The Last Inspection: Walk through, Don’t Just Walk by

In connection with every real estate closing there should always be a final inspection of the property by the buyer prior to closing. In industry terms this is called the “Final Walk Through”. The purpose of the Final Walk Through is for the buyer to make sure the seller has completely vacated the property and the property is being delivered in the condition that was contemplated by the contract. When closing day comes, typically the buyer has many things taking place: getting funds wired, arranging movers, painters, flooring or maybe still in the process of moving out of and cleaning the prior residence. It is easy and understandable that a buyer may want to cut corners somewhere out of the shear lack of time in the day. The Final Walk Through should not be one of the corners cut.

I recently experienced a couple of closings that reiterates the importance of actually walking through the property and not just walking by it. Both buyers at their closings stated and affirmed that they had performed the Final Walk Through, and I was authorized to proceed with recording the deed and disbursing the proceeds to the seller. I recorded the deed and contacted the parties to let them know that the closing was complete. I then received a frantic call from one buyer that the seller had left the property completely trashed and even removed the stove and microwave that was to stay. The other buyer visited the property after closing only to find that water was leaking and had damaged the garage ceiling.

Both buyers asked me if there was anything I could do for them? I regrettably informed them that after the deed was recorded, I was bound to release all funds to the seller. The only redress they now had was through the court system if they could not get the seller to address the issues. When I pointed out to both buyers that they had signed my “Final Walk Through” form, both clients stated they were in too much of a hurry to go through the property so they just drove by the property prior to closing. 

This is an important lesson for all buyers and I always advise the following:

  1. Always do a final inspection of the property prior to closing - not the day before, but rather an hour or two prior to closing.
  2. If the property is not in the condition required by the contract or the seller has not completely vacated, it is OK to sign the documents but, do not authorize the attorney to record or sign the “Final Walk Through” form until everything is in order.

Published by J. Chris Huff on December 1, 2016