Final walk throughWhat is the “final walk through” in a home purchase? In Silicon Valley, and throughout California (and likely throughout the U.S.), buyers have the right to see the property just prior to close of escrow for one last visual inspection. What is the purpose of this visit? Why is it necessary?  Didn’t the buyers see it enough when they had all of their inspections?

Well, no.  There are a lot of reasons why it’s only fair for a home buyer to see the property again at the end of the escrow period, before it’s all finalized.  The contracts themselves explain the purpose of this buyer right (and seller obligation) pretty clearly.  As mentioned previously in this blog, we have 2 sets of forms in use in Santa Clara County – the CAR (California Association of Realtors) and the PRDS (Peninsula Regional Data Service).  On this point, they are pretty similar in what they say.  Please have a look.

(1)  The California Association of Realtors purchase agreement relays in paragraph 16 that:
FINAL VERIFICATION OF CONDITION: Buyer shall have the right to make a final inspection of the Property within 5 (or ) Days Prior to Close Of Escrow, NOT AS A CONTINGENCY OF THE SALE, but solely to confirm: (i) the Property is maintained pursuant to paragraph 9; (ii) Repairs have been completed as agreed; and (iii) Seller has complied with Seller’s other obligations under this Agreement (C.A.R. Form VP).

(2)  Similarly, the PRDS contract states in paragraph 21 that the:
Buyer shall be entitled to a “walk-through” inspection of the Property, not as a contingency of sale, but solely to confirm that all repairs have been completed and that the Property, including landscaping, is in no less than the same general condition as of the date of Acceptance. Seller shall, prior to Close of Escrow, Deliver to Buyer written documentation relating to any repairs undertaken pursuant to this Contract. Seller shall assure that, through such time period as is reasonably necessary for said “walk-through,” all utilities and services remain connected and active.

There are a few things happening at the walk through:

  • the buyer is entitled to see that the negotiated repairs have been completed (and to get the paperwork, such as receipts)
  • the buyer is entitled to make sure that the seller has maintained the property – some will “let it go”, stop watering plants or moving the lawn, etc.
  • anything else the seller was supposed to do (such as vacate the property or have tenants moved out) has happened

For many agents and buyers, the walk through is very quick, probably 30 minutes or less to do a quick visual scan to ensure that all’s well.  For others, it’s another run through with all of the systems: turning on the dishwasher, hot water, furnace, flushing toilets, and so on – to make sure that everything still works.  Much of the time, it’s an opportunity for the seller to show the buyer how things work (every home has quirks).

What it is NOT is a chance to renegotiate the contract. It is not a whole new type of inspection.  It is simply the chance to make sure all’s in the same general condition as when the home was bought, and if there were any repairs, they were done….plus anything else that was negotiated.

The final walk through is usually a joyous time.  When sellers are there it is very helpful to the buyer, and good will is created.   Sellers are not required to be there, but it’s nice if they are.  If there’s a rent back, often there are 2 walk throughs, one (mandated by the contract) prior to close of escrow, and a second one at the end of the rent back.

Sometimes there are unhappy surprises at the walk through.  This happened to Jim and me when we bought our first house in the Cambrian Park area in 1999.  A strategically placed trash can was hiding a hole in the wall the size of a dinner plate!  We got it resolved – but things like this are very important to note PRIOR to close of escrow.