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Final Walk-Through Checklist: What To Look For (2024)

The final walk-through might seem like a routine part of the home-buying process, but rushing through it can lead to headaches later. Here’s how to make the most of it.

Author Image Written by Shane Sentelle Updated 05/02/2024

As you excitedly prepare to move into your new home, it’s essential to ensure everything is in good working order before signing off on the purchase. This step is known as the final walk-through, and it’s meant to help prevent unpleasant surprises on move-in day and beyond. To help you prepare our team has compiled a comprehensive final walk-through checklist.

In this guide, we cover everything from checking the garage-door openers to inspecting the HVAC system. We also answer common questions, such as who should come with you, how long it will take, and what to do if you find issues. Whether you’re a first-time homebuyer or an experienced homeowner, our checklist will help you ensure your new home is move-in ready before you—or your professional movers—arrive with your belongings.

The final walk-through is an important step in the home-buying process that should not be overlooked. It provides the homebuyer with one last chance to inspect the property and ensure that everything is in working order. During the final walk-through, the homebuyer and their real estate agent walk through the home together.

During the final walk-through, the homebuyer and their real estate agent will inspect the property one last time to ensure that everything is functional and that any agreed-upon repairs have been made. This includes ensuring all appliances, fixtures, and systems work. You should also check that any items that were included in the sale, such as appliances or window treatments, are still present and in good condition.

The final walk-through is also an opportunity to check for any new issues that may have arisen since the initial home inspection. For example, if the home has been vacant for a period of time, there may be new signs of pest or water damage. You should also check that any repairs that were made are up to your satisfaction and have been completed to a professional standard.

Ideally, the final walk-through should take place a few days before closing to give you enough time to identify any issues and resolve them before the sale is finalized. However, final walk-throughs often occur within 24 hours of closing—sometimes on the way to the closing office. This is an especially convenient option if you need to coordinate a cross-country relocation with long-distance movers because it eliminates the need for you to make an extra trip.

Note that the timing may vary depending on the purchase agreement and local regulations. Your real estate agent or attorney should be familiar with the specific requirements in your area.

The homebuyer should always attend the final walk-through with their real estate agent. This holds true for both local and long-distance moves. In most cases, the seller will have already vacated the property, and the final walk-through will be conducted in their absence. If the seller has not vacated, they and their real estate may be present.

Since the final walk-through is not a home inspection, a professional home inspector is not typically present. However, if you have concerns about the property’s condition, you may want to schedule a separate appointment with a qualified inspector.

Generally, a final walk-through can take anywhere from 30 minutes to a few hours. The length of time will vary depending on the size of the property, the complexity of the systems being inspected, and the thoroughness of the inspection.

Rushing through the final walk-through can lead to missed issues, resulting in costly repairs or replacements after the sale is finalized—adding to your total moving costs. With that in mind, be sure to leave yourself enough time for a thorough inspection.

To ensure you are fully prepared for the final walk-through, you should bring the following things with you:

  • Any written agreements regarding repairs
  • Camera or phone to take photos or videos of any issues
  • Checklist of things to look for
  • Copy of the purchase agreement
  • Flashlight
  • Home inspection report
  • Notepad or mobile device for documenting issues
  • Phone charger to check the outlets
  • Tape measure to ensure that new furniture or appliances will fit

What To Look For During the Final Walk-Through

During the final walk-through, it’s important to be thorough, inspecting both the interior and exterior of the home. We’ve provided specific checklists of what to look for below.

Home Interior

When conducting the final walk-through, pay close attention to the property’s interior. In particular, inspect the following:
Appliances: Check all appliances, including the refrigerator, stove, dishwasher, microwave, washer, and dryer.
Exhaust fans: Test any exhaust fans in the kitchen or bathrooms.
Flooring: Check the condition of the flooring and baseboards and look for issues that a vacuum, broom, or mop will not fix.
Walls and ceilings: Look for signs of new damage on the walls, ceilings, and crown molding and verify that any agreed-upon repairs have been completed.
Doors and windows: Open and close all the windows and doors and check the locks on each one. Ensure no doorknobs, window screens, or blinds have been removed since the initial home inspection.
Plumbing fixtures: Test all plumbing fixtures, including faucets, toilets, and showers.
HVAC system: Regardless of the temperature outside, temporarily adjust the thermostat to test the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system.
Electrical system: Test the circuit breakers and use a phone charger or another small plug-in device to test electrical outlets.
Lights: Check the condition of light fixtures, ceiling fans, and light switches. Unless otherwise specified in the final contract, the seller should not take these types of fixtures with them.
Water pressure: Check the water pressure in all sinks and showers. You may also want to run hot water to test the water heater settings and functionality.
Built-in features: Check other built-in features, such as garbage disposals and sprinkler systems.
Pests: Look for evidence of pests, such as rodents or termites. Red flags include droppings, gnaw marks, and nests.
Water damage: Look for evidence of water damage. Stains on the ceilings or walls, musty odors, or dampness can all be bad signs.

