By Rich Lopez

Local professionals weigh in on what to keep in mind doing a walk-through before buying or leasing that new home

Finding your new home is one of life’s major events. Buyers and renters want to go in to their potential abode with confidence that it can become home sweet home. But sometimes, the small things that might get overlooked could become big problems. We asked area experts, "What should people keep in mind while doing a walk-through before finalizing on that new house, condo or apartment?"

Weston Pugh

Weston Pugh, RE/Max Urban
When it comes to leasing, whether from an individual or company, you have to protect yourself by filling out completely and returning the lease inventory and condition form by the specified due date. When it comes to the end of your lease, this form is what your landlord will use to determine how much of your deposit you get back or if you owe money.

With regards to purchasing a home or condo, you have three walk-throughs. Your first walk is with your inspector during the option period; the second is to verify the repairs you request have been completed, and this should be done seven to 10 days before closing; the final walk should be the day of closing just to make sure the property is in the proper condition.

Mark Thacker, Arrow Electric Service
We do a lot of inspections and repairs. Something we’ve been addressing more is surge protection. With all the new fancy electronics, it’s not a bad idea to consider putting in a whole house surge protection or having it done by the sellers. A few things we commonly see are lack of GFCI (ground-fault circuit interrupter) protection, mostly those push-button plugs in kitchens and bathrooms. And we like people to be aware of the hazards of outdated panel boxes, and we’re finding that those get overlooked easily. Considering what all these can protect, it’s like an extra insurance on the house.

Lori Ericsson

Lori Ericsson, David Griffin & Co. Realtors
Prior to closing, I encourage all my buyers to take advantage of the opportunity to do a final walk-through of the property they are purchasing to make sure all agreed upon repairs and conditions have been met prior to closing. It is the final opportunity to verify that all appliances, fixtures and non-realty items remain with the property and to make sure the property is in relatively clean condition. At this point, the buyer has an enormous amount of leverage, in that he can delay closing until all conditions are met. Once a property closes, there is much less motivation for a seller to cooperate.

When working with lease property, the walk-through tends to happen once my client moves in. All tenants should be provided a property and condition form that enables them to identify any issues to be remedied. It also provides an opportunity to document any defective property conditions when moving in so they are not held accountable for correcting an issue that existed prior to them occupying the space. I strongly encourage my clients to be as thorough as possible for their protection.

Ryan Baldwin

Ryan Baldwin, ilume Management Services
There are quite a few questions that are important to ask prior to leasing, in my opinion. People need to make informed decisions based on what is important to them. For example, many times I have seen over the years where people want to pay a certain rent, but not once do they think about the other costs that factor in. They need to understand what an average utility bill is for the particular unit type they are looking at, for example. It’s not only the rent amount they need to look at but the total expenditures to live in a particular place. Other things people should ask about are policies of the individual property in which they decide to lease. People often times never think to ask specifics on policies until after they move in (how many cars are allowed, how many pets, etc).

Ted Ellis, The Michael Group
The primary thing I think you would look for is foundation or settlement issues. Whether a condo or a house, they move around. There’s hardly any house ever that doesn’t have some type of foundation issue. The black clay or soil that most homes sit upon expands and contracts with the seasons and weather and cause a house to shift. Large cracks over doorways, doors that don’t open and close properly, large gaps around windows outside, especially in older homes, can be a big clue.

Hire a licensed inspector and things shouldn’t be missed. The inspector goes through in detail and comes up with a report of things not up to code. Plus, they are licensed through the Texas Real Estate Commission and are also aware of rules and regulations that may have changed.

Keith Yonick, Prudential Texas Properties
Iwould never want to schedule a walk-through far in advance of closing. In Texas, a promulgated form is used but not mandatory — just smart.Our company requires one, and I think one should be conductedon closing days ideally after the seller has moved out. I rarely do them more thana fewhours before closing even if the property is occupied and always with a licensed home inspector. Agents should always be present at the final walk-through.

Much can happen in an occupied (or even un-occupied) home between Thursday and Monday.I use a checklist to make sure items are still present that were noted on the first page of the contract for a purchaser.For a lease, there is an inventory list. I would ask the tenant to walk through and note items that need to be addressed. I would not move in until all items are addressed. It is a good idea to request a professional and bonded company clean the property. I’m always striving to provide clients with a stress-free, guided real estate buying or sellingexperience and a walk-through is the final step to achievement of happy home ownership.

Dave Herbster, Rainbow Repair and Remodeling
Some things are different when you are either buying or leasing. In this day, take pictures, of any damage you notice. In real estate, and even if you’re renting, everything is negotiable. A prospective seller isn’t under any obligation, but it doesn’t hurt you to ask for something you want. Also, check the plumbing; look for drips, leaks and check the hardware. They don’t last forever. Check for expensive things like the roof — its age, the number of layers on it. Too many can hurt a foundation. Air conditioning units over 10 years old are probably going to cost twice as much to run compared to new energy efficient ones. And don’t forget to be aware of your surroundings. Check out your neighbors too.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 5, 2010

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