Updated: Sep 12
Disclosure On Changing Contractual Language Over Time & the Need to Refer to Your Contract Primarily
The language below is accurate as of the date of this publication, but be sure to check your contract to ensure that the language hasn't changed and that no provisions are changed or crossed out on your contract.
Walk Through Inspection Basics
A walk through inspection makes sure that (if applicable) all repairs/modifications are completed appropriately, all personal property not conveying with the home is out (unless a seller possession agreement is in place or other arrangements have been made), all personal property & fixtures conveying is present, and everything else is in order as it was during the inspection time, or better.
Walk Through Form
There is a walk through report for buyers to optionally fill out. When this form is filled out, sometimes, but not always, it will be sent to the listing agent for seller signatures. Sellers don't need to sign unless the buyers are asking for anything to be done or where the buyer's agent is specifically requesting it, in which case we can discuss prior.
Walk Through Inspection Details for Buyers
As stated in my Buyer Preparing for Closing article:
"I will be bringing a walkthrough report for you to fill out. Please note section A of the walk through which states, "The Buyer has this day inspected the... Property & acknowledges that Buyer has not relied on any statements or representations to the conditions of the Property by the Seller or the Listing Firm or the Selling Firm (me) in reference to this walk-through inspection which are not expressed." With that being said, if a non-borrower is there helping you inspect, especially if they are checking on things while you're not in the same room, one option is to simply not sign the form. That said, in certain cases where we are making walk-through requests, that can make things tricky, i.e. bank repos if the bank wants a walk-through form prior to proceeding with any repairs. It's a good idea to be properly clothed in the event that you would like to check areas where you might get dirty & you wish to see for yourself (i.e. a crawlspace where thick & tear-resistant clothing, knee pads, elbow pads, boots, & a hard hat are ideal).
I will have digital copies of the consummated Inspection Agreement with the Seller on Repairs (if applicable), home inspection (if applicable), any addendums that impact the house materially, & ratified purchase agreement. If you want paper copies, you can either print them yourself or ask me to.
It's best to start with the HVAC test & dishwasher tests since those tend to take the longest. If testing HVAC & shifting from cool to heat w a heat pump, (unlike gas where it's more flexible), turn it off for 10 minutes first. Also, if it's not been 65 degrees or more for at least 24 hrs, some inspectors advise against testing the AC, unless it's a unit with a crankcase or sump heater. Likewise, some inspectors advise against testing heat pumps in hot weather. It's best to see what the weather was when your inspection occurred and see if your inspector tested them.
While most buyers don't get their inspector back for a reinspection, some prefer it. If an inspection was performed by your inspector of choice, you may want to get them back to the home at the time of the walk-through inspection if substantive repairs are done to the property and no pictures of those repairs are provided, especially if the seller did those repairs DIY. While a minority of inspectors don't charge, costs are typically between $75-$200 for a reinspection of PICRA items. Some buyers like to take family photos in front of the house at the walk-through inspection. If you would like to, please let me know in advance so that I can get a sold sign that you can hold if desired. In the event that you'd like me to take aerials, please let me know at least 4 days in advance for time for permission from the owner and manual FAA authorization, if required.
In the event that you arrive at the walk through before me, please don't explore without me."
Walk Through Inspection Details for Sellers
It's not unusual for there to be walk through repair requests, personal property removal requests, or otherwise. If a repair job was shoddy, that can be called out in a walk through inspection. If it isn't called out then, there are still some cases where the seller or the company that performed the job may be held liable after closing, so be sure to inspect any work performed. Also, be sure to ensure that you have abided by the contract in terms such as who is responsible for utilities, personal property to convey, fixtures to convey whether they are explicitly listed in the contract or not, personal property to be removed, the definition of real estate (i.e. including fixtures & annual plants like grass & annual bushes/trees), etc.
Importance of Buyer Flexibility on Closing Associated With Walk Through Inspection
The number one way that a buyer can be prepared to use a walk through inspection to their advantage if the seller fails to meet their contractual obligations is if the buyer is flexible on their closing date. If the buyer isn't, they can be put in a difficult position by the seller and close under duress prior to the seller fulfilling their obligations of the contract. As a seller, I advise consulting an attorney prior to wanting to take advantage of a buyer who is in a difficult position and closes under duress with the seller failing to meet their contractual obligations. Also, consider the ethical implications of doing so, no matter how much you feel that the buyer "deserves it".
Walk Through Inspection Timing
Buyers usually perform a walkthrough inspection 12 hrs to 5 days before closing on a vacant home or 12 hrs to 48 hrs ahead on an occupied home if the seller is vacating immediately prior.
Related: When to Perform a Walk Through
Contract Differences Introduction
Different cities/counties use different contracts typically, while there are sometimes exceptions. Territory in SE VA where REIN is the dominant MLS typically has REIN offers, while territory where REIN isn't dominant typically has VAR contracts. Typical pertinent language concerning the condition of the property that should be present at walk-through &/or possession &/or closing (if you're a seller, it's highly recommended that these are present at walk-through so that a 2nd walkthrough isn't needed, & in some cases, you'd be in breach of contract to not have these at walkthrough) depending on contractual circumstances in SE VA includes the below as of the date of this publication, but be sure to check your contract to ensure that the language hasn't changed and that no provisions are changed or crossed out on your contract.
Standard REIN Contract Provisions
"Seller shall deliver the property at settlement, or as otherwise provided, in substantially the same condition as of the date of this agreement, and except as provided in paragraph 15, free of personal property, debris, and trash. Seller assumes, until settlement, all risks of loss or damage to the property by fire, windstorm, casualty, or other hazards."
Section 13 D:
"all appliances, heating and cooling equipment, plumbing and electrical systems, and all other equipment" are in working order at time of settlement or possession, whichever occurs first. Subject to the cap, seller shall repair all non-working walk through items at seller's expense unless waived."
Standard VAR Contract Provisions
"Seller agrees to deliver the Property in broom-clean condition and to exercise reasonable and ordinary care in the maintenance and upkeep of the Property between the date this Contract is executed by Seller and the time of settlement or Purchaser’s occupancy, whichever occurs first."
"If Purchaser’s obligations under this Contract are not contingent on a professional inspection of the Property, then Seller warrants that all appliances, heating and cooling equipment, plumbing, including septic system, and electric systems will be in working condition at the time of settlement or of Purchaser’s occupancy, whichever occurs first"
The responsible party for utilities is typically, but not always, the seller. The default contractual language for :
REIN standard purchase agreements - is that the buyer or seller will provide utilities (only 1 of which is checked) in section 13.
VAR Contract of Purchase - is that the seller will provide utilities in section 16.