Our checklist may not be all-inclusive, so be mindful of any items or issues specific to the home or your negotiations with the seller. For instance, you may need to verify that a certain repair has been completed satisfactorily.

As you conduct your final walk-through, remember that most real estate contracts simply state that the home should be “broom clean.” A few scratches or a little dirt is not worth stressing over. Just plan to do your own deep clean once you’re moved in—or add the cost of hiring a professional cleaner to your moving budget.

Home Exterior

In addition to the interior, be sure to inspect the home’s exterior to identify any issues that need to be addressed before closing.
Roof and gutters: Check the roof’s condition, gutters, and downspouts from the ground. Also check for proper drainage around the home’s foundation.
Garage doors: Test the functionality of garage doors and openers.
Siding: Check the condition of the exterior siding or stucco. Look for any cracks or damage.
Deck/patio: Check the condition of the deck, patio, or any other outdoor features.
Mailbox: Check the condition of the mailbox. Ensure it opens and closes without issues, and look for holes that could expose your mail to rain.
Doorbell: Test the functionality of the doorbell.
Water damage: Look for signs of water damage, including stained siding or foundation cracks.
Pests: Look for signs of rodent activity, such as holes, droppings, and insect nests.
Trash: Ensure the previous owner has not left behind trash or other items in the yard, such as old paint cans or scrap lumber.

What If I Find Issues During the Final Walk-Through?

If you find issues during the final walk-through, don’t panic. Minor issues are common, and most can be resolved easily before closing with the help of your real estate agent. There are four main types of issues you may encounter:

  • Fixtures or furniture included in the contract have been removed
  • New repair or maintenance issues have arisen since the inspection
  • Previously functional systems or appliances are no longer in working order
  • Repairs that were agreed upon have not been completed

The first step is to document any issues you find. This can include taking photos or videos of the issues and making note of their location and severity. Additionally, you should discuss any issues with your real estate agent as soon as possible to determine the best course of action.

Depending on the nature of the issue, you may need to negotiate with the seller for repairs or a credit at closing. Your real estate agent can help you navigate this process and ensure that your rights as a buyer are protected.

In extreme cases, you may need to postpone the closing until the issue is resolved. This can be a frustrating and time-consuming option, but it’s important to ensure that any major issues are properly addressed before closing.

Our Conclusion

Conduct a comprehensive inspection during the final walk-through, including both the interior and exterior of your new property. This can help you identify issues that need to be addressed before moving in—and avoid unpleasant surprises.

Bring along a checklist of items to inspect, a camera or phone to document potential issues, and a copy of the home inspection report and final contract. Document any issues during the final walk-through and promptly discuss them with your real estate agent as soon as possible.

The final walk-through is the last opportunity to confirm that the home is move-in ready and all contract terms have been met before you take possession of the property. By proactively identifying any issues, you can help ensure a smooth, budget-friendly moving and home-buying experience.

FAQ About Final Walk-Throughs

Do sellers go to a final walk-through?

Sellers do not typically go to the final walk-through. However, they may be present if they choose to be. Sometimes, the seller’s real estate agent may attend the walk-through on their behalf.

What should I do before the walk-through?

Here’s a list of what you should do before the final walk-through:

  1. Review the purchase agreement.
  2. Confirm the details of the walk-through.
  3. Create a final walk-through checklist.
  4. Gather any items needed for the walk-through.
  5. Complete any final moving-related tasks.

What should I do if I find something new during the final walk-through?

If you find something new during the final walk-through, you should take the following steps:

  1. Document it with photos or a video.
  2. Note the location and severity of the problem.
  3. Discuss it with your real estate agent.
  4. Negotiate with the seller for repairs or a credit at closing.
  5. Postpone the closing, if necessary, until the issue is resolved.

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