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Home Builder

Walk through before closing...when do you have your buyer do a walk through on a property in contract?

 Recently, we experienced frustration (as the listing agent) when a buyers agent  made the decision to have his buyer do a walk through on the property far too close to closing- the same day, in fact.

While some pristine offerings might engender this kind of schedule, this particular property had "issues" that involve a renter in place at the time of the initial viewing/purchase, and vacant at the time of the walk through.

Despite an inspection by a licensed professional being performed previously, there was reasoning behind requesting that the buyer please perform a walk through with a few days to spare- allowing time for any issues to be resolved between the parties (and NOT at the closing table).

I'm not so sure, whether representing a buyer or seller, that all scheduled walk throughs shouldn't offer latitude for potential issues- to the contrary, it seems common sense- irrespective of the condition of the property.

A day before allows issues to emerge, and time for both seller and buyer to resolve these issues pre-closing; perhaps my position remains solidified after having much new home construction experience.  A day before also appears close enough to closing that the property will remain in the condition of the walk through on the day of the closing.

An initial walk through; items corrected; final walk through the day of closing- typical builder process.

On resales, affording buyers and sellers 24 hours latitude between the walk through and closing seems to be common sense, yet is (clearly) a schedule that some simply don't subscribe to, insisting on a walk through hours before a closing.  On more than one occasion with cooperating brokers, so maybe it's us.

Perhaps I'm more cautious due to lawyers being involved in NY closings- the idea of a re-negotiation at the closing table doesn't appeal.  A closing should be a matter of signing paperwork, not a back and forth of renegotiation over issues that could easily be resolved between buyer and seller PRE CLOSING.

 For my seller, a walk through the day before is a measure of problem avoidance. For my buyer, a walk through the day before closing is a measure of problem avoidance.  Issues have time to be resolved.

Further, if my buyer performed a walk through with items unaddressed, there would BE no closing until the items were resolved- the closing table isn't going to be a place of negotiation. Our job is to make sure that all issues are resolved beforehand.  Lawyers might be fine with renegotiation at the nth hour; denigrating the closing day process for both buyer and seller when it's avoidable isn't on my radar.

Which returns me to the opinion that a walk through should never occur hours before a closing.  New or resale.

But, I could be wrong.




Comments (12)

Bruce Walter
Keller Williams Realty Lafayette/West Lafayette, Indiana - West Lafayette, IN

Laurie, I actually try and do both!  We walk through the property a few days before to make sure all the inspection issues were resolved(great listing agents fax/email you the receipts before hand) to allow time for any disputed issues to be resolved BEFORE the closing table.  I also just like to take a quick look on the way to the closing as many of my sales are vacant properties and I want to make sure the AC unit wasn't stolen or any vandalism happened overnightI say do both and I can do so as my opportunity costs are low at this point in my real estate career.  I understand that doesn't work for everyone, but I do like to cover all bases for my buyers!

Sep 13, 2011 04:05 AM
David Gibson CNE, 719-304-4684 ~ Colorado Springs Relocation
Colorado Real Estate Advisers LLC - Colorado Springs, CO
Relocation, Luxury & Lifestyle residential

Laurie my experience is that with new construction the builder is never close to being complete until the last day so we usually walk 2-3 days before closing and sometimes each day after that to monitor the completion.

Resale’s however should have all issues resolved well before closing. The walk through should only be a check for damage, to see if anything that should stay is being taken, etc. but it is not a time to renegotiate anything. I’m sure contract language varies by state but seller and buyer need to go by the contract.

Sep 13, 2011 04:08 AM
Laurie Mindnich
Centennial, CO

Bruce, if I had my druthers, it would be both, as well (formally, as builders do)- as it is, recently we've seen more listing agents, along with buyers agents, insist on "the day of"- can't tell you how it seems to scream, "let's make a problem at the closing table" to me- particularly with lawyers present for each..thanks for your insight!

Dave, when do you typically schedule your buyer? Colorado is somewhat different due to the property disclosure being comprehensive- and no lawyers at the table- the "day of" just asks for trouble, imo- a day before opens the dialogue (and typically closes it through mutual resolution) prior to sitting with sellers/buyers and their respective lawyers at closing!

Sep 13, 2011 04:08 AM
Li Read
Sea to Sky Premier Properties (Salt Spring) - Salt Spring Island, BC
Caring expertise...knowledge for you!

I'm with Bruce's comment.    Good post!

Sep 13, 2011 05:03 AM
Barbara Todaro
RE/MAX Executive Realty - Retired - Franklin, MA
Previously Affiliated with The Todaro Team

Hi Laurie.....with most new construction, the builder does not want a walk through until the end of the day before closing....he usually needs that time to far as touch ups, we always have the painter come in after the buyer has moved in....movers always manage to put mark here and there on a wall....the painter will touch up all of those marks...

