Hendersonville NC Real Estate Blog: How do you handle the final walk through?

How do you handle the final walk through?

In representing a buyer, how do you handle their final walk through? Do you have any set rules for this?

I found one that I stick to no matter. No more than 24 hours, preferably within 2 hours of, your closing a walk through must to be performed. And it must be performed by the buyers realtor and all buyers involved. And the second rule is that the property has to be 100% empty at thatKnow the house before closing point.

If you are a buyer and don't get why this is important, then read on. Furniture, boxes and other objects can cover may issues. You absolutely must be able to investigate the home one final time, in it's empty state. Why? To see if anything has changed since you last saw it.

Case in point, a friend of mine a few years bought a home in WIlmington NC. The Realtor took them on the final walk through just a few hours prior to closing. The house was still full of boxes and so they were unable to really get in and see anything. In fact it was packed with boxes! They went to closing, signed all of the paperwork, and got the keys and went right to their new home. What did they find? Cat urine in bedroom carpets, so bad that they could not save it and even had to pull the subflooring below the carpet. Who paid for this? The buyers did, becasue they accepted the home as they saw it in the walk though. The walk through is to identify issues PRIOR to closing. These issues can get resolved before closing if found. Once the contracts are signed the buyer is out of luck.

Another reason buyers must inspect properties close to closing, is that anything can happen within the forces of nature. A tree can fall down on the home, winds can loosen shingles on a roof, or any number of other scenarios. Who pays for that? The person who owns the property the day the mess is discovered. If it is found prior to closing the seller will do it and more than likely they will have insurance to cover it. If you close and do not see the mess until after closing, then the buyer pays. Does a buyer really want to start home ownership with repairs and a fight with a new insurance company?

As Realtors we are held in a position to make sure that this does not happen to our clients. We need to be very careful about this rule. Always do a walk through as close to closing as possible, and always inspect the property when fully empty. As buyers doing the due diligence really does involve this point. Realtor or buyer, always insist on a walk through with an empty property the day of closing, hopefully within just hours of closing time. 

Doing this can save head aches for buyers and Realtors alike.

Jerri McCombs, Advanced Virtual Assistant 

828/553-5190 or info@JerriMcCombs.com

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Comment balloon 37 commentsJerri McCombs, Broker • September 29 2011 11:39AM


I am to do a walk though today with my buyer. I will look behind boxes and check out the rood etc. Thanks for the reminder.

Posted by Elizabeth Birmingham (EB Realty) over 9 years ago
Yes I also agree we must inspect fully at least 24 hours before closing.
Posted by MichelleCherie Carr Crowe Just Call...408-252-8900, Family Helping Families Buy & Sell Homes 40+ Years (Get Results Team...Just Call (408) 252-8900! . DRE #00901962 . Licensed to Sell since 1985 . Altas Realty) over 9 years ago
Jerri....very important reminder for buyers! I always do one, sometimes the day before closing if the home is empty, otherwise usually right before the closing. You never know what you are going to find.
Posted by Christine Smith, Exclusive Buyer Agent & Attorney, Canton, MA (Buyers Brokers Only LLC - www.BuyersBrokersOnly.com) over 9 years ago

Jerri,  For me, it depends on the status of the property. I will typically conduct a final walk through 3-5 days before closing.  I will, however, do one final pass through the property before funding.  The reason, as you point out, anything can happen.

Posted by Kathleen Daniels, Probate & Trust Specialist, Probate Real Estate (KD Realty - 408.972.1822) over 9 years ago

Great Rule, Jerri.  Doing the final walk through essentially on the way to the closing is a must. This is a big day for most buyers and seeing their new home ready for them as expected should be a positive part of it.


Posted by Bruce Kunz, REALTOR®, Brick & Howell NJ Homes for Sale (C21 Solid Gold Realty, Brick, NJ, 732-920-2100) over 9 years ago

Jerri - I do exactly the same as you -- right before closing and MUST be empty.  Good advice!

Posted by Barbara Altieri, REALTOR-Fairfield County CT Homes/Condos For Sale (Kinard Realty Group Fairfield and New Haven County CT Real Estate) over 9 years ago

I try to do inspections within 48 hours before closing unless it's new construction and then it's fine when done up to a week before closing.  I have my clients do two walk-throughs - during their contingency period and right before close.  As long as everything is in shape, we sign off.  However, in California, the walk-through is not a condition for closing so even if we find something it's up to me to work it out with the other agent.

Posted by Bryan Robertson over 9 years ago
Jerri, I often do two, and at least one is on the way to the settlement table. And itsngot to be empty.
Posted by Patricia Kennedy, Home in the Capital (RLAH Real Estate) over 9 years ago


I ask my buyers to do a walk just before contingency removals and again 2-3 days before the actual close.  All buyers must be present at the final walk through.

Posted by Evelyn Kennedy, Alameda, Real Estate, Alameda, CA (Alain Pinel Realtors) over 9 years ago

In Wilmington?  They should have worked with us!

