Closing day is the pinnacle of one of the most stressful events a home buyer can face. For weeks if not months, they’ve negotiated terms, provided documents, submitted to untold financial checks and weathered one surprise after another. As their certified home inspector, you have the power to make the final walk-through a little less painful.
Most transfers of ownership go off without a hitch after the particulars are ironed out and the closing date is secure. However, it pays to be thorough. You know the condition of the property better than anyone else. Here’s how to build a final walk-through checklist that keeps your customers protected after your job is finished.
List Items that Convey with the House
By the time closing rolls around, the buyer should know what conveys and what doesn’t. In most cases, everything that is installed conveys. “Installed” usually means that the item is hardwired, plumbed in, mounted, fastened or otherwise fixed to the property. Removing it would require some tools and effort, and sellers aren’t supposed to try.
Unfortunately, The Chicago Tribune says that doesn’t stop some folks who remove things such as the dining room chandelier. Remind your customers to do a final check. They’ll be less likely to find an empty space and unhappy surprise on moving day.
Note Repairs That Should be Complete
After the home inspection, buyers and sellers might enter a negotiation stage. Maybe the roof is old or damaged and needs replacement. Perhaps the foundation requires repair.
Agreements are smart, but buyers shouldn’t rely on sellers to keep their word about repairs. Remind them to confirm that all defects you found and reported, and the resulting repairs the seller agreed to make, have been finished before they sign the final documents. When in doubt, ask for receipts.
Point Out Areas Commonly Damaged During a Move
Moving is hard work. Whether the seller handles it on their own or hires out the job, something is likely to get damaged. Point out areas that often suffer damage during a move to help your customers identify them sooner rather than later.
Here are some common ones:
- Loosened staircase railings
- Dinged and dented walls
- Scratched floors
- Broken windows
- Torn vinyl flooring
- Cracked floor tiles
Also note that some older damage, such as holes, might have been hidden behind paintings, furniture, and mirrors. Your customers might have recourse if the previous owner caused extensive damage. If it’s minor, the effort to make a claim would probably be more than it’s worth.
Check the Home’s Fundamental Systems
No home inspection can find every imaginable defect, and some defects may occur after the inspection appointment. For that reason, remind customers to run the systems through their paces one last time.
For that reason, remind customers to run the major systems through their paces one last time before closing.
- Turn the lights on and off, inside and out
- Carry a small electrical gadget such as a phone charger to test outlets
- Switch on the air conditioner and then test the heat
- Look for plumbing leaks under the cabinets
- Flush toilets
- Turn the range burners on and off
The Case of the Missing Landscaping
Imagine buying a home with gorgeous roses, then moving in to find that they’ve disappeared. The Balance says that if it’s installed, it’s a fixture. Installation doesn’t always require a nail or glue.
Few things are more installed than a plant that’s taken roots. Unfortunately, that doesn’t prevent some sellers from stripping the gardens and leaving them bare.
If there’s a beloved plant that the seller wants to keep, your customers could ask the seller to only take a cutting or uproot the plant and replace the plant. Either option is better than a vacancy in the garden.
Abandoned Items in the Attic
Some buyers find treasure left in the attic, but some find the previous owner’s junk. Don’t let that happen to your customers. Remind them to check closets, attics and kitchen drawers. The garage and other storage areas might also contain abandoned boxes, bags and perhaps even an old Christmas tree.
According to Unpakt, here are some of the most common things people leave behind when they move:
- Prescription medication (Poison control should be alerted)
- Cooking and eating utensils
- Phone and laptop chargers
- Clothing (They could earn a tax credit for donating to charity)
- Pets (Astonishingly, this is not uncommon)
- Money (Score!)
Promove adds books, jewelry, plants and unfortunately, trash to the list.
Remind them to check closets, attics, the garage and other storage areas. According to several real estate agents at Realtor.com®, the previous owner has no legal claim to abandoned items after closing. That doesn’t mean castoff items have any value. In some cases, disposal poses a hardship on the new owner.
Most home sales go fairly smoothly once the buyer and seller are in the home stretch, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing left to worry about. Especially if it’s a short sale, sellers might not only neglect the house, but cause intentional damage.
As the home inspector, you’re uniquely positioned to offer customers a bit of good advice. Prepare a general walk-through checklist and mention special items of interest. That’s one more way to offer excellent customer service.
Are you ready to take the leap into the not-so-dull world of home inspecting? Spring is one of the best times of year to get started, and ICA School has the coursework you need. Enroll now and earn your certification in as little as a few weeks.