It’s been months preparing, marketing, negotiating the Inland Empire or High Desert estate sale, and you are just about to celebrate, but, the last step is the buyer’s final walkthrough. After all the physical and emotional hard work, the estate sale comes down to one more potentially nail-biting moment when the buyer visits the home to have that last look before completing the transaction.
Typically, the last time that the buyer viewed the inside of the home was during the inspection. They’ve probably driven by numerous times, dreaming of living there and excited about how they will make the house, their home. When they met with their agent and the home inspector, they were in the honeymoon stage of their purchase. During the 2-3 hour inspection, most buyers measure rooms and talk about placement of furniture; they may consider paint colors and window treatments. They are mentally moving in.
At the end of the inspection, the inspector will go over things that were noted as defective, or at the end of the usable life span, as well as, items that are in good shape and interesting. A few days after the inspection, experience shows the buyer’s agent will prepare and submit to the seller’s agent a Request for Repair based on the inspection report. This document frequently has a list of items that need to be addressed and has a list of actual repairs that the buyer would like the seller to pay for. The result is that the estate seller is back into negotiations with the buyer.
When the Inland Empire or High Desert estate seller has a guide by their side, like me, experience shows that shortly thereafter an agreement has been negotiated that is a win-win for both buyer and the seller. Most of the time my recommendation is to determine the approximate cost of the repairs that the seller is considering completing. Then, with the seller’s permission, I draft a Seller Response to Buyer Request for Repair offering a closing cost credit in lieu of repairs; the closing cost credit will be paid from the net proceeds at time of closing. Experience shows this is a much better option because it removes any liability for the Inland Empire or High Desert estate seller regarding repairs, and it is simply easier because the seller does not have to hire a handyman or contractor(s), and then make sure any repairs were completed plus pay for the repairs during the transaction.
Here comes the tricky part…when the seller has agreed to actual repairs at the buyer’s final walkthrough they will be inspecting the repairs. The buyer and their agent will be walking through the home, reviewing the agreed upon repairs. If anything isn’t done to their liking, they will expect it to be corrected. This can be frustrating, and time-consuming for the seller because they thought they were all done.
Additionally, your buyer is walking through the home and it’s a few days until the actual completion of the transaction. If the home had furnishings in it when the buyer first viewed it, and because we are only days from the close of escrow, those furnishings have most likely been removed. Some issues that can arise are:
When furniture and rugs are removed if the flooring under them has damage, be prepared for some type of a concession. The problem is when the buyer is obtaining a loan, the lender isn’t going to approve an additional financial gift to the buyer without potentially redrafting the loan documentation. Obviously, this is a tricky situation that will need to be handled quickly and professionally to keep the transaction moving to the finish line.
Today’s flat screen televisions are frequently bolted into the walls with brackets. When this is the case, the seller should not simply take everything off the wall leaving large holes. A better solution is to offer to leave the buyer the mechanism that holds the t.v. to the wall. Experience shows buyer’s will agree and be happy to have the t.v. wall mount in place, and the seller will be happy to not have to hire a contractor or handyman to fill the holes and paint.
Sometimes when artwork is removed, and it has been in place for a period of time, it not only leaves nail holes in the walls, but the paint can actually be discolored. When this is discovered, the seller should discuss a plan for “spackle and paint management” with their real estate advisor. Typically, spot painting never matches evenly to the wall color and can even make a situation worse. Having a guide by your side that can help you handle the problem quickly is critical. I have painters on standby, and a few phone calls later plus a few hundred dollars, the problem is solved.
Overlooked Personal Property
The patio set, a file cabinet that has always been in the garage, old paint (now referred to as hazardous waste), gardening equipment in the shed; these items can easily be overlooked when removing the personal property. Step one is to, once again, ask your real estate advisor to see if the buyer would like the items. If the new owners would rather not have the items, the safe thing is to have them removed before the buyer’s final walkthrough.
To revisit the personal property, when the furniture and boxed items are being removed from the home, there’s always the possibility of some damage occurring. There can be nicks or scratches in the flooring, a gauge in the drywall or even damage to the landscaping. Once everything has been removed from the home, the seller should complete a thorough walk-through of their own or have a trusted person, like me, check for any damage. Damaged items can be quickly fixed because I have a handyman ready to move my client’s needs to the top of their list. We press “the easy button”, and handle whatever needs corrected to avoid any issues with the buyer days before close of escrow.
The last thing the buyer wants to be reminded of is garbage. You’ve just been through “moving” when you’ve handled all the personal property, and you know it’s a lot of work. Buyers are just starting the moving part and have enough to deal with including coordinating the moving truck and movers, packing all their personal property, getting utilities turned on, dealing with the cable company and all that goes along with setting up a new home. Full trash cans or even worse a pile of trash in the driveway is not going to go over well. As the San seller who is so close to being relieved of the responsibility of selling the home, take those final steps to keep the buyer happy about their purchase. It’s important to have the trash cans empty at final walkthrough.
Buyers want a move-in ready home. They want it to be clean enough that they can bring in their things and start living. What that means to most buyers is that the floors should be swept or vacuumed, the countertops should be wiped down and the toilets should be clean. Prior to putting the home on the market, we had it professionally cleaned so it isn’t that dirty. It’s usually been a month or so since the cleaning, and there have been buyers in and out, plus the busy open house. At the end of the transaction, the seller can simply take an hour of their time to go through the home and do the final touches or bring the cleaning crew back in for a quick touchup.
The home inspector most likely went over some of the systems with the buyers. But, that was over 30 days ago and now the buyer has questions about how some of the systems work. Leaving a list of instructions for the alarm system, or the sprinkler system in the yard, or that one light switch that if turned off keeps the furnace from working (so don’t turn it off), is a thoughtful gift to the new homeowner. This will also keep the number of post-closing calls to a minimum.
The walkthrough is the last impression that the buyers have of their future home before they sign the pages and pages of their loan documents. It’s an important milestone in the transaction, because if the seller agreed upon repairs are not completed as expected, or if the home shows a lot different than when the buyer first viewed and fell in love, the closing could be delayed. By simply anticipating any issues, and addressing them quickly, we “row away from the rocks”, and move smoothly through the remainder of the selling process.