Just before settlement the your agent will call you to organise what is commonly known as the final inspection. This is a walk-through of the home by the buyer prior to settlement. In WA every buyer is entitles to a final walkthrough before the big day. But is it that simple?
So what exactly is a final inspection?
A final inspection is a what it says, a final walkthrough of the home before settlement day and money changes hands. The purpose of the final inspection is to firstly make sure that the property is in the same condition as when you purchased it as well as to ensure that any agreed works have been carried out and finalised.
Buyers are often pressed for time as the day draws near for settlement, which means buyers can be tempted to pass on the final walk-through. It is never a good idea to forgo the final inspection as once settlement has happened it is very difficult to have issues addressed.
Final inspections are not home inspections. It’s not a time to reopen negotiations with the seller to do repairs. If there are any items of concern then they need to be specified at the time of negotiation on the offer and acceptance. Any items of maintenance that were in existence at the time of purchase are not required by the seller to be attended to.
In Western Australia, Real Estate transactions are conducted under the guidelines of the Joint Forms and General Condition for the Sale of Land (2018). The Joint Forms accompany any sale and your real estate agent will have given you a copy. The joint forms specify the legal requirements around final inspections.
When do we do the final inspection?
The final inspection can be carried out anywhere from a few hours to five days before settlement. In fact real estate law specifies that it is conducted up to 5 days before settlement, on a business day and between the hours of 9 and 4pm. Of course this is not always practical or possible, so you can negotiate a different time but it needs to be with the agreement of both the buyer and the seller.
It’s always a good idea to try and conduct it at least a few days before so that if any items need attending to there is sufficient time and it does not delay settlement
How many people can I bring ?
From electrical sockets to floor coverings, there are several things to check during a final inspection – so as a buyer, you may be tempted to bring along as many people as you can to make sure you don’t miss anything important.
However, the Joint Form of General Conditions (the document that governs every contract in WA) specifies that:
“The Buyer: may be accompanied by 2 persons on an inspection”
So unless the contract specifies that you are allowed more than the usual amount of guests, only two people can come along with you. For the vast majority of property transactions, this is appropriate. Too many cooks can spoil the broth – or in the case of housing inspections, too many people can cause confusion.
What am I checking for at the final inspection?
What you are checking for at the final inspection will depend on exactly how your contract was written and what conditions were included.
If there were special items of maintenance that the seller agreed to attending to, then the final inspection is the time to verify they have been done.
If the contract specifies that all plumbing, gas and electrical must be in working order, then you are entitled to check all those items and have they fixed before settlement if any are found not to be working.
If there was a structural or termite report conducted on the house – any issues that were required to be rectified may also be checked at this time.
Some of the general items that can be checked (dependant on conditions) are:
Electrical & Gas
- Check all light switches work
- Test all powers points
- Check all inbuilt appliances
- Oven / hot plates
- Air conditioner
- Exhaust fans
- Ensure hot water system is functioning
- Turn on 2 or 3 internal taps and ensure sufficient pressure
- Flush toilets
- Run showers
- Partially fill all sinks and troughs. Remove plug and make sure they drain properly.
- Check operation of bore pump
- Check pool equipment
- Check reticulation system
- Request copies of instruction manuals
Lessons to learn?
The lesson out of all final inspections is make sure that you inspect the home thoroughly before writing a contract and also make sure that anything that is bothering you is written into the contract.
Once the ink is dry and settlement is approaching it’s too late. The final inspection is to check the home is as it was when purchased and check on agreed work – not reopen negotiations!
Your settlement agent is a good point of contact for final inspections and many have pre-prepared checklists that they will give you to assist on the day. Good real estate agents should also have these checklists and should be able to guide you as to what you should be checking before the buyers come back through.
At the end of the day there is nothing to be scared of. Be open and transparent and nothing with come back to haunt you. If something needs to be fixed – attend to it. Buyers just want what they have paid for, as does anyone in a transaction this big!