Sep 13, 2011 05:17 AM
Laurie Mindnich
Centennial, CO

Li, me, too!

Barbara, agreed- some push it to the day before, which is fine- the punchlist affords the buyer an in writing agreement as to what will/won't be repaired at a future date, so no need for gyrations at closing. With resale- if a buyer walks the property the day of, heading to closing with an unanswered request or concern, the last place it should be resolved is at the closing table- seems dicey to walk an hour or two before closing.  Avoiding problems is key, with time for resolution.

Sep 13, 2011 05:46 AM
Larry Craven
Realty Direct Loudon County - Arlington, VA
Realty Direct, Inc

I think it depends on the situation.  There are many times when it is fine to do the walk thru just before settlement.  As you point out however, there are other situations involving renters or repair issues that require more than one visit.  I will take this post as a reminder to be diligent in those cases.

Sep 13, 2011 08:28 AM
Laurie Mindnich
Centennial, CO

Larry, I think it's the previous builder experience that instilled the paranoia.  Even when it seems just fine, a homebuyer might find something that isn't fine- one in a hundred- and that's the tiny percentage that I'd like to eliminate by never having anyone walk their new home the day of closing- an extra day would allow for resolution outside of the closing table (wouldn't the seller prefer an arena outside of a closing table, too?)- but as mentioned, at our closings, two lawyers are waiting, so any issue leaves room for a closing disruption! Thank you for your input- it's appreciated.

Sep 13, 2011 12:42 PM
Mitchell J Hall
Manhattan, NY
Lic Associate RE Broker - Manhattan & Brooklyn

Hi Laurie, I agree with you but I have had many the same day, an hour before the closing. Both new construction and reslaes. Lawyers and seller already at closing. I've had ones where we had to go from the closing to the property with attorneys.

New construction is better because of the punch list. Builder signs off on list and has 30 days after close to fix. Buyer rarely holds up closing usually moves in and the builder legally still has to honor punch list. At times I've been amazed the difference a day can make with new construction or conversion but usually new construction is never perfect by the walk thru or day of closing.

Bruce makes a good point because I've had buyers tell me when they moved in the A/C was gone. Did the seller come back after walk thru before closing and take out A/C?

In resales we sell "as is" just working appliances and "broom clean" but that can still be problematic, subjective, disputable and still negotiable.

Sep 14, 2011 03:23 PM
Laurie Mindnich
Centennial, CO

Hi, Mitchell- a suggestion from a lawyer we work with was to have the buyer, at the walk through (irrespective of when it happens, but he counsels his buyer clients to close with at least 24 hours before a closing ) bring a date stamp camera and take photos- makes sense.  Yes...the broom clean isn't clear, either- too many chances that it can be interpreted differently!  I can't imagine having to leave the closing in order to go to the property...  Builders are different, as you note, because home buyers leave with a legal remedy for repairs- having that recourse makes all of the difference.  I was lucky- worked for some really good builders- where the punchlist was often completed pre-closing (at one, the construction team was provided a bonus for 0 items at a final walk), but that doesn't appear to be the norm.

Sep 14, 2011 10:54 PM
Tara B. Downing
Village Properties - Mineola, NY
Homes For Sale - Mineola Port Washington

Laurie - I think we've all had problems with walk-throughs too early or too late. But, someday I'll post the video of the best walk-thru ever.  It was the night before closing and, while it wasn't new construction, we had a gut-renovated house around the block from our office being purchased by one of our favorite buyers ever.  They didn't want to bother walking through the house.  (In addition, another agent in my office was the listing agent - although it was just a lock-box sale.)


Well, the long and short of it is, my broker and I went with the purchasers to do the walk through.  My broker and the husband were in the basement.  His wife and I were on the second floor when we saw - yes - a possum in the bathroom.  We both screamed and literally ran into each other trying to get away.  To make a long story short, the Nassau County PD sent a crew who took the animal and threw it our of the house - literally just out the front door.  It took them over 1/2 hour with 3 policemen from animal control.  I'll never forget it.

It wasn't a walk through - it was a run and scream through followed by a 3 hour wait and shake through.

Sep 18, 2011 09:02 PM
Laurie Mindnich
Centennial, CO

Tara, hilarious (although no doubt, not at the time)- possums unnerve me, as well, and I don't think I'd have been able to continue walking through the house without the animal control gal/guy going into every single room, closet, nook and cranny first!

I'd be wondering the whole time when a possum was going to drop from the ceiling with those sharp teeth...UGH- not sure my pics would be in focus!

Sep 19, 2011 12:29 AM