and what should I be looking for? The general reasons for having a final walking through is to ensure (among other things) that the home has not been damaged between contract ratification and settlement, that all the seller’s possessions and all trash are removed, items to remain are actually in the home, all mechanical systems and appliances are operational, and that all repairs listed from your home inspection were completed.
Your Realtor should provide you with a checklist of items to be checked by both of you during the final walk through. Generally, you should be looking for cosmetic and structural changes to the home which include damage to walls, staircases, and doors that occurred during the seller’s move prior to settlement; any items that should have been removed by the seller but left behind; and any item that was removed by the seller but should have remained in the home. Additionally, you should check the operation of appliances, air conditioning or heating (depending on the time of year), and any electrical devices including smoke detectors. Finally, you should check that the seller has completed all repairs as agreed in the home inspection addendum.
Having a final walk through is just as important when you are purchasing a new home as when purchasing an older home. The builder will schedule a final walk through with you and your Realtor. When having your final walk through on a new home, the builder will check that all the mechanicals, heating, cooling, appliances are operational. Additionally, they will check that any customization that you ordered is correct. You should point out any cosmetic defects, such as dings in the wall, unevenness in paint colors, or any thing else that is not satisfactory. The builder is usually happy to repair or replace items until satisfactory.
If while conducting your final walk through you notice a problem with the dishwasher, what can you do about it? Occasionally, when conducting a final walk through, there are some problems. For example, it is not uncommon for the air conditioning to fail in the summer, or one item from the home inspection addendum was not repaired. If that happens, you have a couple of options. Your first option is to ask the seller for a monetary credit at settlement so you can make the repairs after settlement. Your other option is to delay settlement until the seller makes the necessary repairs.
This column is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice.
This column was originally published in the Montgomery County Sentinel 11/14/2005. Copyright 2006 Dan Krell.