The contract for purchasing your home in the Austin, Texas area is coming to a close. You and the seller are anticipating and getting ready for the closing. The buyer’s lender has prepared the final loan documents, and has sent them to the Title Company, which completes the closing papers and prepares the settlement statement (HUD-1) for review. The lender, the seller and buyer, and their agents carefully check this financial document for any mistakes and for items in the contract and amendments that may have been omitted.
What else is there to do, other than be there to close? Every buyer should do a walk-through of the home just prior to closing.
Why is the timing of a walk-through important? The buyer will own (and have the right to possess, unless there is a lease-back to the seller) the property in its current condition when the transaction funds. If possible, do this early on the day of closing, or no earlier than the day before closing.
So why “go for a walk-through?” The walk-through has several aims:
- To make sure that the seller actually has finished moving out prior to closing. I did a walk-through with a buyer client on the morning of a closing. The seller still had a lot of things in the house and in the garage. After a couple of phone calls, we were assured that the seller was on his way and that the house would be empty by the time of closing.
- To confirm that all repairs agreed to by the seller as part of the contract have been completed. The seller should provide receipts to the buyer either before or at the closing, but it is best that the buyer check the repairs personally.
- To insure that items to remain in the house as part of the sale are still in the house. Look for any fixtures, improvements and accessories (things attached to the property) that have not been excluded by the seller in the contract. In a recent sale, the seller assumed that drapes were automatically excluded since they were not attached to the house—only to the rod. The Texas residential sales contract says that “curtains and rods, blinds, window shades, draperies and rods” are among the things included in the sale … unless they are specifically excluded by the seller. After some negotiation, the buyer agreed that the seller could take the drapes, but must leave the rods. The transfer of any non-realty items (appliances, furniture and other items either purchased from the seller or given to the buyer by the seller) should be documented in the contract to protect both sides of the transaction.
- To assure the buyer that the property has been left in proper physical condition, i.e., that it has not been damaged by the seller after the contract was agreed to and during the move-out process.
- To check for other things that may be part of the contract, such as leaving the house “broom clean” and having the yard mowed prior to closing. Some sellers go the extra mile. Others just move out and leave the buyer having to do the clean-up and yard work while moving in!
So, when your Realtor® says to you, “Let’s go for a walk-through!” make time in your schedule and go! You may not get much exercise, but this is important.