One of the final steps of buying a Beacon Hill or Seaport condo is scheduling and completing the final walk-through. The final walk-through is not something that buyers or sellers should take lightly.
It’s actually pretty simple, if there are final walk-through issues, it can delay or even worse can kill a deal. The final walk-through is one of the most common reasons for a real estate closing delay.
Below we’re going to discuss the top 9 final walk-through issues that can delay or kill a Boston real estate transaction. Both buyers and sellers should be aware of these 10 potential issues so that they don’t lead to frustration at the end of a real estate transaction!
Many Boston condo buyers and sellers don’t understand what a final walkthrough is and why it’s important. A final walk-through in real estate can be easily described as the final inspection of a home prior to the signing of all the documents which make a sale official. The time at which a final walk-through is completed will depend on your local real estate purchase and sale contract.
In the downtown Boston real estate market one of the real estate contract contingencies is the pre-closing inspection, which is known as a final walk-through. Below is how the pre-closing inspection contingency is described in the downtown Boston area purchase and sale contract.
1.) The Condo Isn’t Empty
One of the most common final walk-through issues that occur is when the home isn’t completely empty. It’s common that the homeowner leaves behind items in their home such as tools, extra paint, and furniture without the buyer’s agreement.
Just because a homeowner may believe that a buyer would want “leftover” paint doesn’t mean they should leave it in the home unless the buyer has agreed to want it left behind. Home sellers should always empty the home completely unless there is an agreement in place, otherwise, it could create a problem at the final walk-through.
Most purchase and sale contracts have some type of language discussing how the home should be left. In the Boston area contracts, it states that the home should be left in “broom-clean condition.”
While “broom-clean condition” can be interpreted differently from one person to the next, a dirty home is another final walk-through issue that can delay or kill a deal.
If you’re selling a home, it’s suggested that you sweep, vacuum, or clean all the floors in your home prior to the final walk-through. If you’re buying a home, it’s important to remain realistic and not expect the home to be spotless because you’ll likely perform a nice deep clean of your home after closing.
One of the most important tasks to complete after closing on a home is to clean it to your own standards. Certainly, if a home has piles of dirt on the floors, the counters haven’t been wiped down in weeks, or the toilet is disgusting, it’s understandable to be upset with the cleanliness of the home at the final walk-through.
Another very common final walk-through issue that can arise just before closing is that the negotiated repairs haven’t been completed by the homeowner. There are a couple of common reasons why negotiated repairs aren’t completed prior to the final walk-through such as the seller simply forgot to complete them or the seller figured the buyer would forget.
One of the top 10 reasons to hire a buyers agent when buying a house is that they will help ensure that any negotiated repairs are done and receipts of completed work are obtained well before the walk-through, thus avoiding this potential issue. An organized and experienced buyers agent will have systems in place to remind them, likely through a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software, as to when they should be asking the sellers agent for proof of completed repairs.
One thing that’s negotiated in a real estate transaction is personal property. First and foremost, there is a difference between a fixture and personal property. A fixture is something that’s attached to the home such as lighting fixtures, mailboxes, and shrubs. A piece of personal property is something that’s not attached to a home such as a refrigerator, swing set, or a wine refrigerator.
A fairly common final walk-through issue is when a piece of personal property is not present during the final inspection. Perhaps a seller forgot that they agreed to leave the washer and dryer or they decided at the last minute they weren’t going to leave their refrigerator, either way, this creates a problem.
It’s suggested that sellers review the purchase agreement or consult with their real estate agent prior to removing personal property from their home. It’s also important that buyers have a copy of the personal property agreement at the final walk-through so they can make sure the property is still present in the home.
An important task to complete at the final walk-through is to test the included appliances. If an appliance that was advertised as working is no longer, it can create a problem.
This potential final walk-through issue can easily be avoided! As a rule of thumb, home sellers should check the appliances that were included in the sale prior to the final walk-through.
Below are a few things to check out prior to the final walk-through if you’re selling a home and have appliances included in the sale.
- Make sure the refrigerator is cold
- Make sure the freezer is functioning
- Test burners on the stove
- Make sure the oven is warming
- Run dishwasher to ensure it’s running and draining properly
- Run the washing machine
- Make sure the dryer is heating properly
If you’re selling a home and notice one of the included appliances isn’t working properly, address it before the final walk-through. This will avoid closing delays or even worse, a killed deal because of a broken appliance!
With the emergence of smart home technology, the common final walk-through issue of damaged walls is becoming a bit less frequent but certainly does still happen. Since many TVs and audio equipment are now built with wireless and Bluetooth features, the need for dozens of wires for speakers and TV boxes is becoming less which means less drilling through the walls of the home.
Even with these advances in technology, if a home seller removes something such as a TV wall mount, the walls should be repaired. Leaving a wall looking like a shooting range target with hole after hole can create problems. It’s suggested that when removing things from a wall, whether it’s a TV or family portrait, the holes are patched, scraped, and painted to match the walls.
A home HVAC system, which is short for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning, can be very costly to repair or replace. In fact, a home with older or broken HVAC systems is often a way to scare away potential buyers from a home
One of the top things to check during a final walk-through is that the homes HVAC systems are functioning properly. If a home furnace or air conditioning unit is not working, it’s a problem. This common final walk-through issue can again be avoided by checking prior to the final inspection.
If the HVAC systems are not working prior to the final walk-through, it’s important to address this immediately. It could be a simple tune-up that’s needed which may only cost a couple of hundred dollars, however, it’s a better alternative than the deal dying because of the HVAC systems aren’t working.
Similar to deferred lawn and landscaping maintenance, per most contracts, the seller is required to have the utilities on at the final walk-through. If a buyer arrives at a final walk-through and there are no utilities on, it’s going to lead to a problem.
Without active utilities, a buyer cannot test some very important things during their final walk-through. This includes testing the HVAC systems, the water heater, the toilets, and a variety of other important items. If a home’s utilities are shut off during the final walk-through, it can potentially take the utility companies several days to set up a time to come to the property to turn back on.
Recently while selling a home in the Seaport District, the sellers turned the utilities off and they couldn’t be turned back on for 5 days. This meant that the closing had to be delayed for 5 days which was extremely frustrating for the buyers.
One of the most obvious tips for moving is to make sure that the home doesn’t get damaged. Yet, home sellers and moving companies often neglect to move out of a house with care.
Not moving out of a home with care can create a final walk-through issue when damage is discovered from the move. One would think something like bumping into a wall with a couch wouldn’t lead to an issue at the final inspection, but it can.
It’s fairly common to see damage in a home as a direct result of the sellers move. It’s recommended that after moving all of the belongings out of a home, the homeowner walks through the entire home to make sure nothing was damaged during the move.
If there is damage to the home as a result of the move, it’s vital it gets fixed prior to the final walk-through. If a moving company is responsible for the damage, a formal complaint should be filed as soon as the damage is discovered. A reputable moving company will make things right and likely will pay for the repairs.