5 Tips for Your Pre-Settlement Walk-Through

Rick Sheppard
Published on January 18, 2022

5 Tips for Your Pre-Settlement Walk-Through

One of the most important steps in the process of buying a home is the final walk-through.  This is where the buyer can confirm the house is in the same condition he/she has agreed to in their home purchase agreement.  It’s also an opportunity to ensure that the agreed upon repairs, if any, were made as specified and nothing has gone wrong with the house since he/she last looked at it.

Sometimes, home buyers do not pay enough attention to the final walk-through because they’re too excited about finally closing on a home purchase.  This can be particularly true if it has taken a while to find the right home for them.

It is smart to take the walk-through seriously and to think things through.  Do not see it as just checking a box.  During the walk through you should open all the faucets and inspect them for leaks.  Ensure that the appliances work, turn heat and/or air conditioning on and off, flush the toilet and open every window to its fullest, then check to see that they are working properly.

Below are some tips for buyers to help them complete an effective and smooth walk-through.

  1. Avoid a walk-through on the closing day 

A walk-through can lead to the discovery of repairs that have to be made, but that you did not know about before.  If you do the walk through on the same day as the closing, you might not have enough time to have the problems resolved.

It isn’t uncommon for two walk-throughs to occur prior to a home purchase.  The first identifies some problems for the buyer, and the second ensures those problems were addressed by the seller.

Of course, you might be able to push back the closing so that the issues can be addressed.  However, that might not be possible if your lender doesn’t approve the delay.  Bottom line: it is generally better to thrash out any issues well in advance of the settlement date.

  1. Use your cell phone and charger to check the outlets

Plug a phone and charger in and out of the electrical outlets so that you can ensure that the electricity works.  Quick and easy.  You want to avoid moving in your belongings, only to realize that some of the outlets do not work.

  1. Have an eye for junk left behind by sellers

Sometimes, sellers may be too caught up in moving to their new home and they may forget to remove their old household junk.  You should take the time to check the attic, under the deck and garage.  The sellers might just assume that you want to use their old paint cans or an old propane tank.  And maybe you do… but maybe you don’t.

In fact, the seller should leave the house completely empty.  Some of the left behind items, like the paint, can be toxic or may require special provisions for their disposal.

  1. Ask for keys, alarm codes, garage openers and manuals 

Before completing the final walk-through, be sure to ask for working keys to all the doors, garage openers, alarm codes, and any system or appliance manuals.  It is also a good idea to ask the seller for copies of receipts for any promised repairs.

  1. Be emotionally prepared for a surprise

Buyers normally fall in love with a house that is full of belongings, furniture and art. They see it as a welcoming home and remember the  warm feeling they received when they first toured the home.

Fast forward to the pre-settlement walk-through and settlement day.  The now empty house can feel rather hollow and cold.

Buyers are usually surprised by how they feel when they enter an empty home.  Besides the emptiness that is created by the absence of furniture, some imperfections may show up – carpet stains, mildly bleached doors, holes on walls which were previously covered by paintings or a television screen, etc.  An empty house tends to show poorly; hence you should prepare yourself mentally before the walk-through.

The journey towards owning a home is usually a long one, filled with ups and downs and lots of excitement. The final walk-through is one of the last steps of what may end up being a long home purchase process.

Consider the walk-through well in advance and prepare for it physically, mentally and emotionally.  Know what you are looking for, make a list of all the things that you need to check, and keep your feelings and emotions in mind… and in check.

The author, Rick Sheppard, is a licensed real estate broker with RE/MAX Achievers, Inc in Pennsylvania and a 30+ year veteran of the real estate trenches.  He knows a lot because he’s seen a lot.  If you have any questions about this or any real estate related topic, feel free to contact Rick at [email protected]m and he’ll do his best to answer your questions.

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