New House Checklist: 10 Things to Look At Before Closing the Deal

new house checklistYou’ve finally found the perfect home.

At this point, your offer has been countered and then accepted. The home inspection is complete.

You’ve gotten the inspector’s report. You asked the home inspector any questions about the home’s construction or condition. By now the seller has made any requested repairs.

The bank has approved your loan and the closing date is set. All your paperwork is in order and you’ve reserved the movers and the locksmith. You’ve confirmed the date and time of the closing.

What else is there to do?

Your next step is to take a final walk-through of the home with your realtor. Do this at least a week before your closing date, and reserve at least thirty minutes to an hour for the walk-through.

There are several areas to keep in mind, so take this new house checklist to refer to.

Why a New House Checklist?

Sometimes the property’s condition changes between the time of the home inspection and the closing date. You also want to ensure that the seller made any requested repairs.

It’s possible you missed something during the inspection. It’s also possible that something changed since the last time you were there. With so much to keep track of, a new house checklist is a must.

For instance, a strong thunderstorm could have weakened a spot on the roof and caused a leak. The cost of roof repair and water damage restoration would fall to you after you close.

For these reasons, it’s standard to take one more walk-through before closing. A final walk-through helps you verify that the property’s condition is the same as it was during the home inspection. It also verifies that the buyer has adhered to all the requirements of your contract.

In most real estate markets, the buyers and sellers don’t meet in person. If they do, it’s only at the closing to sign papers.

If the seller is willing and available, you can conduct the walk-through with the sellers present. They may be able to provide some history on the home. If the sellers are not present or the home is vacant, it’s even more essential to conduct a final walk-through.

The following 10 steps are your new house checklist.

1. Be Sure You Have Everything You Need

Before you head out, be sure you have a few items with you to aid your observations during the walk-through. One very important item is this new house checklist.

Contract and Notepad

Bring a copy of your contract. You can refer to it as you confirm that the condition of the home matches the terms of the contract.

Bring a notepad to jot down the date and time of your walk-through. Take detailed notes and write down any questions you may have.

You and your real estate agent may find the answers, or your agent can verify the answers by contacting the sellers.

Cell Phone Camera and Charger

Bring a camera, or be sure your cell phone has memory enough to take lots of pictures. These photos will supplement your notes.

For example, if you see repairs that the seller has not completed, make a note and take several photos. If you see any damaged areas that the inspector failed to note, document and photograph those as well. Refer to the inspections summary for a list of needed repairs.

You should also bring a charger with you. You can use it with your phone to check the electrical outlets.

2. Verify the Seller Made Any Required Repairs

Next up on your new house checklist is to verify that the seller completed all repairs listed in the home inspection summary.

More than likely, your realtor has already verified these. However, it’s practical to double-check for yourself during the final walk-through.

Also, check to see if the seller left you the warranties and receipts for the repair work. If something breaks after you move in, you’ll want to be able to contact the company that made the repairs.

3. Check General Sale Items Listed in the Sales Agreement

Third on the new house checklist is your sales agreement. Refer to the sales agreement to verify all the items are present. Check fixtures like ceiling fans and chandeliers that should remain in the home.

Also, check that any unwanted items have been removed by the seller. You may want to schedule your final walk-through ahead of the closing day in case the sellers still have items in the home. They may not be able to remove them before you move in.

Also, check that any debris from repairs or other trash is gone. The property should be clean and free of damage. Contractors or movers hired by the seller can sometimes leave a mess or minor damage to the home.

4. Spend Time in the Bathroom

Take plenty of time inspecting the bathrooms.

Walk through each bathroom and check for water damage and mold. Check for standing water in the shower, sink, and base of the toilet, as these are signs of a leak. A leak can trigger mold almost immediately.

Check that the toilets don’t continue to run after you flush them. Turn on all the faucets including the shower head to verify they work. If the water heater is still on, check that there is hot water.

The faucets should not spray water, and they should turn off completely without dripping. Check the drains as well to be sure they drain quickly. This completes item number four of your new house checklist.

5. Inspect the Kitchen and Laundry Room

Just as you did for the bathrooms, check the kitchen and laundry room for mold and water damage.

The Kitchen

Check under the kitchen sink, at the base of the dishwasher, and around the refrigerator. See if the freezer has ice. If the fridge has the added feature of filtered water, see if that works as it should.

