One of the last steps before closing — in fact, sometimes done on the way to closing* — is the Buyer’s walk-thru.
To my mind, at least, the Buyer’s walk-thru has these five goals:
One. Determine that there’s been no change in the home’s condition since the Inspection Contingency was removed.
What can happen to a house in 4-6 weeks (the usual interval between the Buyer’s Inspection and Closing)?
Unfortunately, in severe climates like the Upper Midwest, A LOT; things such as ice dams, hail damage, and flooded basements all come to mind.
Assuming that the home isn’t being sold “As Is,” “no change in condition” also means that the home’s HVAC and appliances are also still in working order.
Two. Make sure that there is no damage that may have been concealed by the owner’s furniture, floor coverings, etc.
If the hardwood floors under the Oriental rug in the Living Room have typical wear-and-tear, no problem. See, “How to Blow a Seller’s Goodwill — and a $150 Closing Gift.”
However, if there’s a big gouge, well . . .
Three. Determine that the home is being left reasonably clean.
As I tell my selling clients, the Golden Rule governs this one — namely, what condition would make you happy if you were moving in?
Four. Make sure that what is supposed to be left, is left (e.g., appliances, window treatments, etc.); and that whatever is supposed to be removed (old paint cans, misc. debris), is gone. See also, “The Moving Van Test.”
Five. Verify that any Seller repairs that were negotiated pursuant to the Inspection Contingency have in fact been performed.
Trust But Verify
Technically, the Seller has an ongoing duty to update their Disclosure (at least in Minnesota) through closing.
And Sellers will often document any negotiated repairs — at least ones being performed by contractors — well ahead of the walk-thru.
However, sometimes Sellers honestly don’t know of a problem until the Buyer discovers it doing their walk-thru.
When can that happen?
When the Seller is relocating to another city, and already moved out well before closing (and presumably is pre-signing vs. attending the closing).
*I don’t recommend doing the walk-thru just prior to closing, because there’s no time to resolve any problem(s) that come to light.