Worried that the house you bought will look different when you finally move in? A pre-possession inspection, commonly called a “final walkthrough”, lets buyers verify the condition of their property before the transaction is complete. At a walkthrough, buyers have the opportunity to assess the property’s current state and ensure the agreed-upon repairs and/or conditions made in the purchase agreement are met.  calgary walkthrough guide

The final walkthrough typically occurs days from the closing date, before the home buying transaction is settled, and it is one of the last steps to closing on a house. 

While doing a final walkthrough is optional, we highly recommend it to help identify any issues before you close on the house. Note that a final walkthrough is not a home inspection. Here is our condensed guide with some of our best tips to consider when doing your final walkthrough.

The Purchase Agreement

The purchase agreement contract outlines the condition the property should be in once ownership is officially transferred from the seller to the buyer. This contract will be written in legal terms, so consulting with your real estate agent and lawyer will help you understand exactly what is being agreed to. In some situations, the purchase agreement can include repairs and other changes / repairs that must be completed (ideally before) the final walkthrough, or with evidence that it will be done.  For example, your inspection could reveal a faulty furnace and as part of your negotiations, the sellers could be responsible for repairing this prior to you moving in. 

It is important you work with an experienced agent who knows how to detail exactly what is expected to avoid misunderstandings or loopholes. Consider this, if the seller is required to "fix a water line" it leaves opportunity for the sellers to do it themselves and not through a professional, or if a purchase contract does not require a seller to clean the property or make small repairs, they are not required to do so. 

The only responsibility the seller has is to ensure the house and appliances are in working order. A final walkthrough is paramount because if damage or poor conditions are discovered on the day of or after possession, the buyer may not be able to receive compensation or a repair from the seller. 

When is a final walkthrough scheduled?

We briefly mentioned that the final walkthrough should occur as close to the closing day as possible. Ideally, this is within 24 hours of the closing to ensure nothing is missed. At this point, the seller should have vacated the property along with their personal belongings.

During your first viewing, there was likely furniture and personal belongings obscuring scuffs, holes, or other imperfections and issues. With the seller vacated along with their furnishings, this gives buyers a better view of the property. 

Buyers should check that the home systems and appliances are still working. A home is a big investment, financially and legally. By passing on the opportunity to do a final walkthrough, a home buyer is opening themselves up to the risk of paying for additional repairs or damage that may be discovered later on. 

This is also a good opportunity to ensure all the goods included are there. Including the more often forgotten items like mail keys, garage openers, shed keys, and other controls. 

Who attends the final walkthrough?

The buyer and their real estate agent walkthrough the property to look for new damage and ensure that all the systems and appliances are included in the sale work. A professional real estate agent will know what to look for and help guide you through the walkthrough.

The Final Walkthrough Checklist

With nerves and excitement, it is easy to forget what to look for. Especially for first-time homebuyers who may not be familiar with the workings of a home, a checklist is essential to keep on track. Knowing what to look for ensures you make the most of your final walkthrough.

At a minimum, unless stipulated in the contract, none of the seller’s belongings should be in your home and any furniture, fixtures, or appliances included in the sale should remain. If repairs were negotiated, they should be complete, and you should assess the home for any new or existing problems missed. 

During the moving process, the floor, walls, and carpets are more susceptible to damage as heavy objects are transported out of the house.

Here are some things to look for to determine if your home is in good condition or not.

Indoors

  • Check electrical outlets and test every light fixture for hazards and ensure they are in working condition

  • Test faucets and pipes (some houses may not have hot water) and see if the drains are clear 

  • Watch out for mold or water damage

  • Look out for pest infestations. This is not always easy to identify, but some signs are seeing nests, droppings, strange odors, gnaw marks, and shredded paper. The best places to look are in corners, behind appliances, in bathrooms, and outdoors.

  • Test appliances such as the stove, microwave, fridge, dishwasher, dryer, and washing machine.  

