Squash These Issues Before They Derail Your Sale!

The last part of any transaction before closing is the buyer’s final walk-thru. The buyer goes in – usually nervous – and walks out excited to get to the closing table or furious and frustrated. You definitely want the former not the latter. Usually, the last time the buyers were in the house was during their inspection. They expect, and rightly so, to see a house that looks as good as, if not better than, the one they made an offer on. So here are some important steps you can take, before and during the move-out process. They will seriously increase your chances of getting a happy buyer and not one that derails the sale you’ve worked so hard for.

Damage to Floors
The photos and staging were great. But with everything out of the house, the floors reveal cracks, dents or even worse, previously hidden carpet stains. Before going on the market, find and disclose these areas to your agent and then see if the areas in question can be remedied. If not, make it clear that these areas convey as is and/or be prepared to offer an appropriate concession as a remedy.

Wall Damage From Artwork, etc.
Once everything comes down, the walls are often left with nail holes, brackets and possibly discoloration. You’ll want to have a plan to deal with “damage control.” It’s a better to figure this out upfront rather right before closing, when you’re trying to get moved out on time. Also, having expectations negotiated by the agents at the outset will hopefully avoid a buyer that could stall the closing process.

Leftover Treasures…Stuff…Junk…
I think leftovers are great but only when I’m thinking about tomorrow’s lunch. The stuff a seller didn’t think what to do with is usually not. It may be extra furniture, garden tools, artwork or any other odds and ends. Never assume the new owner will be glad to have these items. Check with the buyers first, and, if they don’t want them, and have them removed before the final walk-thru. I have had buyers delighted when a seller asked if they could leave something behind though. It never hurts to ask.

Damage Caused by Moving
If at all possible, leave yourself a day after everything gets moved out to deal with this one. It’s also your chance to do a deep clean and/or to patch and touchup any wall damage. A moving crew – whether it’s pros you hired or your helpful friends and family – frequently cause some unintended damage. Typically it’s not discovered until the walk-thru and can cause the buyer a lot of distress. Once moving is done, do your own walk-thru to check for damage. Discuss with movers ahead of time the plan for handling any damage, and have a trusted repair person on standby to take care of any issues should they occur.

Speaking of leftovers, there’s a terrible type of leftovers you should never leave behind and that’s your trash! That includes the garbage cans full of trash for the new owner to take out. In some cases, cans belong to the garbage company and stay with the house. If that’s the case, let the buyer know and make sure you’ve moved the cans down to the curb before you drive away for the last time. This includes any trash that didn’t fit in the cans (and has been cleared with the garbage company). If it’s against HOA regulations to put them down early, enlist a neighbor to help. The buyer has enough of their own issues to deal with in setting up their new home. Remember, if you keep your buyer informed, most will think you’re awesome.

Mom Was Right – Clean Up After Yourself!
Here’s another one you’ll want to plan time for. Many, if not most, purchase agreements include something about the level of cleanliness left by the seller in the contract. However, clean means different things to different people. It’s also likely be interpreted differently by the buyer and seller. The term, “broom-swept clean” is frequently used, however, a buyer should be able to expect more than that. At the risk of sounding blunt, never leave your own grime behind. Your buyer will be happy and go to the closing table with confidence when the walk-thru shows a house that shines.

A Happy Closing!
Many buyers are meticulous in their final walk-thru. I am with my buyers! They should be able to expect the home they’re closing on looks as good, or even better than, the one they wrote an offer on. And it’s been a long time since their inspection so sometimes they really start digging into the nooks and crannies.

If you can leave the buyer manuals for the appliance and home systems, information about good service people you’ve used, the neighborhood, etcetera, you will be remembered fondly. You can usually just leave these things on the kitchen counter, but if there’s something you want to explain, just bring it to the closing table.

Make no mistake, the final walk-thru is the last, but still a very important, part of the transaction before closing. Make a great final impression on the buyer and you’ll significantly decrease the chances that the buyer will delay the closing because of unresolved issues. Or worse, let the deal fall apart!

When you’re tired after moving and doing what feels like “a lot of extra work” at the end just keep thinking:

A happy buyer = A smooth closing!