Dick Beals

Posted by Dick & Sandy Beals (Wilmington Real Estate 4U Wilmington, NC) over 9 years ago

Excellent advice and one that has bitten me once or twice over the years when sellers were running behind and everything "just couldn't get out on time" and buyers so close to closing just didn't want to ruffle feathers at the last minute. Now I always advise against going to closing without seeing a house completely empty within 2-4 hours of closing. Taking this conservative stance is in the best interests of the buyer every time.

Posted by Charlie Dresen, Steamboat Springs, CO e-Pro (Steamboat Sotheby's International Realty) over 9 years ago


Outstanding post and a great read, congratulations on the gold star.

Good Luck and success.

Lou Ludwig

Posted by Lou Ludwig, Designations Earned CRB, CRS, CIPS, GRI, SRES, TRC (Ludwig & Associates) over 9 years ago

Excellent practices!  I've had buyers ask to do walk-through the evening before closing and I always try to get them to change to the day of closing.  It may be inconvenient but it is the best way to protect the buyer.

Posted by Kathryn Acciari, Brand Ambassador and Business Coach (Century 21 Real Estate) over 9 years ago

What about when the occupancy is for COE plus 2 or 3 days?  That is very common in my area.  Many sellers want to know that the home will really close before they move everything out.  I have also seen financing pulled at the last minute and the buyers default. 

Posted by Nancy Makowsky (Coldwell Banker) over 9 years ago

I usually schedule the walk thru about an hour before closing so we can see it all like it is after they left.

Posted by Mike Frazier, Northwest Tennessee Realtor (Carousel Realty of Dyer County) over 9 years ago

The walk-thru is often overlooked yet an important part of the buying process. I haven't ready many posts about this subject, so it's great that you wrote it.

Posted by Dan and Amy Schuman, Luxury Home Specialists (Howard Hanna Real Estate Services) over 9 years ago

My first three deals each closed the day after a night of storms. I thought my phone would melt down each morning in fielding and making calls to assess and fix damage.


Posted by Deb McNeill, Fort Worth Real Estate (Flying M Team Small World Realty Fort Worth, Tx) over 9 years ago

Hi Jerri,

Sounds like a great business practice to follow!!

Posted by Dorie Dillard CRS GRI ABR, Serving Buyers & Sellers in NW Austin Real Estate (Coldwell Banker Realty ~ 512.750.6899) over 9 years ago

I'm about to leave for one now and we are closing tomorrow afternoon.  I prefer doing it the day before in the event issues show up, we still have time to address them - hopefully - before the closing.  Our contract specifies the home has to empty and broom clean. 

Posted by Bonnie Vaughan, CNE SFR - Buyers/Sellers - Lackawanna & Surroundin over 9 years ago

You don't want to inherit the renter or their stuff. Hold off the closing until the place is empty, so the kitty cat damage shows. Using your eyes and your nose. MEOW.

Posted by Andrew Mooers | 207.532.6573, Northern Maine Real Estate-Aroostook County Broker (MOOERS REALTY) over 9 years ago

Best Pratices in handling final walk through... It's a great reminder sometimes we forgot some little important things it's really helpful to have a list.

Posted by Rob Kittle, "We Specialize, You Benefit!" -Kittle Real Estate (Kittle Real Estate) over 9 years ago

Jerri - I am always amazed that agent will wish to conduct a walk thru 48 hours before a closing.. so much can happen within that 48 hours! Best, G

Posted by Gay E. Rosen, As Real as Real Estate Gets! (Julia B. Fee Sotheby's International Realty) over 9 years ago

Agreed. The walk through should not deteriorate into another home inspection, however. I have had walk throughs which took an hour, and that is excessive. 

Posted by J. Philip Faranda, Broker-Owner (J. Philip Faranda (J. Philip R.E. LLC) Westchester County NY) over 9 years ago

Final walk thrus aren't very common in my area anymore as many transactions deal with a seller's temp lease back, so if the house isn't perfect after closing, they still have recourse to go after their "tenant" who was the seller.

Posted by Donna Harris, Realtor,Mediator,Ombudsman,Property Tax Arbitrator (Donna Homes, powered by JPAR - TexasRealEstateMediationServices.com) over 9 years ago

You've given buyers out there excellent examples of why you should do a walk-thru on a vacant home right before closing.  Thanks for sharing

Posted by Nancy Pav, Nancy Pav, Your "GottaHave" Realtor (Century 21 Redwood Realty) over 9 years ago

I have one in the morning that I am looking forward to.  We had a buyer who found a 4 x 4 section of the bedroom's hardwood floor missing when the seller's furniture was removed. That was a big surprise.

