Do You Walk It?

Real Estate Agent with Keller Williams Realty

Historical Home

Sellers scurry to pack and take care of negotiated repairs.  Buyers are busy packing and finishing up last minute mortgage details.  The end of a transaction nears.

As a buyer's representative, it becomes hectic also towards the last days of a transaction.  Many critical time frame dates to make sure has been completed to meet contract terms.  Balls from all sides are being juggled. 

The sellers have completed required and agreed repairs.  Receipts have been given to the buyer's agent as proof of completion.  Is the next step and one of the most critical steps missed as we head for closing?  The buyer's walk through and acceptance of property.

When the buyer says ... I feel just fine about the repairs and don't have time to make a walk through before close then red flags should be waived.  I have often had no walk throughs prior to close and this just puzzles me.  Even if the sellers are still in the midst of packing and moving this should be done.  Ideally the walk through takes place after the home is vacated, clean and ready to be conveyed.  But sometimes that just cannot be achieved.

The WHY of a Buyer's Walk Through:

  • Gives the buyer a chance to personally see that the repairs were done properly.
  • Another inspection may need to be done to validate proper completion of repair by the home inspector.
  • When repair is done things can happen such as further damage .. the unfortunate domino affect that sometimes takes place, Murphy's law at its finest.
  • A vacant home can also reveal stains on carpet.  I often see where furniture has stained the carpet as it has bleed the stain in over time.  Validation of the home is left in the agreed manner.
  • Gives time to troubleshoot and negotiate a resolution instead of a 9-1-1 drill.
  • The buyer can refuse to close or negotiate funds being withheld if there is damage or repairs not properly addressed or competed.

The Big WHY for Agents - Liability.  You want to make sure all has been done right, no matter what side of the transaction you are on.  Never say the home warranty company will take care of that problem or be prepared to pay for it yourself when you find out they won't cover it.  Caution - agents, don't do the walk for them even if they are out of town.  Have them designate someone on their behalf (not you) to do this.  I don't have to even explain the lawsuit potential that kind gesture will have down the road.

Be sure to obtain a Buyer's Acceptance of Property Condition signed off form from the buyer and listing agents ask for it or provide one to be signed at close if not before.

A prudent professional will not only protect their clients but themselves when they make it a practice of taking their buyers through to approve the repairs and condition.   

Comments (10)

Susan Neal
RE/MAX Gold, Fair Oaks - Fair Oaks, CA
Fair Oaks CA & Sacramento Area Real Estate Broker

Hi Connie - I always want my clients to do a final walk-through.  Even if just to make sure that everything is still okay with the property.  We have had some storms and you never know if the roof or windows will leak, if trees will have been felled by wind, or if vandals will break a window or steal the copper from the AC unit or whatever.  A last minute walk through can assure everyone (seller included) that the condition is as they agreed to purchase.

Apr 11, 2011 02:43 PM
Joy Daniels
Joy Daniels Real Estate Group, Ltd. - Harrisburg, PA

thank you for your great post.  It is something I will share with our buyer agents.  I sold my mom a house and on the walk-thru, the ceiling crashed down in the kitchen as we were leaving!  If we skipped the walk-thru my mom would have had to do a lot more fighting to get hte seller to fix it!

Apr 11, 2011 03:14 PM
Diane Glander
Diane Turton Realtors - Spring Lake, NJ
Diane Glander

I always do a final walk through with my buyers.  You need to be sure the repairs are done, that the owners have not removed anything from the house that they were supposed to leave, and to be sure no damage was done on the move out. 

In NJ, the houses have to be "broom swept" and you would be amazed at how some sellers leave the home.  Leaving old paint cans, food in the refrigerator, and items they were too lazy to remove only complicates the smooth closing we all hope for, but better to discover it before the buyers sign on the dotted line. 

I guess my follow up question to your post would be:  Do you go to the closing?

Apr 11, 2011 03:22 PM
Donne Knudsen
Los Angeles & Ventura Counties in CA - Simi Valley, CA
CalState Realty Services

Connie - I always encourage my borrowers to do their final walk-thru with their BA, especially if they're buying a short sale.  Twice in the past year, borrowers of mine who purchased short sales discovered in their final walk-thru that the sellers had stripped the home of stuff that was supposed to have been transferred with the property.

In one transaction, this bozo seller had removed all of the ceiling fans (in almost every room) as well as numerous light fixtures, sconces and a chandelier in the foyer and left exposed wires hanging all over the house.  The damage that the seller did to the property was so extensive that the buyer refused to sign her loan docs the next day.  She had us hold the docs until the seller either replaced the stuff he took or provided a credit for her to repair the damage. 

Five days later (and a redraw of the docs), my borrower finally signed her docs after she got a credit to repair the damage.  What a mess that was.

Apr 11, 2011 03:32 PM
Connie Goodrich
Keller Williams Realty - McKinney, TX
CRS ABR (McKinney Realtor)Texas

Susan - excellent point.  Damage to the home can take place and the seller may not even be aware.  Thanks for your input!

Joy - oh, the things we find or don't find and the stories we can tell.  Good thing you did the walk through with your mom, what a welcome to your home mess that would have been.

Diane - the seller's definition of broom swept probably differs from the buyer and most people think sometimes.  Lazy, lazy.  Right now I am negotiating a transaction and the seller keeps placing the refrigerator, washer & dryer to remain with the home.  Here in Texas that is considered personal property and is an item, if wanted needs to be agreed to be left.  The equipment is old and does not fit the new decor of the kitchen at all (stainless), they are white.  My buyer does not want it but the seller does not want to move them or make arrangements to give them away, etc. .. trying to shove it off to my client.  Really, muddy a transaction over this detail?  Lazy!!

Donne - excellent advice to remind the buyers, not only watching out for them with the loan but just making sure that all is as as expected.

Thanks to all for your input and visit!! Much appreciated.

Apr 11, 2011 03:42 PM
John Mosier
Realty ONE Group Mountain Desert - Prescott, AZ
Prescott's Patriot Agent 928 533-8142

Good advice, Connie.  The walkthrough is a good place to protect brokers and agents from liability.

Apr 11, 2011 04:30 PM
Judith Parker
ProStead Realty - Charlotte, NC
CRS, GRI, CMRS, Charlotte, NC

Hi Connie, I always have my buyers do a final walk the morning of closing...not even the evening before.  One time I had a closing and we did the walk that morning and the toilet upstairs had over flowed and ran all night...the ceilings were down and water was everywhere.  Thank goodness we did not go the evening before or this is what the buyers would have discovered after closing.  Good post!

Apr 11, 2011 04:45 PM
Teral McDowell
Referral Patners LLC - Murphy, TX

Excellent advice; to-date I have done this and I will continue to take buyer's through and get the sign off.

Apr 11, 2011 05:32 PM
Richard Weeks
Dallas, TX
REALTOR®, Broker


Great advice.  At closing I think the seller agent (with clients approval) should ask if the buyer had done a final walk through and if yes ask for a copy of the  TAR 1925 (final wal through and acceptance). If the answer is no then pull out your copy and ask that they confirm they chose not to walk.

Apr 11, 2011 11:19 PM
Will Hamm
Hamm Homes - Aurora, CO
"Where There's a Will, There's a Way!"

Hi Connie, Sound advice on doing a walk thru.  Once time in my first year of real estate, we did not do a walk thru and I learn my lesson.  The people left dirty diapers in each room for the new buyers.  I when and did cleaning and learn a valuable lesson.  Have a great day!

Apr 12, 2011 02:56 AM