The final step in the home buying process – Four critical steps not to be overlooked

It seems like a lifetime ago when you first started looking at the real estate websites, saying to yourself, “I want to buy my own home. There is no point in paying my landlord’s mortgage. I want one of my own!”

Months of looking online passed before you took the advice you found to get pre-qualified for a home loan, jumping through one burning hoop of fire after another until finally you were approved. Then came the daunting task of finding the right home in the right neighborhood.

You may have worked with several REALTORS® until you found the one who “gets you” and truly has your best interests at heart. But you still had a long way to go in not only finding the right home at a price in your own mind, but you had to compete with the cash investors and other buyers until finally your offer was accepted and you opened escrow.

Then came all the inspections, the worrying about the appraisal, and all of the other details that unfolded over the last four to six weeks, and now, finally, you are mere days from getting the keys and moving in. You feel it, life is about to change, all for the good. But wait…

The final walk-through

The final walk-through is supposed to be accomplished within the last few days before escrow closes and ownership changes hands. Ideally, the home is empty and is in the exact condition that you’ll receive the home once escrow does formally close. Ideally again, everything that was negotiated has been taken care of and if you are expecting a move-in-ready home then that’s what you found.

The first step is not to be so excited that you’re ready to close escrow and finally become a homeowner that you rush the process and take it for granted. This is the time to make sure that all of your negotiated repairs were done, and done correctly. It’s a time to see the house as an empty structure and not the home of the seller. The final walkthrough is a great time to get a clear idea of what projects, if any, you want to take on first and even estimate materials that you’ll be needing.

The final walk-through is a critical step in the buying process and should not be taken lightly. It is not just another check on a list of “To Do’s” that you must accomplish in the home buying process. Think it through and take it seriously. Consider these simple tips:

1. Don’t wait until the last day

The standard language in a California Association of REALTORS® purchase contract calls for the buyer to be able to conduct the final walk-through within the last five days before the scheduled closing of escrow. With your REALTOR®, make the necessary arrangements early. Figure out when the seller is planning on vacating the property and inspect it the following day, if at all possible.

If you wait until the last minute then if there are issues you won’t have time to have them corrected and once escrow closes any issue is your issue and no longer the sellers, short of litigation, and no one wants that.

It’s common, if there is adequate time, for a second walk-through to happen. The first one will identify any potential problems and the second to double check that everything has been done. This is not the time to consider negotiating with dollars – all of the loan documentation and transfer paperwork is based on the agreed upon price – unless you want to go through the expense and time of a new escrow period, now is the time for solutions.

2. Check all the power outlets

One common issue that arises is electrical outlets don’t all work. It is very uncommon for every one to be checked, even in the most thorough of home inspections. Often there is large furniture blocking several outlets.

Most phone chargers have some sort of small LED light that illuminates when it’s in a hot socket. Try bringing your phone charger or any other small electrical item that will fit in your pocket and illuminate when receiving a charge. This makes the process very simple.

3. Junk is junk

It’s one thing to go through your own possessions and eliminate the junk from what you want to keep. If you are coming from a rental where your landlord is holding a deposit, I can pretty much guarantee that you’ve gotten rid of your junk.

While conducting your final walk-through be on the lookout for the seller’s discarded junk. After they get their money at the close of escrow, their junk is now your junk. By junk I am not just referring to an old chair left on the patio. Look in all of the cabinets in the garage. What about those 42 partially filled cans of paint the owner thought for sure you would want to keep in case you have to match any of the paint in the home? Realize they require special provisions for disposing of. The same goes for old electronics.

You want to make certain you have the time for the seller to get rid of, if they left anything behind that was not negotiated for.

4. Surprise

Remember you are not looking at the home you purchase; you are looking at an empty house you want to make your home. There is a difference.

Your journey to owning your own home has been a long one. You’ve been up and you’ve been down and you are taking the very last step of a journey that may have taken a year or more. Consider this important step in advance. Prepare for it with a checklist of what you want to accomplish and keep focused on what it’s all about and you’ll be fine. Congratulations on getting this far.

Call us today and get the information you need to make the right decision. The info is free, call now! (951) 296-8887.

Questions regarding available inventory and/or other real estate matters please contact me, [email protected] Mike Mason, Broker/Owner of MASON Real Estate Cal. BRE: 01483044, Board of Director of your Southwest Riverside County Association of Realtors® (SRCAR), Traveling State Director, California Association of Realtors® (C.A.R.).

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