Homebuying: 4 Critical Steps for the Final Walk-Through

stack of moving boxes and chair ...
ShutterstockAt final walk-through an empty home can feel cold, sterile or hollow -- and might be littered with someone else's junk.
By Brendon DeSimone

The final walk-through in real estate was designed so that the buyer could literally "walk through" one last time before the closing. From time to time, a buyer and seller will have negotiated any number of fixes during escrow. The walk-through gives the buyer an opportunity to make sure all the agreed-upon work has been done to specifications and that everything is in working order.

Sometimes, buyers are so excited to close that they quickly whisk through the walk-through without taking time to inspect the property. This can lead to small issues once the buyers take ownership. On the other hand, the final walk-through can raise both positive and negative emotions during this final part of the sale process.

It's smart to think things through and take the walk-through seriously. Don't see it as simply checking a box.

Here are some things buyers should consider before and during their walk-through.

Don't do the walk-through the day of closing. A walk-through can uncover repairs that need to be made, but that you didn't know about before. If you do the walk-through the same day as the closing, there may not be time to get things remedied. It's not uncommon for two walk-throughs to happen. The first identifies some issues for the buyer, and the second makes sure those issues were addressed.

Check the power outlets. Nowadays with mobile phones, it's easy to plug a phone in and out of all of the outlets to make sure the electricity works. You want to avoid moving in all your stuff, only to realize some outlets don't work and you lack light in a bedroom. Bring your phone and charger to the walk-through and test all the outlets. It's quick and easy.

Be on the lookout for the sellers' leftover junk. Sellers are notorious for leaving junk behind, so take the time to check the garage, attic and under the deck. The sellers may just assume you want their old paint cans or a propane tank for a future grill. In fact, they should leave the place completely empty. At times some left-behinds, such as the paint, can be toxic or require special provisions for disposing. (In one situation, a seller left behind all kinds of used oil that needed to go to a certain, state-approved car repair shop to be disposed of properly.) These unwanted items become yours after you close.

Be prepared for a surprise. Often times, buyers fall in love with a home that's full of furniture, art and belongings. They see it as a home and remember a warm feeling. Fast-forward to the close of escrow and you're faced with an empty home, which can feel cold, sterile or hollow. Buyers are often surprised by how they feel entering an empty home. Not only is it absent any furniture and "stuff," but sometimes an empty home shows its imperfections, too. The sun may have slightly bleached floors, showing the outline of a rug. There may be carpet stains or holes in the wall from a flat screen TV or paintings. An empty home tends to show poorly, so prepare yourself before the walk-through.

The journey toward homeownership is often a long one, filled with lots of excitement and ups and downs. The final walk-through is one of the very last steps of what could be a multiple-year process. Consider the walk-through in advance and prepare for it mentally, emotionally and physically. Know what you want to look for, have a checklist and keep your emotions and feelings in check. Doing so will make for a smooth ride to the close of escrow.

Brendon DeSimone is the author of "Next Generation Real Estate: New Rules for Smarter Home Buying & Faster Selling," the go-to insider's guide for navigating and better understanding the complex and ever-evolving world of buying and selling a home. Bringing more than a decade of residential real estate experience, DeSimone is a nationally recognized real estate expert and has appeared on top media outlets including ABC's 20/20, Good Morning America, HGTV, FOX News, CNBC & FOX Business. You can follow him on Twitter or Facebook.

Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Zillow or AOL.

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