By Nicole Foster, Broker / REALTOR
You have surpassed the challenges of having your offer accepted in this tough market, the final loan conditions and underwriting process. It’s been weeks since you last stepped foot into what will soon be your brand-new home and you’re eager to get your eyes on it again at last. Everything you own is in storage or the moving van and you’ve been living out of boxes for the past few days. Your nutrition and sleep are irregular and likely suffering.
Long days lie ahead of you getting settled in, but you are just so filled with joy and adrenaline that it doesn’t matter. It’s your time now, a moment you’ve waited for and tirelessly worked towards. On the flip side of this very same scenario, you have a seller who has been scrambling for days and weeks preparing for this moment, making decisions large and small that sometimes simply runs short on time.
Ready or not, it’s closing day and the buyers are here for their final walkthrough with still so much to be done and we’re scheduled to close in an hour. Everyone’s thinking “what are we going to do now?” and if you’re anything like me nervous laughter fills the air.
Good communication can help to avoid any unpleasant surprises to the buyer during their final walk through of a property prior to the closing. A perfectly smooth and positive transaction can quickly turn sour and go south in the final hours leading to the closing table when people are exhausted and in the process of moving.
Most contracts to sell a home include a paragraph stating that occupancy shall be given to buyer immediately at the time of closing and the condition of the property is to be broom swept and free from all personal property or debris. A provision usually also allows the buyer to access the property within 24 hours prior to the closing to confirm it’s condition is at present, excepting any reasonable wear and tear.
Sometimes it happens that a buyer arrives to their final walkthrough and discovers there are still belongings of the seller’s left behind or garbage remaining somewhere on the property. The seller may be planning to remove the items after the buyer’s final walkthrough, prior to the closing but in some instances, sellers will ask the buyers if they can return to the property for items after the closing.
All efforts should be made by the seller to have all personal property and debris removed from the four corners of the property prior to the buyer’s final walkthrough.
Sellers should take a photo to share with the buyer of any and all items they would like to “gift” to the buyer(s) and ask if they would like the items to be left at the property. Sometimes sellers think that personal property which came with the house when they bought it should remain at the property, but it is important to check to see if the buyer wants anything left behind.
Do not assume that items pertaining to the home including left over paint, siding or shingles will be wanted or appreciated by the new homeowners and always ask if they would like those types of property related items to be left. They may have plans to change the paint colors, siding or roofing so it’s always best to check by sending a photograph or description to see if the buyers have a use for the items.
Prior to the buyer’s final walk through a fuel reading can be done seven to ten days before the closing. After providing the amount for the fuel proration to the buyer and/or seller it may be shared with the title company handling the closing to be included on the settlement statement. Sometimes the buyer will write a check directly to the seller for the fuel proration.
Depending on the number of heat sources and capacity of tanks, the amount can be significant, so it is important to understand what is due to the seller for any remaining fuel(s). If there are four people looking at a stack of wood, you can expect three different valuations and one person who just wants the wood gone since they are swapping for pellet stove after closing.
Find out what’s happening with the wood pile before the closing and put it in writing and be sure to discuss in advance if the fuel proration will be paid at closing or included on the closing statement.
When buyers and sellers communicate their needs and expectations leading up to the final moments of the closing, no one feels mislead or disappointed, which should be the goal of all parties. <
Nicole Foster is a Broker with Locations Real Estate Group and Windham resident who loves real estate and people. She may be reached at 207-615-7558 or Nicole@locationsinmaine.com.