Ask the Egghead: Is a final walk-through necessary?

Dear Egghead: I’m buying a house in a new community and it looks like closing time is nearly at hand. My new house is a two-hour drive away. Is it necessary to do a final walk-through?

ANSWER: It’s not required, but it’s a good idea. You want to be certain that no damage has occurred since you last saw the house, and that any repairs the seller offered to make have been completed satisfactorily. It’s an even better idea if you haven’t had a chance to view the house after the seller moved out. You might notice things that hadn’t been obvious when the house was occupied.

Problems large and small can crop up when a house is unoccupied. Here’s an example that happened to me with the first home I purchased. I did the final walkthrough a couple of days after the sellers moved out. Before leaving, the the sellers had unplugged the refrigerator while the icemaker was full of ice. After they left, the melting ice leaked through to the floor, creating a large pool of water on the kitchen floor and some leakage to the basement. Luckily, I was able to mop up the melted ice and restart the refrigerator. If there had been no intervention during the next 48 hours, there could have been considerable damage to the kitchen floor and the family room beneath the kitchen.

If you’re unable to attend, ensure your agent completes the walkthrough. At the very least, you want to make sure that all of the seller’s belongings and trash has been removed.

Here are some other tasks that should be completed during the walkthrough:

  • Check all doors and windows, ensuring they open, close, and lock without problems.
  • Turn on the washing machine, dishwasher, and oven to ensure they’re working.
  • Flush all the toilets to check the water flow and absence of leaking.
  • Ensure the garage door works.

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