Can a Homebuyer Back Out of a Final Walkthrough? (2023)

In the process of selling a house, the final walkthrough can feel a bit like a wild card for both sellers and buyers. Final walkthroughs before real estate closing give buyers the opportunity to inspect a home before completing the purchase. It’s not an official inspection, but it’s the buyers’ last chance to ensure the house is in a good condition and confirm that agreed-upon repairs have been made and there are no new issues.

Usually, only the buyer and the buyer’s agent attend the final walkthrough to give the buyer the freedom to inspect the property at their leisure. While final walkthroughs usually go off without a hitch, problems can occur. This can cause headaches for both the seller and buyer, delay closing, or even kill the deal altogether. This is why many sellers want to know…

Can a Homebuyer Back Out of a Final Walkthrough?

The answer is yes – a homebuyer can legally walk away from a real estate deal after the final walkthrough. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR) report,around 5% of real estate contracts are terminated before closing.

Sometimes, buyers back out due to final walkthrough problems, but there could be other reasons including being unable to secure financing, the results of a title survey or home inspection, and unexpected appraisal value. If these reasons for backing out are clearly outlined in the contract, homebuyers can back out penalty-free.

However, there are consequences of backing out from closing on a home in some situations that are not covered by contingencies like getting cold feet. When the sales contract is signed, buyers put down a deposit known as “earnest money”. If the buyers change their minds about a particular house due to cold feet, you as the seller will get to keep the deposit.

Tips for Sellers to Ensure a Successful Final Walkthrough

When selling your home, you can always avoid problems after the real estate final walkthrough. The best way to ensure you’re fully prepared for the final walkthrough as the seller is to read your purchase agreement. Terms of the agreement will lay out what you need to do for the home sale to be successful in terms of the house’s conditions, repairs to be made, and items to be left with the property. Here are some of the best tips for sellers to guarantee that this important step of selling a house off without a hitch.

1) Make Sure the House is “Broom Clean”

It’s your obligation to make sure the house is “broom clean”. This means the real estate property has to be cleaned, swept, vacuumed and cleared of rubbish and clutter. The homebuyer will likely do a deep clean after moving in, but you should still make sure you aren’t leaving them a dirty home. Another note is to make sure the bags of trash, compost, recycling, and debris aren’t on the side of the lawn on the day of the final walkthrough. Your best bet as the seller is to take care of your garbage pickup the week prior to the real estate final walkthrough to maintain the property’s curb appeal.

Related: Home Selling Process: 8 Steps You Can’t Skip

2) Don’t Remove Items Attached to the House

Generally speaking, anything that’s attached to the home has to stay with the home after moving out. This includes items like window treatments, light fixtures, water heater and HVAC system, large appliances like the oven range and refrigerator, and anything else that’s bolted, nailed down, or mounted. If you want to take any of these items with you after selling your house, you have to negotiate that directly with buyers and get it into the contract.

Otherwise, if the buyer arrives for the final walkthrough before closing to see something is missing without getting their permission, this would delay the closing or cause them to walk away. Your real estate agent will help you understand what stays with the home and what you’ve agreed to in the contract during contract negotiations. Following these terms will, therefore, assure that things go smoothly during the walkthrough.

3) Don’t Leave Anything Buyers Haven’t Agreed to Keep

Can a Homebuyer Back Out of a Final Walkthrough? (1)

Just like you can’ take certain items, you shouldn’t just leave things that buyers clearly don’t want. For example, don’t just leave your old yearbooks or holiday decorations behind in a box somewhere in the house and expect the buyers to just deal with it or hope that they would be in a rush and wouldn’t notice. Doing so will cost you – you’ll need to fix the situation by agreeing to leave some cash on the counter or paying to have a contractor come out and deal with the issue after closing. So, don’t sweep stuff under the rug when cleaning the house. Instead, be prepared for the homebuyer to check the garage, attic, basement, drawers, and closets during the final walkthrough. If you’ve left a mess for them to clean up, this could be a reason for them to walk out of the deal.


4) Take Care of Any Agreed-Upon Repairs

After conducting a home inspection, the homebuyer might negotiate certain repairs. If you agreed to complete those repairs before closing on the home, getting them done in a timely manner is necessary for a successful final walkthrough and, as a result, a successful closing. Mae sure to be communicative about the repairs be upfront about if there are delays. Furthermore, it’s best for sellers to have the receipts detailing each project. This way, if the homebuyer wanted validation during the walkthrough, you will be prepared to confirm with proof that you’ve fulfilled your part of the bargain and that the work was taken care of and when.

5) Hold Off on Shutting off Utilities

One of the most common mistakes when selling a house is shutting off the utilities too soon and, hence, leaving a home with no electricity and gas during the final walkthrough. If you do that, the buyer won’t know if it’s simply the power got turned off or if there’s a short circuit somewhere or a bigger issue which would make the property in a different condition than when they had their inspection. Moreover, you never know if your closing day could be delayed a day or even a week. Remember that you’re responsible for keeping up the house until you officially hand over the keys. In general, the best course of action is for sellers to hold off on canceling utilities until after closing on a home.

6) Make Sure Appliances Are Working

During the final walkthrough, homebuyers will want to make sure that the real estate property is move-in ready. Therefore, it’s recommended that sellers make sure appliances in the house are in good working condition to avoid any problems that might delay the real estate closing. Here’s a checklist of things to do and look for before buyers arrive at the final walkthrough:

  • Turn all light switches on and off to make sure lights and ceiling fans are working
  • Run all sink and bath faucets and check for any leaks
  • Test all of the kitchen appliances and garbage disposal
  • Test all of the electrical outlets
  • Run the heater and air conditioner
  • Turn on and test the fireplace
  • Open and close all windows and doors
  • Flush toilets to check for leaks or problems
  • Run the exhaust fans in the bathrooms and kitchen
  • Inspect the walls, flooring, and ceilings.
  • Check exterior for damage or new cosmetic issues

Related: The Ultimate Checklist for Selling a House

The Bottom Line

The real estate final walkthrough gives homebuyers the chance to make sure everything’s in order before the window for negotiations closes for good. And though final walkthrough problems can occur, they can also be avoided. Having a strong understanding of these common problems and what can buyers demand at a final walkthrough can help. So, work with your real estate agentto make sure you’ve upheld your end of the bargain in the contract. Next thing you know, you’ll be signing the closing papers with no delays or last-minute complaints.

For more information and tips on how to sell a house, keep reading our sellers’ blogs!

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Eman Hamed

Eman is a Content Writer at Mashvisor. With a focus on market reports, she enjoys researching the state of the real estate market in different cities across the US. Eman also writes about trends, forecasts, and tips for beginner investors to gain the confidence and knowledge they need to make wise decisions.

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