What is the walk through?
The purpose of the walk through visit when you are just about to settle on a home is designed to ensure that:
- The house is in the same condition as when you bought it (minus normal wear and tear). That means no leaks have developed, no windows have broken, the toilets are still flushing properly, etc.
- Any repairs that the seller was to have done have been completed.
Some walk through surprises
Unfortunately, there are frequently unexpected (and often unwelcome) surprises for the buyer at the walk through. Here are some of the most common misconceptions about what sellers are legally required to do:
“Don’t they have to have it professionally cleaned”? Nope. The only stipulation is that the house be swept clean of debris. The seller is not obligated to clean the oven or the refrigerator or even mop the floors.
“There is a big dark section of wood where they had an area rug and the surrounding rectangle is faded. They didn’t disclose that.” While there is a section on the seller’s disclosure asking if there are imperfections or staining in the floor coverings, most sellers will claim to not be aware as they only moved the rugs upon moving out of the house. This is not a material defect, so it’s not something you can require them to “fix”.
“They took the grill!” Remember, if it’s not attached to the house, it is personal property. If you want a grill, free-standing planters, outdoor furniture or even the shed, be sure your agent specifies those items as being included in contract.
“There are all these nails/picture hangers on the walls. Don’t they have to remove them and patch the holes?” No, they don’t. Consider that if time allowed (remember, sellers are often moving out the day before settlement) and they were to spackle holes, those areas would stand out against the rest of the walls, especially if the wall paint was something other than white. If your new home looked like it had the measles, you would feel compelled to paint which you may or may not have previously planned on doing. The hope is that many of the areas where there are nails or picture hangers will be covered by things you put on the walls. If not, you can decide when/how to repair them so you’re not faced with having to paint the entire house whether you’d planned to or not.
“Why are the tv brackets there but not the tv?” Because the contract expressly says that brackets and any other hardware that is installed (including curtain hanging hardware) remains with the property unless excluded by the agreement. The tv technically hangs on the bracket, but is not attached to the wall itself. So, if you want the tv (or you want the bracket removed), specify that. Keep in mind that removing the bracket will leave a hole to be repaired.
Know what to expect
If you know what to expect and what to look for, you will be better prepared at the walk through. Being forewarned about some of these particulars means you will be less likely to be disappointed by inaccurate assumptions. If you do have questions about what will remain or be taken out of the property, be sure to ask your agent (preferably before you submit your offer!).