Buyer Beware: Don't Skip Your Walk Through!

By
Real Estate Agent with RE/MAX Properties, Inc.

Homes aren't cheap - even the lower priced ones aren't cheap.  Sounds simple enough doesn't it?  Sure it does! 

Let's imagine that you have contracted to purchase your home and closing day has arrived!  What an exciting day!!  There are many details.  You need to get your cashier's check, make sure you have your photo id, sign the documents at closing, make sure the movers arrive, switch over utilities, and the "to do" list grows from there.  Even with all of the things that need to be done - don't skip your walk through!

I'm going to let you in on something your buyer's agent should be taking care of with you. In case they're not doing their job (and sometimes, unfortunately, they don't) make sure you protect yourself from getting burned. 

The last time you've been in your new home is most likely when you did the inspection.  You assume the sellers have moved out, cleaned the home, and made all of the repairs they agreed to after the inspection.  Should you assume these things?  NO!!!  I've had clients say to me, "The house was vacant when we contracted, so I'm sure it's in the same condition, right?"  My personal opinion is that a walk through is just as important (if not more so) with a vacant home as it is with an occupied home. 

Your purchase contract should contain a clause giving you the opportunity to walk through the property before closing to ensure the property is in the same condition you found it in.  One thing to understand about closing on a property is that immediately after signing on the dotted line, the house is YOURS and you are responsible for it.  Why is this so important to know? 

We're going to use our imagination a little more, ok?  (Some people call me paranoid - I call it being realistic.)  You close on your fantastic new VACANT home and head over to move some boxes in.  OH NO!  The home has been trashed by vandals sometime between the inspection and closing day.  Ok, so I've never had this happen, but could it?  You bet and wouldn't it just ruin the excitement of closing?  If you had found out before closing, the excitement would have been ruined also, but at least then it would still be the SELLER'S house and not YOURS yet!  Even though this is a slim possibility, it's still a possibility.  Don't skip your walk through!

A few years ago, I closed on a home that reminded me how incredibly important the walk through really is.  I represented the seller in this particular transaction.  This home was a steal of a deal as it needed quite a bit of updating and was priced accordingly.  The buyer was represented by a 30-year real estate veteran in my community.  She was a really nice lady, but didn't always have her head in the game unfortunately.  The day after the inspection was done, I was presented with an inspection notice that was stapled to the inspection report and referenced the report for requested repairs.  It is what I refer to as "lazy real estate" practice.  Instead of simply writing out what they wanted, the agent had written, "Please see page 3, item 2" as though writing a complete inspection notice was apparently too much work.  HA! 

After negotiating the inspection notice, the deal proceeded on.  One of the repairs was to a piece of siding with a hole in it.  The repair was completed by the seller's son, since the agent hadn't asked for a professional contractor to do it.  I saw the repair and honestly, it wasn't an awful repair, but it was obvious that it hadn't been professionally done.  The day of closing arrived and I never got a call to schedule a walk through.  We all went to closing and were done within an hour.  Everyone went on their way, including my seller, who moved out of state.

Three weeks (yes, 3 whole weeks!) after closing, the buyer's agent called me to complain about the repair that was made to the siding.  She said that it wasn't done properly.  I told her that if she had done a walkthrough of the home with her client and said something before closing, we could have discussed it then.  Since she didn't, in my opinion, this wasn't an issue that could or should be brought up three weeks after closing.  She proceeded to tell me that she was going to call her client and call me back. 

Surprise, surprise, she never called again.  I'm guessing she realized that she didn't have a leg to stand on.  Sound harsh on my part?  It might, but please keep in mind that I represented the seller on this deal and she represented the buyer.  I think I represented my seller's best interests.  Do you think she represented her buyer's best interests?  I don't.  It's unfortunate, but not an uncommon occurrence. 

Hopefully your agent will call you to schedule your walk through.  In case they don't, please be proactive and call them.  Don't skip your walk through!

 

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Show All Comments
Rainer
36,903
Richard Parr
ADT Security Services - Slidell, LA
Home Security Specialist - Greater New Orleans, Louisiana
One of the agents in my office had a listing, wrote a contract, and everything went well...until the final walk through.  It seems that the buyer's agent had written and negotiated a contract for the WRONG property.  Not that the agent was poor, but the subject property was in a condo building with multiple units for sale and you know how they all look alike after a while.  The buyers could have been confused about which one they wanted too.  Could you imagine if that agent had not done the final walk through?
Mar 25, 2007 12:49 PM #1
Rainer
21,451
Irene Potter
John L. Scott - Maple Valley, WA
Creating moving experiences in real estate
Last year, my buyers had to be convinced to do a 3 day walkthrough and found that work requested by the seller after the inspection had no been performed. Fortunately we were able to hold up the closing until the work was performed.
Mar 25, 2007 01:12 PM #2
Rainmaker
655,545
Jim & Maria Hart
Brand Name Real Estate - Charleston, SC
Charleston, SC Real Estate

We once had a client that was so laid back that he really didn't care about the final walk thru.  The house he was purchasing was an older home that was part of an estate (the kids were selling it and really didn't care, either).  Jim and I decided to walk thru the home the morning of closing since there were a few things that were suppose to be done. 

