Friday, November 9, 2012

Home Buyer Final Walk-through - do NOT skip this prior to closing escrow on your home...

I have blogged in the past about the process and importance of buyer home inspections on a property they are purchasing. Additionally I have blogged about a buyer's request for repairs on the property they are purchasing. I have also blogged about the purpose of doing a "final walk-through" on a house, just before the close of escrow. Today I would like to take a few extra minutes to explain the importance of doing a final walk-through to verify that repairs have been completed and that the house has been maintained by the seller in the same condition in which the buyer first viewed the home, the house was not damaged during the move-out, and no conditions were concealed by the seller's personal belongings.

Not to cause unnecessary alarm home for Sacramento home buyers -- because in the vast majority of transactions, the seller does all agreed upon repairs, and/or keeps the lawn mowed, keeps the house secure so its not vandalized, the house is not damaged at move-out, etc...however every now and then the final walk-through reveals a condition that needs to be corrected. Keep in mind -- a final walk-through is NOT a contingency of the sale. A buyer should not cancel the close of escrow if there is a repair that was missed or the house isn't clean. The buyer's agent needs to document whatever was not done, not maintained, or damaged and alert the listing agent immediately. The seller is contractually obligated to do any repairs that were agreed upon in writing, and the seller needs to maintain the home.

A couple weeks ago, a buyer client and I did a final walk-through for his soon-to-be new Pocket / Greenhaven home. We walked into the master bedroom, and next to a french door to the backyard was a severely deteriorated baseboard. This space had been concealed by a bookshelf. The baseboard (pictured above) was discolored and "spongy." This was a problem. And our closing was supposed to be 3 days later.

I alerted the other listing agent immediately. She had the pest inspector revisit the house the next day (we had already gotten a "Section 1" pest clearance), and it turns out there was substantial dryrot to the baseboard and the subfloor below the carpet. Cost of this additional repair was about $400 -- paid by the seller. Mission accomplished and escrow closed.

The moral of the story? These types of conditions really need to be discovered before the close of escrow. After the close -- the buyer has very little leverage on the seller. If the seller refused to cooperate after closing, the main remedy would be for the buyer to take the seller to small claims court...and then the buyer would have to prove that those conditions existed prior to closing escrow. Not fun!

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