|The buyer's walk through: protection
for the seller|
Julie Garton-Good, GRI, DREI
The sale of your home is about to close and the Realtor
working with the buyer calls to set up a time for their final look at the
property. Don't panic. In fact, allowing the buyer to take a final look is
actually in your favor. It reinforces the property's condition to the buyer and
is verification that the buyer is accepting the prior as it is seen.
The "walk through" as it is referred to usually
occurs a few days or so before the loan closing. If the buyer is not working
with a Realtor, it's equally advisable that you as the seller arrange for the
walk-through to occur. Be sure to document any questions the buyer has as well
as the answers you provide.
What do you and the buyer use as your guide for the property
walk through? The purchase agreement is a good place to start, as well as any
other property condition forms attached to it. It spells out the terms and
conditions of the sale as well as the condition of the property being sold to
the buyer. For example, most agreements specify that the heating and cooling
systems be in working order. That would suggest that the buyer turn on all
heating/cooling systems, even in off-season.
What the buyer might check during that final look around
The following is a checklist of areas in and around the home
that the buyer may examine. They include:
- General condition of interior walls and ceiling
- Conditions in the attic (to check for a leaking roof)
- Conditions in any basement or crawl space (to check for
- Electric & Mechanical aspects--These include furnace,
air conditioner, ceiling fans, water heater, plumbing fixtures, drains, garbage
disposal, and built-in appliances.
- The exterior of the house--This could include the roof,
turning water spigots on and off, inspecting downspouts and checking exterior
- Any garages and/or detached buildings
- A thorough inspection of any personal property you're
leaving with the home. This would include appliances as well as their applicable
warranty information, area rugs.
Don't be offended if the buyer moves area rugs or swings
picture out of the way. It's merely part of a thorough review, and something you
should do when the tables are turned and you're the home buyer!
What if the Buyer Finds Discrepancies?
The first step is to verify (using the paperwork) what the
discrepancy is. Often what appears to be a discrepancy is merely a difference in
opinion or interpretation.
Second, ask the Realtor(s), if applicable, to discuss
whether there really is a discrepancy. Is there additional paperwork to back up
the concern? Is there other third-party information like a property inspection
completed by an appropriately licensed person that could serve as documentation?
Third, if you can't come to a meeting of the minds about the
item, get a third party interpretation (from your attorney and/or the home
inspector). Know that if the buyer's questions aren't thoroughly answered, the
buyer might delay the closing. Just as with your initial negotiations with the
buyer, know which battles are worth winning and which are more frivolous or ego
based. You don't want to delay the closing and/or chance not selling the
property over an issue that is unimportant and that a little give and take can
Just a reminder, the "walk through" is not a home
inspection. A home inspection can only be conducted by an appropriately licensed
person (such as a general contractor, master electrician for electrical
problems, etc.). The purpose of the final look at the property before closing is
primarily to determine that all personal property noted in the contract will be
left with the property, and to ensure that the property condition is consistent
with terms of the contract.
What does that mean? If the contract requires that the
seller replace or repair the roof, these repairs should be made prior to the
buyers final visit to the property before closing. If the contract stated that
the seller's 24-cubic-foot side-by-side refrigerator stays with the house, it
better be there, and not be replaced by an 18-foot stripped-down model.
Taking the time to ensure both buyers and sellers understand
what will transfer with the home will save time and misunderstandings that can
kill a closing, and help both parties feel good about the transaction.
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