How to Ensure a Breezy Walk-Through Inspection
You’re nearing the final stretch of selling your home solo. It’s been an exciting and demanding journey, you’ve found a buyer, negotiated a price and you’re ready to close. But first, there’s the final walk-through.
As a For Sale By Wwner (FSBO) seller, you’re almost sure to have a final home inspection carried out before closing. Had you gone the traditional route, the buyer’s agent would normally be responsible for the final walk-through with the inspector.
If you’ve completed a FSBO home sale before, you may already know what to expect. If not, we’re here to guide you through the process and offer advice about what to do and what not to do to ensure the closing is smooth sailing.
You will most likely have to do the final home inspection with your home buyer. It can be a nerve-racking experience, but it doesn’t have to be if you know what to expect and how to handle the unexpected.
When to schedule the final home inspection
The best time for a FSBO final property walk-through will depend on a few things, but your goal should be as close to the actual closing as possible.
If the closing is scheduled to take place at 1:00 pm on Monday, try scheduling the final home inspection for 9:00 that morning. If your closing is in the morning, schedule the walk through the afternoon or evening before closing. Touch base with the seller a few days in advance to determine a time that works for both of you.
Seller’s rights at final home inspection
The final home inspection before closing is not an invitation for the buyer to start re-negotiating the sale price. That window was closed once the buyer signed a contract. Their chance of negotiating any further is over.
Caveat emptor (let the buyer beware)
Don’t be surprised if, during the final home inspection, the buyer begins to notice flaws he or she hadn’t seen before and attempts to reopen negotiations. The trouble is, it’s too late for that. Do not feel compelled to discuss the price of repairs or lowering the price of the home. The buyer had plenty of time before today to take care of these issues and request you pay for repairs or lower the home’s price.
At this point, unless the leak or any other problem appeared after the sale was made, you will not be responsible for repairs or compensation. Unless you knew about a problem and kept it secret or otherwise misled the buyer, you are not bound to fix it. It’s the buyer’s issue to deal with.
Don’t entertain any conversation that even hints at a settlement or mediation. No matter how insistent the buyer may be, don’t give in to their demands. This can be tricky, since you don’t want the final inspection to turn ugly. This is a classic example of when to muster your resolve, maintain your composure and deflate the issue quickly. Suggest to your buyer that you discuss the issue with your individual lawyers and get their advice.
Keep in mind that buyers are often particularly stressed by this stage of the process—buying a house is among life’s most stressful events, so there’s no need to poke a stick at that bear. Remind yourself that he or she could have addressed the problem when the offer was on the table, and do whatever you can to avoid an argument without losing your resolve.
Here are some tips to get the FSBO seller through the final home inspection with as little stress as possible.
Remember, the whole purpose of the closing property inspection is to protect the buyer. The buyer wants to make sure you left all items (appliances, window coverings, etc.) that were included in the sale price, and that no items were switched out. He or she also wants to make sure that the property is in the same physical condition as it was the last time he or she viewed the home.
Seller’s checklist for final home inspection before closing
Keep the final walk through with the buyer relaxed and friendly. Be helpful by pointing out things like shut-off valves, warranties and operating literature that accompany items in the house. Speak positively about how much you enjoyed living in the home, and how confident you are that the buyers will enjoy living there too.
When the inspection is wrapped up, ask if the buyer has any questions or concerns that you aren’t aware of. If the answer is yes, don’t react negatively. It’s good to be aware of the buyer’s concerns, and you can alert your attorney (if you have one) to the issue being brought up before or during the closing.
Don’t argue with the buyer or try to “fix” the problem. Ultimately, you’ll risk instigating an argument when the buyer’s attorney will likely explain to him or her why their concern or demand won’t yield positive results. Resist any urge to tell this to the buyer yourself. He or she will accept it from their attorney much more readily that they will from you.
Implementing these pointers can go a long way in creating a smooth walk-through and hand-over.