The home purchase contract includes a period of time for the buyer to do any property inspections. The buyer may reasonably disapprove of any conditions discovered during the inspection time. Once the buyer has removed all inspection contingencies, the escrow continues until the date of closing. All purchase contracts also include a provision enabling the buyer to do a final walk-through inspection before closing. This inspection is not meant to be an additional contingency, but is to be sure that the property’s condition is as it should be according to the contract.
Fixtures that are not specifically excluded from the sale contract should remain built in to the property. These include light fixtures, wall sconces, built-in wall systems, built-in refrigerator, etc.
Most buyers understand the importance of having the home examined by a home inspector, but some don’t do a pre-closing inspection.
To minimize major surprises, a buyer should schedule the walk-through as close to the actual closing as possible, certainly within 1-5 days prior to closing, preferably after the sellers have moved out. The whole point of the walk-through is to protect the buyer from sellers who are not as thoughtful or fair-minded as they could be.
By inspecting the premises, the buyer can make sure the seller has lived up to his or her agreements in the sales contract. And if he or she has not, the buyer wants to know about it before the closing so remedies (both monetary and otherwise) can be agreed on before the sale closes.
What should a buyer look for in a closing inspection? To start, he or she should make sure that the condition of the home hasn’t changed since the contract was signed several months earlier. Things can change in 60 days, and a buyer does not want any surprises at closing.
There are several “musts” in a walk-through: Ideally the buyer and his or her agent should both do the pre-closing inspection. They should turn on every appliance, open every door, make sure nothing is broken They should be certain everything the seller agreed to leave is actually there and in good shape and that when the sellers moved out, they did no damage to the home.
The contract should be checked for the items that the seller has agreed to leave. Was leaving the refrigerator part of the agreement? Are the window shades or curtains supposed to be left? Or was it agreed that the seller could take them?
If the seller is present at the walk-through and asks if they can take any items, the buyer can delay responding by asking for time to either think about it or check with someone else.
If something is missing or damaged and the seller is present, it may be better to avoid a confrontation. The buyer’s agent can speak with the seller or seller’s agent to confirm what is in the contract.
If missing items are not returned before the closing, you may need to agree together on a credit, renegotiate the price of the property, or delay the closing.
Michael Edlen has been in the top 1% of all agents nationwide for nearly 20 years and has successfully completed more than 900 transactions. He provides a broad range of real estate counseling and marketing services. He can be reached at 310-230-7373 or at Michael@MichaelEdlen.com. More tips and information are available on MichaelEdlen.com.