The 3 Day Final Walk Through – A Seller’s Guide to Getting it Right | Milwaukee Real Estate
The 3 Day Final Walk Through – A Seller’s Guide to Getting it Right
In a Shifting Market, one of the most important aspects of selling your home is the condition of your property. Many sellers take painstaking steps to stage, clean, and prepare their home for the first day of showings, but do not exercise that same care towards closing day and the buyer’s final walk through. Because of this, we have developed a Seller’s Guide for the Final Walk Through.
Many sellers are unaware that the buyer of their property is entitled to a 3-day walk through of their home prior to closing. This is the buyer’s last chance to inspect the home and raise objections to the condition of the home prior to closing. Too many sellers take a casual approach to the condition of their property as they are leaving their home for the last time and may not realize that the final walk through is the buyer’s opportunity to walk away from the property in the event the home has not been prepared for this crucial day. In a shifting market, if your home is not ready for the final walk through day, the buyer can delay closing and even walk away based on condition. According to the National Association of Realtors, 5% of contracts are terminated after the final walkthrough and you should expect this statistic to climb in a changing real estate market.
What is the 3 Day Final Walk-Through?
A final walkthrough is an opportunity for home buyers to inspect the house before the official closing. Typically, the final walk-through is attended by the buyer and the buyer's agent, without the seller or seller's agent present. This gives the buyer freedom to inspect the property at their leisure, without feeling pressure from the seller.
Here are the Top 5 Pitfalls Seller’s Make during the Final Walk Through
1.) The Seller is Still Living in the Home
One of the most common final walkthrough issues that we see is that the seller has not vacated the property. I cannot even begin to tell you how common this is. The day of closing typically belongs to the buyer. It is prudent for all sellers to have vacated and cleaned the property prior to the closing day. All personal property should be removed, garage empty, and house cleaned for the buyer to take possession once the closing documents have been signed.
2.) Home Inspection Repairs Aren’t Completed
Most home buyers elect to perform a home inspection when buying a house. This process involves a discovery period on the home with a licensed home inspector professional who examines the home for safety and compliance issues. Typically, there is a negotiation period after an inspection between the buyer and the seller and the two parties negotiate repairs as a part of the sales contract. In some cases, after inspection, items that have been negotiated between the two parties have not been completed and they are discovered at the final walk through. In this case, the buyer can object to closing until the repairs are completed. Sellers, be aware that you will need to produce written evidence of all repairs to the title company with written receipts and lien waivers from the contractor. Ensuring that all items on the inspection amendment are addressed well in advance of closing will ensure a smoother 3 day walk through and prevent closing delays.
3.) The Home Is Dirty
This is probably the biggest failure on the part of most sellers in preparing for the final walk through. We see so many final walk throughs where the home is in disarray and not prepared well for this crucial final step. Most purchase contracts have some type of language discussing how the home should be left. In Wisconsin, the home should be left in “broom-clean condition”. While “broom-clean condition” can mean different things to different people, a dirty home is another final walk through issue that can delay or kill a deal. Make sure you clean the ovens, kitchen refrigerator, basement refrigerator, garage, and that the home is emptied of all personal affects. REMOVE ALL paint cans. Probably our biggest seller mistake. No one wants the paint cans and typically they are always left behind.
4.) Walls Are Damaged
The home needs to appear in the same condition as when the offer to purchase was written and that means when removing artwork, TV arms, and shelving brackets that the walls are repaired, spackled, and repainted to match the existing wall finish. Sellers leaving nail holes in the wall or damage from the family photos going up the stairs is a 3 day walk through issue more than 50% of the time. Sellers, repair the walls and paint any nicks and chips that the movers cause during your move. Ensure that the home is free of damaged walls, nicks in the woodwork and trim, and that you have addressed any scuff marks from the move.
4.) Fixtures are Missing
This is one of the most common mistakes made on an offer to purchase and can lead to the most complex problems at the final walk through. On every Wisconsin Offer to Purchase there is a line item for Inclusions and Exclusions. The seller may elect to exclude their precious family dining room light fixture or favorite kitchen appliance. That is all fine, but that exclusion needs to be expressly documented as excluded on the Offer to Purchase to be NOT included in the sale. If this noted exclusion is not reflected in the sale, the fixture must remain with the home. A very common mistake made by Realtors is not verifying the inclusions and exclusions carefully enough and then transferring those items and expressly listing them on the sales contract. The most common offenses are washers, dryers, dining room light fixtures, and basement refrigerators.
5.) Negotiated Personal Property Is Missing
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 is strongly recommended that when sellers agree to leave personal property or have negotiated a furniture sale as part of their agreement, that all parties utilized a written amendment to the offer to purchase spelling out the terms of their agreement so that there is no confusion. In Wisconsin, we use a document called the “Bill of Sale”. This is a separate amendment to the offer to purchase that outlines the agreement between buyer and seller to leave certain personal items or fixtures for an agreed upon amount and outlines the terms of which is being left.
A perfect 3 day walk through for most buyers should have the following criteria: The home is free of all personal items, the basement is clean and tidy, and the seller has left additional items germane to the home such as old light fixtures, original tile, extra roofing tiles, etc. The home has been professionally cleaned and smells good. The seller has left all the appliance manuals and a list of service providers for the home. Seller has left directions on garbage day and instructions on how to call for water, cable, and local utilities.
Be a good neighbor and treat the new homeowner of your home as you would want to be treated. Moving out on the day of closing is not ideal and can leave feelings of misgiving for the buyer. Be sure to prepare well for this day and perhaps leave a nice gift for the new buyer as a way to pass on the baton on this journey in life. Leaving on good terms and helping the next person in line is a testament of character and reflects on you and your stewardship.
Powers Realty Group is a distinctive boutique real estate broker focused on the needs of customers delivering exceptional results. We are the trusted local experts. Call us today about buying or selling your home.Call Suzanne Powers