Buying a home in Santa Cruz is an exciting and significant milestone in anyone’s life. As the closing day approaches, you can’t help but feel the anticipation of finally getting the keys to your new home. However, before you sign the paperwork and make it officially yours, there’s one crucial step that you shouldn’t overlook—the final walkthrough. This is your last chance to ensure that everything is in place and in the the same condition as it was when you made your offer, before you take ownership of your dream home in Santa Cruz. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll provide you with a detailed checklist to help you navigate through the final walkthrough process smoothly and ensure that you don’t have any surprises when the sale actually closes.
It’s important to understand that the final walk-through is not a contingency of the sale – unless the house has burned down or suffered some kind of catastrophe, you won’t have cause to back out of the transaction at this point. It will however give you a chance to make sure that the seller is notified before closing (when it really will be too late) if there are any items that you as the buyer feel need to be addressed before the sale closes.
Before You Begin: Essential Tools for a Successful Final Walkthrough
Before diving into the checklist, it’s essential to gather a few tools that will assist you during the final walkthrough. These tools will help you document any concerns or issues you come across and ensure that you don’t miss any crucial details. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Phone/camera: Use your phone to capture photos of anything that concerns you or that you want to take note of during the walkthrough.
- Phone charger: Besides keeping your phone alive, you can use the charger to test the electrical outlets around the house.
- Notepad and pen: Always handy for jotting down notes, questions, or any important information during the walkthrough.
- Home inspection report: Bring along the home inspection report to review any issues flagged by the inspector and verify if the seller has completed the negotiated repairs.
- Home purchase agreement: This legally binding contract outlines the terms agreed upon by both parties and serves as a reference during the final walkthrough.
With these tools in hand, you’re ready to embark on your final walkthrough journey and ensure that your new Santa Cruz home meets your expectations.
Exterior Walkthrough: Assessing the Curb Appeal and Structural Integrity
The first part of the final walkthrough focuses on the exterior of the property. It’s essential to evaluate the curb appeal and the overall structural integrity of the house. Here are the key aspects to consider:
Landscaping and Exterior Condition
As you approach your new Santa Cruz home, take a moment to evaluate the landscaping and the general condition of the exterior. Look for any signs of neglect or damage, such as overgrown bushes, dead plants, or cracked pathways. Pay close attention to:
- The condition of the lawn, including any bare patches or signs of pest infestation.
- The state of trees and shrubs, ensuring they are healthy and well-maintained.
- The condition of the driveway and pathways, checking for any cracks or damage.
- The state of the exterior walls, looking for any signs of peeling paint, cracks, or water damage.
If you notice any issues, make a note and discuss them with your real estate agent or the seller.
Roof and Gutters
A thorough inspection of the roof and gutters is crucial to ensure that there are no leaks or structural problems. Look for the following:
- Missing or damaged shingles.
- Signs of sagging or unevenness in the roof.
- Cracked or clogged gutters.
- Water stains or discoloration on the ceiling or walls, indicating possible leaks.
If you observe any roof or gutter issues, document them and raise them with the seller or your real estate agent for further action.
Doors, Windows, and Exterior Features
Check that all doors and windows are in good working order, open and close smoothly, and lock securely. Inspect the condition of the following:
- Door frames and thresholds for any signs of damage or rot.
- Window frames and screens for cracks, chips, or other damage.
- Exterior lights and fixtures, ensuring they are functional and in good condition.
- Fences, gates, and other outdoor structures for stability and any necessary repairs.
Make a note of any issues you come across and discuss them during the final walkthrough.
Interior Walkthrough: Ensuring a Perfectly Livable Home
Now that you’ve assessed the exterior of the property, it’s time to move inside and thoroughly inspect the interior of your new Santa Cruz home. The following checklist will guide you through each room and help you ensure that everything is in order:
General Condition and Cleanliness
Start by evaluating the general condition and cleanliness of each room. Look out for any signs of damage, wear and tear, or inadequate cleaning that you are sure weren’t there the day your offer was accepted. Pay attention to:
- Walls, ceilings, and floors for cracks, stains, or other issues.
