The Final Walkthrough – When, Why and How It’s Done

Real Estate Agent with RealtyQuest, Fairfield and New Haven County CT Real Estate RES.0781237

Buyers - What You Should Look For on the Walk ThroughAfter all the houses you looked at and all the steps you had to take to finally get to closing day on your new home, there's one last thing homebuyers must do....


The final walkthrough.  


When exactly should you do it?


Why are you doing it?




How should you do it?




I always do the walkthrough with my clients on the day of closing. Anything can happen from one day to the next.  What if you did the walkthrough the day before and then it rained hard non-stop over the next 24 hours, you closed and THEN found, as a new homeowner, there was significant water seepage in the basement?  Nope… always best to walk through as close to closing as possible.



The seller should have already vacated the premises.  Why?  Well if not, you cannot be sure that personal items in the house will be left behind for you to deal with.  You also want to make sure everything you expect to be in the house, per the contract, is there and has not been removed.  For example, if the contract stated the washer and dryer are included, then they must be there.




So why are you doing this again?  You had the property inspected by a home inspector. You possibly asked for some repairs which may already have been verified by you and your agent. So why are you checking again?



The main purpose of the final walkthrough is to ensure the property is in the condition you expect it to be, with any negotiated repairs completed, and nothing has changed (except for normal wear and tear) since the contract was made.




Remember Buyers … This is not the home inspection.  This is not a time to make out a punch list of things you think need to be fixed.  That ship has sailed.  IF you find something not as expected per contract or repair agreement then report this to the listing agent/attorney.  It might be possible to work it out before closing and to the satisfaction of the buyers.  Otherwise, the attorneys may hold money in escrow for the estimated expense.




Just how should a walkthrough be done? What do you do?


Here are basic guidelines I follow on the walkthrough, where applicable:


  • Using a copy of the contract, check to be sure all items listed are in place (i.e., appliances, lighting fixtures, window treatments, etc.)

  • Turn all lights on and off - interior and exterior

  • Test all appliances

  • Run exhaust fans in kitchen and baths

  • Run garbage disposal

  • Run ceiling fans

  • Test heating and air conditioning (weather permitting)

  • Run water in sinks and bath and look for leaks

  • Open and close all doors and windows

  • Flush toilets

  • Inspect ceilings, wall and floors

  • Check garage door openers

  • Check basement and attic for items left behind and water seepage/leaking

  • Make sure all owner's personal belongings are removed from the property except any agreed to be left.



Here are three real life examples from my experience off the top of my head on the importance of a walkthrough …


  1. After running the water and flushing the toilets, we found a main floor bath had a significant leak and was creating a pool of water in the basement.   

  2. Sellers left a significant amount of ‘things’ in the basement and garage for the buyers. none of which the buyers agreed to.  Some of things left were paint cans, broken shelving, old gas grill, gas propane tank, huge storage unit on its last legs ...  plus more.   

  3. Range/oven was not working. It was during home inspection.



In all of the above situations monies were held back in escrow and all were worked out shortly afterward.



What about the exterior?  Check to be sure there are no unwanted items left behind. If there is garbage at the curb waiting for a pickup or a full dumpster in the driveway, be sure that it will be removed (and paid for) prior to closing.  If there is a lot of acreage, walk the property to be sure it is as expected.



Although the walkthrough is not mandatory, it should never be passed up by the buyers provided there is a provision for it in the contract.




Re-Blogged 1 time:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Barbara Todaro 11/11/2017 10:51 AM
Home Buying
Connecticut Fairfield County
1st Time Buyers
Advice for Buyers
closing day
walkthrough before closing
walkthrough issues

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Carol Williams
U.S.: I specialize in helping agents who have been in the business 2 years or less create a thriving business. - Wenatchee, WA
"Customized Mentoring & Marketing Services"

Excellent post, Barb.  Thank you!

Nov 11, 2017 10:56 AM #1
John Wiley
Jones & Co. Realty - Fort Myers, FL
Lee County, FL Real Estate GRI, SRES,GREEN,PSA

Barbara, this is a great post that should be put in the hands of all buyers.


Nov 11, 2017 11:31 AM #2
Debe Maxwell, CRS | The Maxwell House Group | RE/MAX Executive | (704) 491-3310 - Charlotte, NC
Charlotte Homes for Sale - Charlotte Neighborhoods

Every. Single. Buyer...should read this, Barbara! It seems that so many think it's okay to skip the walk-through these days - I just don't get it! I'll have to share this with buyers thinking of skipping this very important step in the process. It's a small investment of time that can save you lots of money!

Great post, Barbara!

Nov 11, 2017 02:03 PM #3
Corey Martin
Martin Presence Group - Ruston, LA
Real Estate and Management Solutions

This is great information. I agree with Debe Maxwell, CRS, every buyer should read this. Thanks for sharing!

Nov 11, 2017 05:21 PM #4
Jeff Dowler
Solutions Real Estate - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude - Carlsbad

Hi Barbara

This is excellent and should be read by all buyers. Some don't seem to feel the walk-through is important but there are certainly plenty of real world examples to show how important it IS!


Nov 11, 2017 06:25 PM #5
Barbara Altieri
RealtyQuest, Fairfield and New Haven County CT Real Estate - Shelton, CT
REALTOR-Fairfield County CT Homes/Condos For Sale

Carol Williams You're welcome. Happy you liked it.

John Wiley We may think they know, but many times they are unsure as to what the process is for and why.

Debe Maxwell, CRS I recently had someone who said he just didn't have the time. I made sure he found some time! Thanks!

