Congratulations on getting through inspections and all the work that goes into your mortgage! Closing day is upon you and your final task is the “Walk Through”. This is your chance to make sure nothing has happened to the house between the time you saw it last and now.
According to the Rhode Island Association of Realators Purchase and Sales Agreement:
Seller shall deliver to Buyer at closing full occupancy and possession of the property in “broom clean” condition, free and clear of personal possessions (except those that are listed in Section 8 as included with the sale), except as agreed below. At closing, Seller shall convey the property in the same condition in which is is on the date of this Agreement, except for reasonable use and wear and/or any improvements or repairs required by this Agreement. Buyer shall be entitled to a final walkthrough of the property prior to delivery of the deed in order to determine whether the condition of the Property complies with the terms of this section. (emphasis added for clarity)
That’s not a lot of information, is it? This blog will help you understand what you should be expecting from your Real Estate Agent or Broker and the Seller in last visit to your property before the closing date.
The Purpose of the Walk Through
There is often a substantial amount of time between the Inspection date for the property and the date that all the documents are signed and the deed is recorded (the “Closing”). A lot can happen in that period of time.
- The Sellers’ movers can cause damage during the move
- Sellers may leave all of their trash and discarded debris
- Sellers may take appliances that are listed to convey
- Investment property may have tenants that don’t leave the place clean or actually take things that should be conveyed (yes, dishwashers have been magically disappeared in this time period),
- If a Seller is selling due to financial difficulties they may be unhappy – Seller can be vindictive leaving the property filthy
- It can be as innocuous as the giant couch the seller couldn’t get out the door and left for the buyer to handle, or as problematic as a windstorm taking a tree down and depositing it on the property the night before closing!
The final walkthrough is the Buyers’ LAST chance to be sure that when closing is complete there are as few surprises as possible.
Prepare Yourself for an Effective Walkthrough
A good walk through can take as little as 10 minutes or as long as an hour. It depends on the size of the house, how much furniture was in the house when you purchased it, how many repairs or corrections were requested and how many items you decide to check.
While this is not your opportunity to perform another inspection, it is your chance to make sure the major mechanicals are all still functioning properly and the moving parts are all still moving smoothly. Think windows and doors, heat and A/C, tubs, toilets and faucets.
With the new TRID rules that came into effect October 2015 there is a school of thought saying inspections should occur at least three days before closing. The idea is that if there is a substantial issue that requires funds be held in escrow or some other negotiation that will affect the final numbers on the HUD or Settlement statement, you need the three day cushion in order to comply with the disclosure rules and not delay your closing unnecessarily.
The flip side of this argument is that you want to inspect your house as close to the closing date as possible so that you have a very small window between the last time you saw the property and when you signed your documents. In our market, Newport and Rhode Island in general, it’s more common to schedule the walk through either the day of closing or the day immediately prior if time requires.
Bring a copy of your Purchase & Sales Agreement with you, along with any Repair Requests or Addendums. You can ask your agent to bring everything if you signed electronically as many do now. This will help remind you of any requests for repairs that were made and any agreements.
It’s too late now to request any items that were on the Inspection Report but not negotiated as part of the Repair Request.
Start outside. Check the mailbox and make sure there are no keys or other odds ands. The seller may not have remember to submit an address forwarding request. Is there a warning notice for unpaid utilities or other bills?
Check for any pink flamingos or lawn furniture you didn’t want to convey.
Look for broken windows or doors, or damage to a garage or driveway from moving trucks. Were any utilities boxes broken off the side of the house during the move?
Check to make sure all the garage door openers, any keys for padlocks on sheds or outside doors or mailboxes, any keys or remotes or gas fireplaces, collars for invisible dog fences or other items that should convey. It can be tough to get these items after the documents are signed.
Is the water and power on if they should be?
Is the house vacant and empty of all items that are not to convey?
Are all appliances in place if they should convey, and are they the appliances you agreed upon and viewed during showings?
Is it clean? Many Sellers will have the property professionally cleaned for you which is a GREAT act of kindness. What does your agreement require?
Remedy for Problems: The most common solution to a problem is to request funds to be held in escrow until such time as the Seller corrects a problem. You can also use those funds to compensate yourself for correcting a problem.
For example, the house mentioned above that was so filthy? It cost $900+ to have it thoroughly cleaned, it was that bad. The buying agent can tell the listing agent that the closing will be delayed until such time as the seller cleans the house or until the Buyer hires appropriate vendors to clean on the seller’s behalf.
If you have a REAL big problem (a tree fell on the house, the pipes burst and the house is flooded, a car ran through the living room) the appropriate action is to delay closing until a suitable remedy is found. In extreme cases, you may be able to declare the contract void if the house cannot be returned to the state in which it was at contract.