- Baseboards and moldings for any damage or missing sections.
- Carpets, rugs, or flooring for stains or tears.
- Paint or wallpaper for peeling or fading.
- Overall cleanliness, including dust, dirt, and any lingering odors.
Take note of any areas that require attention and discuss them with the seller or your real estate agent.
Appliances and Electrical Systems
Ensure that all appliances included in the sale are clean and functioning as they were when your offer was accepted. Test each appliance to verify that they are in good working order. Additionally, check the electrical systems for any issues:
- Turn on and off all light switches and ceiling fans.
- Plug your phone charger into electrical outlets to ensure they are functional.
- Test all kitchen appliances, including the stove, oven, refrigerator, dishwasher, and microwave.
- Check the HVAC system, both heating and cooling, to ensure they are working satisfactorily.
- Run the garbage disposal and exhaust fans in the kitchen and bathrooms.
If you encounter any malfunctioning appliances or electrical problems, document them for further investigation.
Plumbing Fixtures and Water Systems
Inspect all plumbing fixtures and water systems to ensure they are in good condition and functioning as they were when you went under contract. Check the following:
- Test all faucets and the showerhead to ensure hot and cold water flow properly.
- Examine the toilets for leaks or any signs of damage.
- Inspect the sinks, tubs, and showers for leaks or drainage issues.
- Look for any signs of water damage, such as stains or mold, in the bathrooms and around plumbing fixtures.
If you notice any plumbing-related concerns, make a note of them and address them with the seller or your real estate agent.
Doors, Windows, and Interior Features
Similar to the exterior, it’s vital to check the condition and functionality of doors, windows, and interior features. Ensure that:
- All doors open and close smoothly and lock securely.
- Windows open, close, and lock without any issues.
- Door handles, knobs, and hinges are in good condition.
- Blinds or curtains are in place and functioning properly.
- Any built-in shelving or cabinetry is in good condition.
If you encounter any problems with doors, windows, or interior features, document them for further discussion.
Structural Elements and Safety Measures
Take the time to inspect the structural elements of the house and assess the safety measures in place. Look for the following:
- Staircases and railings, checking for stability and any signs of damage.
- Smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors, ensuring they are in working order.
- Fire extinguishers, verifying they are present and not expired.
- Any visible signs of structural issues, such as cracks in walls or sagging ceilings.
If you identify any structural concerns or safety issues, make sure to address them promptly.
Final Steps: Wrapping Up the Walkthrough
As you near the end of your final walkthrough, there are a few important tasks to complete to ensure a smooth transition into your new Santa Cruz home:
Documenting and Notifying
Throughout the walkthrough, take photos and detailed notes of any issues or concerns you come across. These records will serve as evidence and support your requests for necessary repairs or adjustments if necessary. Notify the seller or your real estate agent about the identified issues and discuss the appropriate course of action.
Ensuring Completion of Agreed Repairs
Refer to the home inspection report and the negotiated repairs outlined in the home purchase agreement. Verify that the seller has completed all agreed-upon repairs and improvements. Request receipts or any other documentation as proof of completion.
Reviewing the Property
Before leaving the property, take a final walk through each room to ensure that all personal belongings, garbage, and debris have been removed. Verify that all fixtures and items included in the sale are still in place, unless otherwise stated in writing. Confirm that the property is in broom clean condition.
The final walkthrough is a critical step in the home buying process, allowing you to ensure that your new Santa Cruz home is in the desired condition before the closing. By following this comprehensive checklist and documenting any concerns, you can address any issues with the seller or your real estate agent and avoid potential problems down the line. Remember, patience is key during the final walkthrough, as it is your last opportunity to thoroughly inspect your dream home before it becomes officially yours. Take the time to review every aspect, and don’t hesitate to ask questions or seek clarification when needed. With a well-executed final walkthrough, you can confidently take the final steps towards homeownership in beautiful Santa Cruz.