Buying a home not only takes a financial toll on many Americans, it may also take an emotional toll, as well. Two thousand Americans participated in a 2018 Homes.com survey. Approximately 40 percent of the participants ranked buying a home as the single most stressful experience in modern life. The survey also found that 44 percent of the participants felt “nervous” about purchasing a home, and that 20 percent weren’t confident about the process.
However, experts say that preparation can help alleviate much of this anxiety. With that in mind, the real estate lawyers here at Eskander Loshak LLP are providing South Florida homebuyers with the following tips to help them prepare for the final walkthrough.
Remember why you’re doing the walkthrough
Since buying a home isn’t inexpensive (especially around Fort Lauderdale or anywhere in South Florida), you undoubtedly want everything to be perfect – or as perfect as it can be. So, you’ve probably had a home inspection done and asked the owner to rectify any problems identified by the inspector. The final walkthrough is your chance to ensure that the seller has had any repairs done as agreed, and to ensure that there haven’t been any other significant changes or problems since the last time you viewed the home. This is also your last chance to bring any relevant concerns based on your observations to the seller’s attention.
Having said that, many homebuyers, especially first-time homebuyers, confuse this step with a home inspection. The final walkthrough is not a home inspection and does not present an opportunity to initiate new negotiations for repairs. In other words, you can use this opportunity to see if anything has gone wrong since your last visit, and if it has, the amount of any necessary repairs can be deducted from the seller’s proceeds. But you can’t use it is a chance to say, “You must also fix this, this and this, or I won’t buy your house.”
What to bring
Never go to a final walkthrough empty handed. Here’s what you should bring:
- Your final contract. This document specifies everything that should be in the house when you buy it – such as appliances, fixtures and so forth. It also specifies what shouldn’t be left behind.
- Notepad. It may sound old fashioned, but a pen and paper are essential tools for your final walkthrough. Making note of any questions or concerns (in writing) will force you to pay attention to detail, reducing the chances that you’ll miss something important. You’ll also have a written record in case any disputes arise later.
- Phone. This is also an important tool. Use it to photograph the house and anything that seems different from your last visit. Again, this is useful documentation in the event of a dispute.
- Phone charger. Not only will this save you from the considerable embarrassment and aggravation of your phone “dying,” while you are taking photos, but it also makes it easy to test the electrical outlets throughout the house.
- Inspection summary. This list provides a handy reminder of everything that should have been done.
Oh, and don’t forget to bring your real estate agent along. Aside from the fact that it’s always good to have someone else along to make sure you don’t overlook anything, South Florida real estate agents typically have the knowledge and experience to address your questions and concerns.
What to do
It can be hard to keep track of everything you’re supposed to do during a final walkthrough, especially if you’ve never done one before. Don’t forget to:
- Verify that all of the items included in the home purchase are still in the house
- Verify that all of the repairs the seller agreed to after the home inspection have been completed
- Carefully check all kitchen and bathroom plumbing
- Check for any significant changes since your last visit
- If appliances are included in the purchase, ask about the warranties and request them if they are still in effect
- Ask about utilities (provider, turn-on dates, if the seller was up-to-date on payments and so forth)
- Do a close visual inspection of the exterior
- Look for evidence of pests (rodents, insects and so forth)
Finally, if you are buying a house in Miami-Dade, Broward, or Palm Beach, and you have legal questions or concerns about any aspect of your transaction – or if you have purchased a property and a dispute ensued, we are here to help. Contact the experienced real estate lawyers at Eskander Loshak LLP for comprehensive guidance and representation today. Call us today at (954) 334-1122 to schedule your free consultation.