Whether you are working as a listing agent or are representing a buyer, either way, you want the final walkthrough to go well when your goal is to help a client sell or buy a home. This can be an exciting yet stressful time for everyone involved, including you, the sales agent. An offer has been made and accepted, but don't make the mistake of assuming it's going to be all smooth sailing from there because success hinges on how well the house fares in the final real estate walkthrough.
South Carolina law doesn't require a walkthrough. It isn't wise to skip it, though. A walkthrough can occur up to 48 hours before closing, any time, after the home inspection and usually after the seller has vacated the home. It provides the buyer an opportunity to make sure the house is in the same or better condition as when the initial offer was made. It is also a chance to ensure that any repairs, upgrades or changes agreed upon as a result of the home inspection have been implemented.
Walkthrough problems that no real estate agent want to deal with
As a real estate agent, your whole deal can come crashing down if problems arise during the final walkthrough on a home. The following list includes some of the most common issues that have brought more than a few real estate transactions to a screeching halt:
- The seller moved out and left a bunch of stuff behind.
- The seller moved out and took items that were supposed to convey.
- Agreed-upon changes or repairs were not made.
- The utilities have been shut off.
- Property damage occurred when the sellers moved their belongings out.
- Issues have arisen that didn't exist when the offer was made or inspection occurred, such as a burst water pipe or electrical or plumbing problems.
If any of these issues are encountered during a walkthrough, a buyer has several options available, one of which is to walk away from the whole deal.
Walk away, renegotiate or delay closing
A buyer is free to walk away if the seller has not fulfilled the terms of the purchase agreement. If that happens, everyone loses out. The seller still has a house to sell, the buyer has to start a new home search, and you, the agent (no matter which client you represent) lose the deal.
A buyer can renegotiate, perhaps lowering the offer or asking the seller to cover expenses for repairs. Finally, the buyer may insist that terms of agreement be met and refuse to close until proof of fulfillment is demonstrated, which should include written documentation. As listing agent, it's to your benefit to make sure your client has adhered to all terms. As a buyer's rep, it's a good idea to brush up on your own negotiation skill, so you'll be ready to help resolve walkthrough problems without losing the sale.