Thursday, June 21, 2007

query: real estate final walk-thru property altered

I'll bet THAT was disappointing.

Thanks for the query because you raise a perfect case demonstrating why a final walk-thru prior to closing is so very important.

Buying a piece of real estate is like a marriage. It's really better to resolve issues before you say "I do." Do all your homework BEFORE you close.

Let's say you have the horrible experience of finding major alterations in a final walk-thru. Just imagine how much more horrible that situation would have been if you closed and THEN found major alterations. Once you close, you lose your leverage with the seller. If you find big problems in the final walk-thru, you can still negotiate resolution before the seller walks away with the proceeds.

So, let's talk about a final walk-thru. We need to put it into perspective. You must be realistic and bear in mind that the final walk-thru is not your time to do a home inspection. A home inspection is done early in the transaction, not at the last minute. If you neglected to have the home thoroughly vetted and at the last minute start lookly more closely than you have before, I just don't think that's fair. In my mind, the purpose of the final walk-thru is to make certain that the seller hasn't altered the house, hasn't removed any features or chattels that were to remain, and that the house hasn't suffered any damage since your last inspection.

If you find that the seller has made alterations or removed items that you expected would remain or the house has suffered some kind of damage, you must negotiate with the seller for resolution before you close. If the matter cannot be resolved prior to closing, you may opt to get a contractor's bid for repair or replacement and have the seller place funds in an escrow pending resolution.

Keep in mind the mortgage lender will want to have a say in any monetary negotiations between buyer and seller. Most mortgage loan guidelines prohibit cash credits from seller to buyer.

From a homebuyer's perspective, it's just so important to buy title insurance, buy a survey, buy a home inspection, and do a final walk-thru. Don't skip any step. Be careful. Work with reputable companies and be well.

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