Corey Martin Yes, buyers need to understand why this process is so important.

Jeff Dowler Yes, I am sure there are those who have skipped it and are sorry they did!

Nov 11, 2017 06:52 PM #6
Betsy N. Robinson - Serving the Sandhills, NC
Everything Pines Partners, LLC. - Whispering Pines, NC

Yes, the final walk is a crucial part of the process.  You have outlined a comprehensive list of items for all to follow.  Thank you.

Nov 12, 2017 04:01 AM #7
Richie Alan Naggar
people first...then business Ran Right Realty - Riverside, CA
agent & author

& people want to FSBO/BBO? There is just too much to know as this post proves

Nov 12, 2017 06:48 AM #9
Debb Janes EcoBroker and Bernie Stea JD
ViewHomes of Clark County - Nature As Neighbors - Camas, WA
REALTORS® in Clark County, WA

We went through a situation where the seller wouldn't honor a walk-through prior to the close.  The listing agent assured us the house was in order, they were just too busy until the last minute. When we finally got the keys, the house condition wasn't horrible, but it wasn't great either. We always write it into the contract now. 

Nov 12, 2017 06:54 AM #10
Walt Fish
Bay Area Home Inspection, LLC - Marquette, MI
Upper Michigan's Most Experienced Home Inspector

very good info. I'd add another thing to check:  Make sure all the appliances negotiated to stay with the home are the same ones that were there during the home inspection. I've seen washers, ranges, fridges all switched out with cheaper ones before closing. Then my customers ask me if I have any pictures of what was there during the inspection.


Nov 12, 2017 04:18 PM #11
Mary Jo Quay
Remax Advisors - Minneapolis, MN

One time we found that the piano was left in the garage, buyer did not want it.  Seller's agent said that the seller had no way to take it with them.  I reminded the agent that they had just picked up their hot tub. 

Nov 12, 2017 06:05 PM #12
Barbara Altieri
RealtyQuest, Fairfield and New Haven County CT Real Estate - Shelton, CT
REALTOR-Fairfield County CT Homes/Condos For Sale

Betsy N. Robinson - Serving the Sandhills, NC Yes, it can be very crucial depending on the condition of the property and what was left behind.

Richie Alan Naggar ah...yes... many think the whole process is so easy.  Not much to do... Right?

Debb Janes EcoBroker and Bernie Stea JD Our contracts usually have walkthroughs as standard boilerplate; however, the forms can vary wildly so it should be checked that the provision is included.

Walt Fish Wow! Now that you mentioned it, I do remember hearing a similar story but with the washer/dryer.  Sellers swapped out the fancy front loaders for cheap models.  I am going to add this to my checklist. Thanks for bringing it up.

Mary Jo Quay A piano? Really? Good comeback!

Nov 12, 2017 06:23 PM #13
Jan Green
Value Added Service, 602-620-2699 - Scottsdale, AZ
HomeSmart Elite Group, REALTOR®, EcoBroker, GREEN

Always important to do a final walk through.  Ours is scheduled per our contract, 3 days prior to close of escrow.  And we can't hold up closing or funding if there are issues.  Not as fair as your state!

Nov 12, 2017 08:05 PM #14
Kat Palmiotti
Grand Lux Realty, 914-419-0270, - Monroe, NY
The House Kat

I totally agree that this is an important step in the purchase process. We went into one home that was cleared of stuff but totally disgusting - the sellers wound up paying for a cleaning service. Thankfully we went to see the house before closing.


Nov 13, 2017 03:25 AM #15
Gordon Crawford
Gordon Crawford Home Selling Team - Morristown, NJ
Your Morris County Specialist!

Barbara, nice post.  So important to test everything so you don't get home from the closing to a voice message saying, I had to bother you but the -------- isn't working!

Nov 13, 2017 04:47 AM #16
Marney Kirk
Cummings & Co. Realtors - Towson, MD
Towson, Maryland Real Estate

Barbara, final walk throughs are very important!

Nov 13, 2017 06:06 AM #17
Sandy Aslin
Remax - Fairfield, CA

This great and should be read by all buyers.

Nov 13, 2017 08:22 AM #18
Barbara Altieri
RealtyQuest, Fairfield and New Haven County CT Real Estate - Shelton, CT
REALTOR-Fairfield County CT Homes/Condos For Sale

Jan Green Good thing it's automatically in the contract.

Kat Palmiotti I had a seller tell me the house was all set. I went the day before closing to check and it was extremely dirty witih stuff left behind.  The buyers never would have settled for that. Sellers came back and cleaned up/out.

Gordon Crawford It happens!  Have to be sure to check those appliances and heating and a/c weather permitting.

Marney Kirk Absolutely!

Sandy Aslin Yes, it really is a very important last step before taking ownership.

Nov 13, 2017 08:52 AM #19
MeLisa Minter, Realtor Better Homes and Gardens
Better Homes and Gardens, Gary Greene - Taylor Lake Village, TX
Broker, Associate, Taylor Lake Village Real Estate

Excellent tips. I've also learned to use a date stamp app when I take photos of the final walk-through, just for back up.  Sharing this post. 

Nov 13, 2017 02:56 PM #20
Barbara Altieri
RealtyQuest, Fairfield and New Haven County CT Real Estate - Shelton, CT
REALTOR-Fairfield County CT Homes/Condos For Sale

MeLisa Minter, Realtor Better Homes and Gardens What's the app you use?  I have had to take pics of issues many times which I forward over to LA.

Nov 15, 2017 07:58 AM #21
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Barbara Altieri

REALTOR-Fairfield County CT Homes/Condos For Sale
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