One of the worst mistakes a FSBO [For Sale by Owner] can make is not utilizing the “Final Walk-through” option…
A final walk-through is not a home inspection… it’s a personal inspection performed by the buyer or the buyer’s representative. Especially if you have purchased your new home privately, this is a responsibility to which you want to pay attention. This walk-through is usually performed 2-5 days prior to the closing date. And it’s a good practice of any buyer to actually write this into their Offer to Purchase contract. Without including this stipulation in the contract, the seller can actually decline your request.
The primary purpose of the walk-through is to ensure that the house you agreed to buy is actually in the condition promised! Conducting this ‘walk-through inspection’ provides the buyer with some reassurances that they are paying a fair amount for the home, and that they are somewhat insulated from unexpected repairs in the near future.
One of the main purposes of a walk-through is to make sure any and all repairs have been made to the home, as negotiated through the Purchase Agreement or the Home Inspection Report. Another purpose is to make sure the owner has not damaged the home since the professional home inspection. The most common example is move-out damages on floors, walls, and doors. This is also your opportunity to ensure all inclusions in accordance to the Offer to Purchase are still on the property. Items such as appliances, sheds or other agreed-upon items are sometimes loaded by moving companies by error. As well, there has been the odd case of ‘exchanged appliances’, in which the seller takes out the stainless steel appliances, leaving an apartment-sized replacement instead. In sum, the home itself is expected to be delivered to the buyer in the same condition as it was viewed. So, if the carpets are dirty when you first view the home, and do not negotiate/verify they are to be cleaned prior to possession… then you can expect the same dirty carpets when you receive your keys.
Many times sellers don’t move out until the last possible day, so it may be difficult to see all aspects of the home in the same manner you would be able to if the home was vacant. But once the money has transferred, it’s almost impossible to demand repairs… it’s just too late. Make sure to negotiate all repairs before money exchanges hands- that way, you have some leverage if things are not to your contracted expectations.
Finally, here’s a quick check list to use as a guide:
- Turn every light in the house on… test fans too!
- Run all water taps, showers, look for leaks/drainage
- Flush all toilets
- Open all cupboards, slide all drawers
- Test all appliances
- Open/close and lock all doors
- Check garage doors and openers
- Inspect all ceilings and walls
- Run garbage disposals and exhaust fans
- Open/close all windows… check screens too!
- Turn on furnace and air conditioning units
- Look for linoleum tears, carpet stains
- Has all “junk” been removed?
Now, don’t forget the outside!
- Is the shed still there?
- Are the patio blocks missing?
- Was the play center included?
And last but not least… Did the seller truly leave everything that the contract stated? For example: Are the wall mirrors missing? Have the light fixtures been changed? Wall units removed? TV mount? Window coverings, etc.?
As a buyer, it’s important that you get exactly what you think you’re paying for in a home. For more on buying, check out the Canadian Home Find Buyer’s Guide … and save yourself thousands in costly mistakes.