In the contract, we negotiated tat the refrigerator would be part of the sale.  Since the owners had passed away, the kids had not really moved much of the furniture out of the home by the previous time we saw the house.  When we went by to check everything out, we noticed that the refrigerator was gone.  We called the listing agent to find out what had happened, and it seems that the kids had a yard sale to get rid of all the stuff they didn't want, and that included the fridge!  Needless to say, it cost them more to buy a new one than they received for the old one.  Good thing we checked everything out prior to closing!

Mar 25, 2007 01:37 PM #3
Rainmaker
146,327
Chris Webster
Island Palms Realty - North Myrtle Beach, SC
Myrtle Beach Real Estate, Foreclosures and Short S
I highly suggest a final walk through!!! I don't do them for my clients, but with them instead. Never assume something is fixed or fixed correct.
Mar 25, 2007 05:47 PM #4
Rainmaker
1,375,891
Donna Harris
Donna Homes, PLR - Austin, TX
Realtor, CDPE & ASP - Hill Country Lakeway Austin
WHy isn't everyone asking for invoices of repairs prior to closing?  Even with repairs that are supposed to be done by the seller and not a professional, I take pictures to show the repair was done.  Wood replaced or window replaced or a picture of a dirty filter to show it was taken out... etc...  We don't trust anyone in this market and we want all proof of repairs WAY prior to closing.
Mar 25, 2007 06:16 PM #5
Rainmaker
162,416
Suzanne Sands
Pavao Real Estate - Somerset, MA
Somerset MA Real Estate
Great post Michele-I always advocate a final walk through.
Mar 25, 2007 06:31 PM #6
Anonymous
Anonymous
jackie hancock

I purchased a home thru a government loan for low income people (I am 58) I paid to have the house inspected and one of the repairs is a problem with the foundation, 3 blocks are out from the wall about 1" and they had spray foam around them.  The inspector said the foam was to be scraped out and a hydrolic pump was to be used to put concrete around the blocks......instead the owner just put more foam around the blocks and my realitor did not have the house re-inspected (obviously).  I asked for a walk through before closing and was told that the door lock had been changed and so I could not get in until I closed and got the key but she assured me that all the work had been done.

Now they are all ignoring me and won't do anything to get it fixed! I certainly cannot afford it. should I call a lawyer?  Do I have any rights in this matter.  There are other things I am finding like he plastered the ceilings OVER ceiling tiles and now the plaster is crumbling and I am stuck with the expense of getting these fixed.  I am a widow and disabled and cannot afford all of this.  The place that did the government loan told me it is up to the realitor to take care of this and the realitor gave me the brushoff with a letter telling me in essence TO BAD.  Please help

May 27, 2011 08:09 PM #7
Rainmaker
1,375,891
Donna Harris
Donna Homes, PLR - Austin, TX
Realtor, CDPE & ASP - Hill Country Lakeway Austin

Jackie, Sorry for what you're going through. I'm not sure why you think it would be the Realtor who would order a re-inspection of the property. That's your responsibility if you want one done. I've never had a buyer do a re-inspection.  If you have a contract which the seller signed, and the repairs were not done like specified and agreed to, your contract should have "mediation" in place, or take him to small claims court. Your contract will tell you what rights you have, and it's up to you to go after your rights. If the Realtor was told the work was completed, I'm not sure why you would think he could do anything else except tell you to follow what your contract says f there are any disputes.

May 27, 2011 08:26 PM #8
Rainer
21,451
Irene Potter
John L. Scott - Maple Valley, WA
Creating moving experiences in real estate

@Donna: I personally have always requested invoices prior to closing and periodically have held up a closing untill work was performed. That was partly how we caught the sellers on the closing I referenced above, which was several years back. In a more sale, the REO listing agent did not have water on when we did the prelim inspection. We had the local water district turn the water on and found out the home had been improperly winterized. A reinspect was a must for my client's peace of mind  so we did go back and check it again to make sure that the water leak resulting was fixed by the company that was doing maintenance on the REO. This was resolved satisfactorily and we were able to proceed to close.

I am sorry that I missed Jackie's comment several weeks ago. When a buyer and their agent find out about serious issues during an inspection, the best thing to do is decide if the house is worth buying. You should have an option to terminate the contract if anything about the property needs to be fixed and the seller refuses to repair. In some states, I know there is no buyer representation so you may have had an agent who was representing the seller. I can't be sure. This is the only reason that the brush off could be justified in my mind. For the record, I am in Washington State where we have buyers agents. If the seller agreed to do repairs and failed to perform, you should be able to terminate on those grounds as well. If you went through with the sale and it has closed, less recourse is available and I would consult an attorney with regards to your options.

Jun 19, 2011 08:19 PM #9
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Rainer
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Michele Webb

ABR, QSC
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