Next, move on to the appliances. Make sure that they all work. Turn each one off and on. This includes the garbage disposal and exhaust fans.

Onto the Laundry Room

Go to the laundry room and check any appliances in there. If there are a washer and dryer, turn them on an off.

If there’s no washer and dryer, check the hookups for any damage. Check the water lines and water heater for leaks.

Double-check the water heater is working properly. If the laundry room has a utility sink, fill it to make sure it drains as it should.

Warranties and Maintenance Records

Even though you’re verifying that the appliances work, you can’t judge how long they will continue to work. Hopefully, you’ll find documentation in the kitchen or laundry room.

If not, ask the owner (if possible) for any warranty manuals or maintenance records for the appliances in the home. That will give you a little more information on the age of those appliances.

Congratulations! You’re now halfway through your new home checklist.

6. Check Window Latches and Door Locks

It takes a bit of time, but check all the door locks and window latches to be sure they work. Otherwise, you may discover after you move in that your home isn’t secure. Also, note if any windows stick or need repair since this is a potential fire hazard.

If the owners stored screens or storm windows, find them and check their condition. Make a note on your notepad if any window or porch screens are missing or torn.

7. Check the Home’s Systems

Number seven on the new house checklist is the home’s various systems. No matter what season, turn on the central heat and be sure it works. Do the same for the air conditioning system.

Next, check that the doorbell works. If there is a security system, check that as well. While you may not have the code to arm and disarm it, you can usually check the door chime or activate the keypad.

Finally, check that the garage door opens and closes correctly. Look around for remote garage door openers. If the home is vacant, the sellers usually leave them for the buyers.

8. Check Electrical Systems

Your new house checklist is almost complete.

Next, check the electrical systems in the home. Turn the lights on and off, and check the circuit breaker to see if it’s clean and working. Inspect the outlets and outlet plate covers for signs of damage.

Pull out your cell and charger. Use them to check all the outlets throughout the house. If more than one is not working, there may be a problem with the home’s wiring.

9. Check the Landscaping Around the Property

Even if landscaping isn’t a primary concern, take a walk around anyway. The landscaping should be the same as it was at the time of the home inspection.

It’s rare, but sellers sometimes dig up and take certain plants with them. This could leave unsightly gaps in the landscaping around the home. If you have a homeowners’ association, you could be required to fill those in or get slapped with HOA fines.

If the property has an irrigation system, turn it on and check that it works. Also, check the sprinklers to be sure each one activates properly. If they don’t, there could be a break in the line underground.

Number nine on the new house checklist is now complete. Only one more to go!

10. Check for Signs of Termites or Other Pests

The last item on the new home checklist is to check for pests.

While the home inspector already checked for signs of pests, it doesn’t hurt to check again. Termites leave behind spongy floors, crumbly wood, and dry rot.

Also, check for droppings that rodents may have left behind. If the home is vacant, mice or rats may be recent squatters on the property.

You Found Some Issues: What’s Next?

Any areas of concern you find during the final walk-through need to be resolved before the closing. This is why a new house checklist is so important.

Also, problems can surface when a house sits vacant for an extended period of time. It’s likely that a problem wasn’t visible during the home inspection but shows up later during the final walk-through.

If completing your new house checklist reveals problems, you now have to decide what to do about it. One thing to remember is that some issues may not be worth raising. If the damage requires only a minor repair, you may want to let it go, especially if you are getting a good price on the home.

But if the problem is serious, you should work with your realtor and contact the mortgage attorney(s). You and the buyer need to work out a new agreement before closing. The two parties should work together amicably to resolve the situation.

The seller can either make the repairs or agree to a credit of some sort for the home. As the buyer, your last resort is refusing to sign at closing. In most cases, though, you can work out an agreement with the seller.

Final Thoughts on Your New House Checklist

We hope this new house checklist proves to be helpful to you during your final walk-through.

If so, please share it with others. Although there’s always some stress involved, buying a new home should be an exciting and happy experience.

Keeping organized with tools like this new house checklist can reduce some of that stress. It will also make the entire home buying process a little easier.

If you’re looking for a home in Fort Worth, Texas, or the surrounding areas, please contact us today.

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