  • Ensure windows and doors can open, close, and lock

  • Flush the toilets

  • Inspect the walls, ceilings, and floors for damage 

  • Test the heat and air conditioning and all HVAC units

  • Ensure seller’s belongings are gone

  • Ensure seller left fixtures outlined in the sales agreement

  • Verify repairs agreed to in purchase agreement and inspection report 

  • Make sure the home isn’t extremely dirty and uncared for

  • Window coverings are there if included in contract 
  • Inspect crawlspaces and attic for items or damages
  • Check all exhaust fans
  • Turn on all fireplaces 

Outdoors

  • Ensure the seller has removed garbage and debris

  • Look for signs of pests (tracks, nesting, droppings, grass clippings, etc)

  • Check for damage to the front and back yard, mailbox, and other areas

  • If storage sheds, landscapes, and other yard items were included in the home sale, check to make sure they are there. Plants, trees, and flowers affixed to the ground are expected to be included

  • If the home has garage door openers and remotes, check if they work

  • Ensure no shrubs, plants or flowers have been removed 
  • Air Conditioning system is free from debris 
  • Ensure external gates aren't locked, if they are, test keys

How can a seller prepare and protect themselves for a final walkthrough?

The ultimate goal for a home seller is to have a successful home sale. The best way to meet this goal is by fulfilling your end of the purchase agreement. The purchase agreement contract lists the items to be left on the property and any repairs that need to be made by closing day. To make sure your home is up to standard, review the agreements laid out in the contract and make every effort to complete them. Always keep the communication clear and open with your REALTOR® and ensure they're doing necessary steps to help you achieve your goals. 

Completing repairs

In the case where your agreement states you will make certain repairs before closing, do those repairs in a timely fashion to avoid any complaints from the buyer. The best rule of thumb is to communicate about what repairs are being made and keep buyers informed of any delays.

You should always keep a record of the repairs with receipts and other paperwork that prove that the changes agreed upon were made and is often required in most contracts. 

Always remember, according to RECA, until the deal closes and the buyer takes possession of the property, the seller is responsible for the property this includes maintaining insurance is in place.

Cleaning Your Home

Although cleaning isn’t required, it is a good gesture to leave the house in good condition for the new homeowners. Thoroughly canvas the property to ensure nothing gets left behind. A seller doesn’t necessarily need to conduct a deep clean, but at least sweeping, vacuuming, and clearing clutter is recommended at minimum. Keep in mind, this is an exciting and amazing day for the new buyers, they've likely spent a lot of money to buy your home (especially if you marketed it with the Real Estate Partners Team) and leaving the home with damages, dirt, and debris can really let the new owners down. 

Have a detailed purchase agreement

The property you are selling used to be your home too. Chances are you decorated how you liked including purchasing furniture, fixtures, and appliances. In your purchase agreement, be detailed in what you will leave for the seller and avoid conflicts.

Generally, furniture, electronics, and decor are dubbed personal property or chattels, but fixtures and other items attached to the home might be considered part of the sale. If you bought chandeliers or other fixtures you’d like to keep with you, be sure to detail it in the contract to avoid losing it or the sale.

What if I find an issue during my house walkthrough and can I back out?

Short answer: Yes, buyers can back out if the house does not meet the standards outlined in the purchase agreement. If your buying a home and issues are discovered, document them and speak to your lawyer and agent. It is best if buyer and seller can resolve the issue between themselves and their lawyers. However, occasionally, this isn’t possible and a buyer may be required to take a seller to court. There are a few other outcomes that can occur: 

Push the Closing Date

If your new home is damaged, left in an unmanageable condition, with missing or non-functioning appliances, you can demand a delay in closing for the seller to make the necessary changes. A delay gives your seller enough time to address repairs and bring your home up to the standard dictated in the purchase agreement.

Your Calgary REP agent and attorney will assist and help handle the communication, never address these issues directly with the seller and their agents, always keep your representation in the loop. 

Renegotiate the Contract

In some cases, a seller moves far away or refuses to make repairs. In this case, you can negotiate the contract to remedy the problem. The seller may agree to pay the buyer from the sale to cover the cost of repairs.

Set Up A Holdback

A holdback is the act of setting aside sale proceeds, which will not be released until repairs have been made to the purchased property or the seller meets the contractual obligations. This holdback is held by the buyer lawyer in trust. The purpose is to incentivize the seller to fix the home for them to get their money. There are many terms factors to consider when setting up a holdback, it's vital in these situations that you discuss this with your legal representation.  

Walk Away

Often not the best solution for anyone involved, there are situation where you might find yourself not taking possession of the home. You can also take legal action and your real estate counsel can advise you on next steps to take or begin taking actions on your behalf. 

Final Summary

The final walkthrough aims to give you peace of mind that the property you bought is ready to be your new home. Although it is not mandatory, it is a crucial step in the home buying process to avoid any surprises. Refer back to our checklist to certify that you are getting your home in the same condition or better as the first inspection.


Posted by Calgary Homes Real Estate Partners Team on
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