Posted by Nancy Milton Holtzscher, Edwardsville/Glen Carbon, Illinois Broker, REALTOR (RE/MAX Alliance in St.Louis' Illinois suburbs) over 9 years ago

California Association of Realtors changed the name of the "final walk-through" inspection to "Verification of Property Condition" because there were so many problems.  It sounded like another inspection with a possible contingency when it's really intended to (1) confirm the property is in the same condition at closing as it was when the Buyer made their offer, except for (2) verifying that repairs which were agreed to be completed, have been completed.

Of course what do you do if the buyer's loan committment expires in a day or two, and repairs haven't been completed?  Escrow companies out here don't do 'hold backs' any more.

Posted by Lloyd Binen, Silicon Valley Realtor since 1976; 408-373-4411 (Certified Realty Services) over 9 years ago

I have seen nice appliances switched for inexpensive, damage done during moving, lots of issues over the years.  I want that final walk-through an empty home, the day of closing. 

Posted by Marge Piwowarski, Phoenix AZ Horse Property, LLC (Phoenix AZ Horse Property) over 9 years ago

We "walk" until COE.  Here too many properties are vacant.  We have the formal walk through and I hold on to the release until we record.  "Stuff" can happen with a vacant home:  burglary, vandalism, water leaks, etc.  It makes me feel better to keep an eyeball on the property all the way to recording when all of the above can become the buyer's "problem"

Posted by Renée Donohue~Home Photography, Western Michigan Real Estate Photographer (Savvy Home Pix) over 9 years ago

Great post. It's not a bad idea to have the inspector accompany the buyers in the walk through.

Posted by Gabe Sanders, Stuart Florida Real Estate (Real Estate of Florida specializing in Martin County Residential Homes, Condos and Land Sales) over 9 years ago

The day of closing is always best but when my closing is at 8:30 in the morning, the day before generally works. You are correct, you want to make sure the home is as the buyer remembers, the repairs have been made, if any were asked for, have been done. I sometimes do a walk through with my clients a week before close as well if there were repairs made. We want to make sure the repairs were done as requested and if there is a problem, we have time to address it. Then go back the day of or before for final walk through.

Posted by Shelly Sierra (RE/MAX Trinity) over 9 years ago

Thanks for all of the responses! I think this is such an important step, and would never skimp on it.

I follow the time lines for repairs and try to keep up with them as they are being completed. I check them as they are completed and so that is something that is off my check list before the day of closing. That way there are no issues the day of closing involving repairs. I also check on my own a few days prior to make sure things like appliances are not switched or other things.

As long as we do our job of following through, we can really reduce the issues that may arise along the way. That way, closing day really becomes focused on Closing! And that is what it is all about for everyone involved.

Thanks again for all of the responses!

Posted by Jerri McCombs, Broker, Hendersonville NC Relocation (Dogwood Real Estate Services) over 9 years ago

Jerri, I think Lloyd brought up a good point in comment #30 about it being called a "Verification of Property Condition" on the CAR form due to the previous misinterpretation.

Congrats on the featured post! :)


Posted by Bob & Leilani Souza, Greater Sacramento Area Homes, Land & Investments (Souza Realty 916.408.5500) over 9 years ago

Also, walk-through to verify that things "fixed" to and/or included in the purchase of the property are still there.  Make sure to be very specific in the purchase agreement regarding chandeliers, window coverings, plasma televisions, washer/dryer, potted plants, garage door openers, etc. 

Posted by Former Agent (None) over 9 years ago

Jerri - I just had a walkthrough, a week or so ago & I requested the seller to be absent for this (they had been present for every other inspection, and it was just a bid odd).  We found boxes still in the master bedroom, and a half full fridge.  Not a big deal, but I had anticipated the property to be 100% empty. I had some other issues with the seller which will now lead me to detail exactly what my buyer's expectations are so everyone is on the same page.

Posted by Carol Zingone, Global Realtor in Jax Beach, FL - ABR, CRS, CIPS (Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Florida Network Realty) over 9 years ago

We used to do our closings at the house, it had to be empty and the broker brought the chairs and a table.

Posted by Charles Stallions Real Estate Services, Buyers Agent 800-309-3414 Pace and Gulf Breeze,Fl. (Charles Stallions Real Estate Services Inc) over 9 years ago

Carol, It is strange how sellers really don't get it that the home has to be empty and clean. I had a seller that had a 5000 square foot home and even before we had an offer I was pushing him to start packing. Once we had an offer I was really pushing him. I knew it would take a lot of work to get everything out but he was so slow. A week before closing I was really panicking and then the day of closing there was no way he could be out in the next week. I was there packing with them for days to get it done. We ended up closing against my advise), but he took another three weeks to get out. I was really nervous! Never again. Luckily the home was being purchased for an investment so the buyers weren't at the door with a moving van on closing day. Some people just don't understand no matter how much you explain.


Joyce- Now THAT is a walk through! I like that concept It makes it very clear. All parties are present to view the home and so no misunderstandings. Too bad they stopped that one.

Posted by Jerri McCombs, Broker, Hendersonville NC Relocation (Dogwood Real Estate Services) over 9 years ago