You’ve found the perfect house, made your way through the whole homebuying process, and now it’s almost time to close on your new home. All that’s left to do before closing is the final walkthrough, and you’re probably very excited! So excited, in fact, you might think about arriving early to the walkthrough. So, should you arrive early? Well…no, actually, you shouldn’t.

Arriving early is just one of the mistakes buyers often make when it comes to the final walkthrough. And while it might not seem like a big deal to go through the house one last time before you sign the final paperwork, it’s actually a very important part of the homebuying process — it’s your last chance to identify any issues before they become your problem entirely.

We’ll talk about why arriving early is a mistake and share other stumbles buyers make in the final walkthrough, with insight from top real estate professionals, as well as tips on all the things you should do as a buyer.

A homebuyer arriving early to their final walkthrough.
Source: (Alex Otto / Unsplash)

Mistake: Arriving early

We get it. It’s so exciting to be at the final stages of your home purchase, you might be tempted to show up for that final walkthrough hours before you’re actually supposed to be there. But there are good reasons to avoid showing up too early.

Why is it a mistake?

Sellers sometimes have last-minute cleaning or moving to do, and showing up early isn’t appreciated, as the house might not be quite ready yet.

You’ll also want to remember that the final walkthrough is intentionally scheduled as close to the actual closing as possible, so showing up early kind of defeats the purpose.

What to do instead

Arrive at the scheduled time — or maybe five minutes early, which is perfectly acceptable.

Mistake: Not bringing your agent

Showing up without an agent to guide you through the walkthrough is a big no-no on many levels, and not just because you need their expertise.

Why is it a mistake?

Buyers, especially first-time buyers, can sometimes get a little starry-eyed in their eagerness to get settled in their new home. Your agent is there to keep you on track, and they can help you make sure that all agreed-upon repairs are taken care of and the home is in good order.

In some states, there are also potential legal repercussions for not bringing your agent with you. California real estate agent Mark Moskowitz, who has nearly 30 years’ experience in the business, says that bringing your agent isn’t just crucial for buyers — it’s required.

“Buyers cannot show up to the final walkthrough by themselves in California,” he says. “Their agent must be with them.”

What to do instead

Bring your agent!

You’ll appreciate having a professional with you who knows what to look for during that final walkthrough, and you won’t have to worry that you might’ve missed something.

an outlet that should be checked during your final walkthrough.
Source: ( Kelly Sikkema / Unsplash)

Mistake: Forgetting to bring an outlet-checker

There’s nothing worse than moving into a house after closing and realizing that several of the electrical outlets don’t work. Once you sign your closing documents, you won’t have a lot of options insofar as addressing these kinds of issues.

Why is it a mistake?

If you don’t bring something to check the electrical outlets in the house, there’s really no way for you to know if they work properly. And if part of any repair agreements includes specifics on electrical issues, it’s important to be able to check outlets.

What to do instead

You don’t have to bring a fancy piece of equipment to check outlets. A hair dryer, your phone charger, anything that plugs into an outlet will work just fine.

Take your time during the walkthrough to make sure all outlets are working, and talk to your agent about options for getting them repaired prior to closing if any don’t work.

Mistake: Planning furniture layout instead of paying attention to home condition

Will that new couch fit in the living room? Should you bring a tape measure so you can figure out where it should go?

Probably not. This isn’t the time for mentally arranging furniture.

Why is it a mistake?

The final walkthrough is your last chance to make sure the home’s condition is the same as it was when you first looked at it. After closing takes place, any problems are your responsibility. You have all the time in the world to rearrange the furniture.

What to do instead

Follow your agent’s lead and pay attention to what kind of shape the house is in, making sure that any repairs were completed and there has been no new damage to the home.

Remember, it isn’t your house until you sign off at closing, so try to remain a little detached when you do your walkthrough, and concentrate on the real reasons why you’re there.

Mistake: Forgetting to bring the purchase agreement and/or request for repairs agreement

When you get your home inspection, there are usually at least a few items that you’ll negotiate to have repaired prior to closing.

But wait…was it the second bedroom closet door that needed fixing? Did you want that dripping faucet repaired? Do you remember everything you negotiated?

Why is it a mistake?

You may want to refer to either the purchase agreement or the request for repairs during the inspection, and if you don’t have them with you, you won’t be able to verify which repairs were supposed to be completed, or double-check any other stipulations that might have been part of the purchase agreement.

What to do instead

Bring copies of all pertinent documentation with you. You or your agent should have received proof (usually in the form of receipts) of any repairs that were completed, and you’ll want to check that against the repair agreement, purchase agreement, and the actual repairs.

Wood floors that you should check for damage during the final walkthrough.
Source: (Francisco Galarza / Unsplash)

Mistake: Neglecting to check for moving damage

Whether they’ve hired movers or are doing it themselves, occasionally a seller move-out can leave behind items that require repair.

Sometimes buyers get so caught up in making sure any agreed-upon repairs are complete, they don’t take the time to look for new damage.

Why is it a mistake?

While a scratched floor or ding in the wall might seem minimal, it is damage that you will be responsible for fixing if you don’t discover it during the final walkthrough. If you don’t want to have to take care of fixing things that got broken or scratched during the seller’s move-out, you need to look for these things prior to closing.

What to do instead

Again, this is where having an experienced real estate professional makes all the difference because they know exactly what to look for and how to resolve it.

“If there’s a legitimate problem, I wouldn’t close until it’s resolved, either by having it repaired, or putting funds in escrow to cover the damage,” says Moskowitz.

Mistake: Thinking this is the time to seek out new repairs needed on the home

According to Moskowitz, one of the biggest mistakes buyers make during the final walkthrough is thinking that they can fully re-inspect the home and potentially find new repairs that need to be done.

Why is it a mistake?

“This isn’t a time to renegotiate repairs,” he says.

“Your opportunity to request repairs comes after the initial home inspection. During the walkthrough, you’re simply checking to make sure the home is in the agreed-upon condition, and that there isn’t new damage.”

Moskowitz says that contractually, buyers can’t stop the closing just because they see something they don’t like during the final walkthrough. This is especially true in a seller’s market, where a seller might have several back-up offers on the table. “Trying to delay closing over something that wasn’t ever part of the repair agreement might end up backfiring on the buyer,” he says.

What to do instead

If you find new damage, or if there is existing damage that wasn’t disclosed during the inspection, you do have some recourse.

The key, says Moskowitz, is understanding that this is a business negotiation. “You don’t want to have an emotional reaction to things,” he says. “Communicate, don’t get upset, and you’ll likely be able to come to some kind of agreement.”

The final walkthrough is definitely an exciting time, and it should be! This is the culmination of hours of house-hunting, making sure your credit is in order, finding a mortgage lender, and jumping through all the hoops that come with purchasing a home. Not letting yourself get overwhelmed with worries about new repairs that might need to be addressed, as well as not letting yourself get too caught up in dreaming about kitchen paint colors and missing things during the walkthrough, is really the key to a productive final walkthrough.

Most importantly, however, having a professional real estate agent who not only helps you find your new home, but also takes you all the way through to that final walkthrough, can help you feel secure about your investment. Then you can arrive at the closing table with confidence!

Header Image Source: ( Roger Starnes Sr / Unsplash)