Guest Blog Post by Cara Ameer
THESE BOOTS WERE MADE FOR WALKING… THROUGH THAT IS.
One of the last pieces that a buyer does before going to closing is to “walk though” the house. What exactly is a walk through and what should happen?
A walk through is the last milestone prior to closing where a buyer visually inspects the property to ensure what they are buying is in substantially the same condition as when they first saw it, and to check on the completion of any negotiated repairs or replacements that were agreed upon to be made.
Everyone has come a long way from contract offer to acceptance, financing, inspections, getting through the appraisal and now one last check before documents are signed and keys are handed over.
Because it is one of the last things prior to closing, it can often be a rushed process as sellers are often hurriedly trying to vacate, etc. This part of the transaction is often the least prepared for and least coached about the proper way to leave a property upon move out:
So, let’s talk about seller and buyer do’s and don’ts:
TIME – Plan ahead and give yourself more time than you think. Plan to be moved out two to three days BEFORE the closing. This will give you some extra time for any last minute things that need to be taken care of. The process often takes longer than what you think.
EMPTY – The house should be completely empty when the buyers walk through. Buyers are expecting to see a totally VACANT house. Empty means empty –nothing lingering behind or in “a don’t know what to do with” pile.
CLEAN – Leave the home THOROUGHLY CLEAN and not just surface level clean. Make arrangements to have the home professionally cleaned once you move out. The buyers will appreciate it and it is one less thing you will have to take care of. This also means having carpets professionally taken care of as well. Don’t forget inside the cabinets and the oven – yes – buyers look inside of that during the walkthrough –even if you last used it a year ago! Things will be that more exposed in a vacant home setting.
UNWANTED ITEMS – Don’t leave unwanted items behind in the garage or attic – those areas seem to be a repository for things like old paint, doors, broken hoses, tires….. if you don’t want them, the buyer likely does not either. Make plans to dispose of these things well in advance of your moving day – especially anything deemed hazardous.
MANUALS – Put all manuals for appliances, controls, etc. in one drawer and gather all keys and remotes and have those in one package for the buyer. Label any keys and where they go – the buyer will appreciate knowing what goes to what doors –especially if all are different. It is also nice to leave a list of any particular instructions, details about the house, garbage collection day(s), etc. for the buyer. A vendor list also helpful to leave behind – even if buyer got your list in advance of the closing, being in transition will help to have important information easily accessible.
TRASH – This needs to be taken away BEFORE the walk through, not left behind for the new owner to deal with. Make arrangements to take to a neighbors or arrange for a special pick up if your closing date is between trash pick-up days.
DAMAGE- Move out damage – this can often create stress at the end when a buyer notices a gauge or ding. If something is damaged during move-out, promptly notify your agent so they can advise the buyer’s agent. Have a plan in place to get it repaired – this can often happen with movers and walls, floor scratches. Be sure to take care on surfaces like wood floors.
And one last thing… sometimes floors are faded when area rugs are picked up –be sure to check this BEFORE you put the house on the market :)
BUYERS – Stay flexible… this may not be a perfect process.
A walkthrough can be a rushed situation as it is right before closing and you have a ton of things going through your mind. Recommend having your original inspectors come back to check any inspection repairs that were made PRIOR to the walkthrough. It can be very difficult to check all repairs yourself, even if you have a receipt right before closing. Some items may be difficult to determine or may not be the most accessible. Leave this to the professionals that did the inspection in the first place. There is usually a charge for a reinspection but it is WELL worth it. Can’t put a price on eliminating doubt.
If incomplete repairs are found, have inspector document their findings and submit to the listing agent immediately to issue(s) can be rectified. Reputable contractors warrant their work and should not have an issue coming back out to address.
Don’t plan to start moving things in prior to closing – you legally don’t own the home and there could be issues with insurance coverage in case something happened between the time you placed your belongings in or on the property until the closing. While it may not seem a big deal to bring over “a few boxes” – this could create some potential liability issues if something went wrong. You may need some interim storage arrangements.
Arrange if time allows to meet with the sellers prior to closing so they can orient you with the home and go through how things work.
Cara Ameer is with Coldwell Banker Vanguard Realty in Pontre Vedra Beach, Florida