Blog :: 07-2015

The Final Walkthrough: 7 Essentials to Check

The Final Walkthrough: 7 Essentials to Check-CB Plourde

The process of buying each new home may differ on the details, but there are several major milestones you can anticipate every time, such as the first showing, the offer, the home inspection and the loan arrangements. Each milestone passed brings you that much closer to the finish line called home ownership.

But before you make that final sprint for the closing, make sure you clear one of the most important milestones: The final walkthrough.

The final walkthrough is your last chance to inspect the home and exterior property before they - and any problems they contain - become yours. This is when you’ll want to check for the completion of agreed-upon repairs, any changes made since the initial home inspection, and signs of new damage or destruction.

Here are seven essentials to check during the final walkthrough:

Plumbing:

Flush all toilets. Turn on all faucets, including hot water, and run for at least a minute. Run the shower, fill the tub with an inch or so of water, and let it drain. Don’t forget washer hookups and outside spigots as well. Look for signs of plumbing problems that may have been previously missed or developed since the home inspection (especially if the home has been vacated).

Dampness and wet spots:

Check the basement, walls and ceilings for any signs of wetness. Water can come from a leaky pipe or roof, so look carefully. Check under the sinks and behind toilets. The best method is to keep the lights dim and use a flashlight, as water will reflect the light.

Lights:

Turn on every light switch. If a light doesn’t work, make a note to find out why. It’s usually just a burned-out bulb, but it could also be a sign of faulty wiring.

Heat, air conditioning, & appliances that come with the house:

Activate the heat and air conditioning, in turn, and make sure they work properly. Make sure the service tags are marked, or that you know when they were last serviced. Check that the oven and all range burners turn on. Make sure the refrigerator and freezer(s) are cold. 

Doors & windows:

Doors and windows should open freely and latch securely. You should have, or know the location of, storm doors or screens. Make sure all doors lock and unlock easily. Inspect the frame around each one, especially in a home that is vacant, for signs of break-ins.

Pests:

Signs of pests can vary, but some of the more obvious ones include rodent droppings in cupboards and under sinks, freshly dug holes around the house and sawdust from chewing insects in out-of-the-way places.

Trash & hazardous materials:

Old cans of paint can be a pain to dispose of, so most homeowners leave them behind when they sell the house. The same is true of old building materials. The seller may think they’re doing the buyer a favor by leaving behind all those scraps of plywood, but if you don’t want them, you’re the one who is going to get stuck paying for their disposal.

The final walkthrough is a very important step of the buying process and one that the buyer should not do in a hurry. Coldwell Banker Plourde Real Estate will help guide you through the entire buying process, including the final walkthrough, so you’re not left with last-minute surprises. Contact us today. To view all of our blog posts - click here.

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Your Top 5 Real Estate Questions Answered

Top 5 Real Estate Questions

Whether you’re selling your home, buying a home for the first time or upgrading to a new home, the process can be daunting. Here are answers to five of the most commonly asked real estate questions.

1. Which season is the best to sell my home?

This question gets asked most often by people trying to be strategic about putting their house on the market. The general rule is to open your listing in mid-April to get a sale in May or June. In general, the real estate market slows in the winter, swings up in the spring, lulls a bit in the summer and picks back up in the fall. However, you don’t need to plan your life around these small fluctuations.

The best time to put your home up for sale is a) when you’re ready to sell, b) when your home is ready to be presented in the most attractive manner, and c) when the buyer is shopping. You can’t control that last one, so work on the first two and sell your home when you’re ready.

2. How do I shop for a real estate agent?

Start by asking friends and neighbors for recommendations, and ask them why they would recommend a particular agency or agent. Look around the area and see who is working in the region.

Once you have a few names, do some research. Look up their listings and see what they specialize in, how long their listings are on the market, and whether they’re full-time or part-time agents. Then interview potential agents to ensure they will be a good fit. Meet them in person, preferably outside their offices. Ask lots of questions during the interviews, and rate their answers. Some agents may only have a limited amount of time to meet with you - don’t let this be a deal-breaker, as a good agent will be busy. But do watch for signs that you are not being listened to.

3. How do I get the best mortgage rate?

There are many variables to getting a good mortgage rate, but there are three things you can do before you start shopping for a home to get the best possible deal from the lender:

  1. Improve your credit rating. You can do this by eliminating debt, keeping your credit card balances low or at zero, and paying your bills on time. The better your rating, the more options you’ll have when shopping for a mortgage.
  2. Increase your down payment. The less you have to borrow, the less risk the banks have to take, and the better your rate can be. A bigger down payment is always a good recommendation.
  3. Try to match your mortgage to your plans for living in the home. A 30-year fixed rate mortgage may look more appealing with lower payments, but if you only plan to be in the house for five to 10 years, you may end up paying much more in interest.

4. What assistance is there for first-time home buyers?

While shopping for a mortgage rate, ask about options for first-time home buyers, as the lender may have loans that otherwise wouldn’t be available to you. Another option is the FHA 203(b) loan, which is backed by the federal government and can be a good choice for buyers with less than ideal credit and little cash to put down for payment.

MaineHousing offers the First Home program to first-time home buyers through the Maine State Housing Authority. There are also various discount programs for veterans, police and fire personnel, EMTs, teachers and health-care workers.

5. How do I prepare my home for sale?

Your house needs to be clean, smell good, and as be as “neutral” in color as possible. Pack up and store any personal items that you can live without. Take down knickknacks and photos that give your home the individual touch. Buyers need to be able to envision themselves in your space.

Clean up the yard and give the property as much curb appeal as possible. Don’t start any major inside or outside projects unless they’ll be 100 percent complete when it comes time to show your home. But do fix anything that needs to be fixed. A leaky faucet may not be a deal breaker, but you don’t want to indicate a general lack of care.

Have more questions, or need more clarification on the questions above? Contact our office today for all your real estate needs. To view additional blog posts - click here.