You're almost to the finish line. You've found the home of your dreams, secured financing, and your offer has been accepted. You've also likely ordered a home inspection designed to uncover any hidden problems with the property in terms of structural, electrical, or plumbing systems that may harbor undetected flaws.
Once the home inspection has been completed, you can ask the seller to address any problems that turned up. Any repairs or replacements that the seller has agreed to handle should be completed by the time you do your all-important final walk-through of the property.
What is the final walk-through? It's your last chance to identify any problems with your new home before you move into it. The walk-through generally takes place a couple of hours before the closing – once the seller has moved his or her belongings out of the house. Here's a checklist of items to look over on your final walk-through:
- Electrical fixtures. Turn switches on and off to make sure everything is functioning properly.
- Plumbing. All the faucets in the kitchen, bathroom, and the exterior of the house should be turned on to make sure they are connected and there is decent water pressure. Flush the toilets to make sure they are draining properly.
- Exhaust. Test fans in the kitchen, bathrooms, and laundry room to make sure they are functional.
- Windows and doors. Do they close properly? Are they latching correctly? Do all of the locks work?
- Appliances. Run a check of the stove, oven, dishwasher, garbage disposal, trash compactor, refrigerator and freezer, washer and dryer, and any other appliances that the previous owner left behind.
- Environmental controls. Are the heating and air conditioning working properly? Check the furnace and make sure the water heater is providing adequately hot water.
- Safety. Are the smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors plugged in or are their batteries charged?
- Damage. Is there any evidence of disrepair, including leaks and water damage, that wasn't noted in your inspection report? Be especially vigilant to make sure that floors, walls, and door frames haven't been damaged during the removal of furnishings. Examine both the interior and exterior of the home for anything that needs to be repaired.
- Cosmetics. Make sure you haven't been left with any trash or belongings that the previous owner neglected to remove. Verify the presence of all items (appliances, window treatments, etc.) that were supposed to be part of the deal
- Keys. Make certain you have keys to all doors, outbuildings, and mailboxes as well as the garage door opener.
- Documents. Ask that the seller leave behind manuals for any household systems or appliances that will remain with the house. If there are home blueprints, records of modifications or renovations to the house, or other information that would be useful to have when you move in, make sure that you ask for them.
If you're lucky and the previous owner has been diligent, the home should be clean and you should be able to move right in with a minimum of extra work. Now it's time to look around and start deciding where to put your own belongings. You're home!