A critical step in the home buying process is the final walkthrough of the house, before it officially and legally becomes yours. The purpose of a final walkthrough is to be sure the home is in the same or better condition than it was when you signed a contract. It is best to do the final walkthrough when the home is vacant and as close to the closing date as possible. If the previous owners still have belongings in the house and you do the walkthrough before they remove them, there is a possibility that some damage may occur when they are moving everything out.

Negotiated Repairs Are Completed

One of the most important reasons to do a final walkthrough is to ensure the repairs you negotiated during the inspection period have been completed. Ask the owners to leave the receipts and any warranties for these repairs. Have your agent help you look to be sure you see that the work has been done. Test the system or appliance, if applicable.

No New Defects or Issues

Walk through the house to make sure no new defects or issues are present. The house should be in the same or better condition than when you signed a contract to purchase it. If you and your buyer's agent see anything new or damaged, be sure to let your attorney or the listing agent know immediately. Sometimes there is damage to walls and floors when the sellers are moving out their furniture. Melissa Holtje, from Homelight.com states, "A good walkthrough should always involve more than simply walking through. You'll want to be intentional and thorough in your examination, which means you need to come prepared, both mentally and physically." Homelight.com offers a great guide on what buyers should look for in the final walkthrough.

Everything is Functioning Properly

When performing your final walkthrough, be sure to make sure every system and appliance is working properly. Start at the top of the home and work down. Look at the roof from the street level to be sure there are no missing shingles or hanging gutters, for example. Open and close all the windows and doors. Check the plumbing system by flushing all toilets, turning on and off all faucets and checking under cabinets for leaks. Be sure you have hot water. Inspect the electricity by turning on and off all lights and ceiling fans. Test the appliances. Be sure the refrigerator and freezer are working. Run the washing machine and dishwasher for a cycle. Be sure the dryer works and heats up after it runs for a few minutes. Make sure the oven gets hot and the range burners all light. Check the HVAC system to make sure the furnace and air conditioner work. However, many HVAC professionals do not recommend turning on an air conditioner if the outside temperature is below 60 or 65 degrees. Redfin provides The Ultimate Final Walk-Through Checklist Before Closing on a Home.

All Fixtures Are Present

Finally, be sure all fixtures that are supposed to remain with the home are present. Fixtures include anything that is built-in or attached. Some examples are blinds, light fixtures and ceiling fans. If there was any furniture that you negotiated to stay with the home, make sure it is there as well.

Successful walkthroughs are the goal for all buyers. It is important for buyers to protect their new home values and be sure the homes are worth the price they paid without any new major defects.