The Final Walk-Through Inspection
Is It A Mere Formality Or
An Important Step In The Home Buying Process?
The Merger Doctrine
The merger doctrine is an important legal principle that may apply once you accept the deed for your new home.
Basically, the merger doctrine says that once the Purchaser accepts the deed from the Seller, the Seller’s obligations under the contract of sale are merged into the deed and the Seller’s obligations to the Purchaser shall be governed solely by the terms of the deed. In other words, once you accept the deed, the contract of sale essentially disappears and, as a result, the terms in the contract may no longer be enforceable.
So while the final walk-through inspection is typically a very brief visit to the home on the day of the closing, the fact that the contract will disappear once you accept the deed, and the terms of that contract will no longer be enforceable after the closing, makes the walk-through inspection an important activity and more than a ceremonial formality.
OBJECTIVES OF THE WALK-THROUGH INSPECTION
To verify that the Seller has vacated the premises.
If you accept ownership and the seller has NOT moved out, essentially you have become a landlord with a tenant living in your home. Unfortunately, once this happens, your only legal recourse to evict the former owner from your house may be by means of a landlord/tenant proceeding.
To verify that the Seller’s stuff is no longer in the home.
Typically, a contract states that the premises are to be delivered broom clean. If you return to the home after the closing and the seller has abandoned all of his junk in what is now your home, you will have to dispose of the former owner’s junk at your expense.
To verify that there is no damage that was hidden from view because the Seller’s furniture and personal property were in the way.
It is impossible for you (or your home inspector) to inspect a home completely while the home is chock full of the seller’s personal property. Consequently, once the seller’s personal property & furniture have been removed, you might notice damage that was previously hidden from view. (i.e. a hole in a wall behind a bookcase, damage to a floor beneath a carpet, etc.)
To verify that there is no new damage.
In most instances, a significant period of time elapses between the time a Purchaser last visits a home and the day of the closing. During that period of time something may have occurred that resulted in new damage to the home (i.e. the movers might have damaged something while removing the seller’s furnishings). While the contract may indicate you are accepting the homes “as is”, if you observe new damage, arrangements will have to be made at the closing to have the damage repaired at the seller’s expense.
To verify that everything that is supposed to be included with the sale of the home is in the home and that it all functions properly.
Verify that the light fixtures, ceiling fans, window treatments, appliances, etc. that were itemized in the contract as part of the sale are still in the home and verify that the appliances and all mechanical systems are functioning properly.
TIP: Schedule the walk-through inspection as close to the closing as is reasonably possible. If time permits, conduct the walk-through inspection an hour or two before the closing.
© Copyright 2010 Bill Boeckelman Publications