Anyone who’s ever waited until the night before it was due to draft a term paper, put off calculating income tax until the last minute or delayed a dental visit until a root canal was indicated knows something about procrastination.
For one thing or another, I’m sure we all have had at least a brush or, more likely, head-on collision with procrastination.
But the one situation in which procrastination is mandated centers on the pre-closing walk-through that is as much a part of the purchasing ritual as handing over a deposit check.
Delaying that visit until the eleventh hour to the property that is about to become your home is the perfect opportunity to feel good about being bad. That’s because anything can happen to an apartment or single-family home up to the moment you are handed its keys at the end of your closing.
It doesn’t take a vivid imagination to come up with spontaneous developments that could prove to be costly or even incurable, to wit:
- A short-circuit that causes a small or, worse, big fire;
- Leaky plumbing that harms a ceiling or even floods the property;
- Seller’s second thoughts about an item or items that were to be included in the transaction;
- Damage by burglars;
- Appliances that go on the fritz, as they do, without notice.
The most dramatic illustration that I recall of the importance of my advice here occurred for a house that clients of mine purchased in suburban Washington, D.C.
We had waited until the morning of the closing to conduct our final inspection. The night before, a rainstorm of typical proportions swept across the area.
Already, you’re thinking of potential consequences, right? The one that affected the closing was the toppling of a large tree branch, which damaged the property in a relatively minor but still financially signficant way.
Had I not insisted on conducting the walk-through just before the closing, My clients and I never would have known about the problems that had to be addressed. Score one for the paranoid.
At the settlement table, the seller and listing broker could hardly argue that the event hadn’t changed the value of the property. We had no trouble coming to terms with an agreement to remedy the situation — without my clients having to spend a dime, pursue a subsequent negotiation or even lodge a lawsuit against the owners.
My advice: When it comes to a walk-through, take your time.
Licensed Associate Real Estate Broker
Senior Vice President
Charles Rutenberg Realty
127 E. 56th Street
New York, NY 10022