It’s just hours from keys to your new home being placed in your hands. The sellers have moved out. The house is empty. Time for your final walk through.

So what is the purpose of the final walk through?

The purchase and sale gives a definition: to confirm the house is in substantially the same condition as at the time of purchase, reasonable wear and tear excepted.

So what is un-reasonable wear and tear? What pitfalls can a buyer encounter?

Let me tell you the story of what recently happened to my buyers on their walk through.

During the home inspection, there was a large stack of fire-wood at the back of the garage. That area was blocked from inspection.

At the final walk through, the wood was gone. To our great astonishment, there was a gaping hole in the foundation wall of the garage?!

I’ve seen a lot of things on final walk throughs, but up until this transaction I had never discovered such a defect hidden by the seller?

We called the buyer’s attorney, sure that we could ransom the seller for a significant amount of damages, or else back out. To our great surprise, the answer was NO.

It turns out the only remedy the buyer has on a final walk through is for damage that occurred after the P&S was signed. Since this hole had obviously been there for a long time, the buyers were not able to back out of the deal without jeopardizing their deposit. We did negotiate a settlement to cover the cost to repair the wall, but legally, it was not a clear path for the buyers.

On another deal, we went to our final walk through only to discover the seller did NOT move out?! Here is what it looked like 30 minutes before the scheduled closing.

I went back a total of 4 times over 3 days before we were able to verify the seller had moved out enough for the buyers to feel comfortable closing. The seller did not have enough equity in the house to do a hold-back of his closing proceeds. He cleaned out his garden shed and garage after the closing. Very frustrating for the buyers.

Other things that have tripped up buyers on final walk throughs: stored items in the attic that were forgotten by the seller, old paint, pesticides, and other items that can only be disposed of as hazardous waste.

Another thing: check the hot water. One of my buyers moved into the house on closing day, got up to shower the next morning, and there was no hot water. The seller was a good guy, and he ponied up funds for a new hot water heater, but because we didn’t catch it on the final walk through, technically he didn’t have to do anything about it.

In conclusion, although most final walk throughs go very smoothly, nothing should be taken for granted. Check everything!