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Nancy Reynolds - Rainmaker Real Estate - The Most Referred Name in Silicon Valley Real Estate

So you’re about to close on your dream property. After a rigorous real estate search and offer process, your offer has been accepted! An accepted bid is especially rewarding in Silicon Valley, which is once again among the hottest housing markets in California. To close out the home buying process, all you need to do is sign on the dotted line. Right?

In fact, no. Before you sign and close, you will get the chance to conduct a “final walkthrough.” The final walkthrough is your chance to verify that every detail of the home meets your expectations.

Many buyers in your shoes give in to the temptation to expedite the process, which often leads to conducting a less-than-thorough final walkthrough. But I always advise my buyers to take extra care at this final step: it is your last chance to ensure that you will get the best value for your investment.

What can buyers demand at the final walkthrough? More than you think. Most buyers look primarily for new cosmetic defects and the immediately apparent issues you may have glossed over on your previous viewings. But for the clever buyer, this is not a good strategy. If you send a “no items note” before closing escrow, it will be significantly more difficult (if not impossible) to get the seller to cooperate with essential corrections after closing.

With a bit of preparation and a competent real estate agent, however, you can get the right details over the line before you sign off. If you follow this comprehensive final buyer checklist, you can be confident in your strategy for getting the home you deserve—and avoiding nasty surprises after you get the keys.

Before the Walkthrough

  • Preparing for the walkthrough means you will be ready and able to pick up on minute details and areas that are particularly important to you. Before you arrive for the final walkthrough, make sure to:
  • Bring a copy of the home inspection report.
  • Identify details that are especially important for you as the new owner.
  • Familiarize yourself with the seller’s property disclosures.
  • Prepare a game plan for which components to check in each space.

Checking the Interior

You must check all of the fixtures and fundamentals inside your new property. A faulty light switch may look like a minor issue today but can belie electrical failings that will impact your overall property value in the long run. Make sure to consider all of the following details before you leave your final walkthrough:

  • Check all the lights and ceiling fans.
  • Flush every toilet.
  • Turn on every faucet to check the water pressure and hot water in every fixture, including sinks, tubs, and showers.
  • Turn on the exhaust fans in the kitchen, laundry, and bathrooms.
  • Turn on every stove burner, as well as every light on the stove/oven.
  • Turn on the oven. (Pro tip: I like to test the broiler because that heats almost immediately.)
  • Test the microwave for hygiene and functionality.
  • Turn on the garbage disposal.
  • Turn on the AC & heating, and check every vent.
  • Turn on the whole house fan.
  • Turn on any built-in speakers.
  • Check utility sinks in the laundry room.
  • Check all flooring and walls for noticeable new scratches or dents.

Checking the Exterior

It is easy to forget the exterior, but outdoor amenities have significant potential for failure through wear and tear. Check all of the functional features that apply to your new property:

  • Open and close the garage door with both the built-in control function and any remote devices.
  • Turn on the sprinklers.
  • Turn on the pool heater and spa (if possible, ask the seller to turn it on earlier in the day, so it has had time to heat before you arrive).
  • Check additional appliances and plumbing, including:
  • Pool area toilets and showers.
  • Outdoor kitchens.
  • Guesthouse or apartment kitchens and baths.
  • Utility sinks in garages.
  • Check for vegetation that may have died or been removed.

What Not to Worry About

The following items are considered personal property and would not be warranted as part of the sale, even if they are included. You cannot require maintenance on:

  • TVs
  • Laundry machines
  • Free-standing microwaves
  • Refrigerators
  • Lightbulbs
  • Bidets
  • Play structures
  • Furniture
  • Art

Ultimately, only you and your real estate agent know exactly what needs to be checked for your final walkthrough. But if you plan ahead and consult with your agent, you are sure to put yourself in a strong position when you come into property ownership. Closing costs and the home buying process are challenging enough in the Bay Area real estate market, which contains 2022’s priciest zip codes. Don’t let this opportunity to make the most of your investment slip through your fingers.

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You’ve got questions and we can’t wait to answer them.

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