A thorough walk-through
Green suggests including your home inspector if you have concerns about the property condition.
"Don't be afraid to bring your home inspector back to your walk-through," Green says. "The charge for revisit is usually 25 (percent) to 50 percent of the original fee, which could be worth it if you want to make sure everything has been repaired to your satisfaction."
Gianos says buyers should be ready for their walk-through with an information packet, including the seller's property condition disclosure form and the home inspector's report, to see that all repairs have been made as negotiated.
"If you choose not to bring in a home inspector, you should turn everything on and off such as appliances, lights, heating and air-conditioning systems," Green says. "You can pick up an electrical tester at a hardware store for $1.25 and make sure all the electrical outlets are working."
Petrillo recommends requesting receipts from the sellers for any items that have been repaired, because this proves the work was done and gives you contact information for the contractors.
If your walk-through reveals an issue that has not been discovered before, or one that hasn't been resolved satisfactorily, your action should depend on how serious the problem is.
"First, you should look at the big picture," Petrillo says. "You are probably getting a great home that you want to buy at a great price. Are you willing to jeopardize that for a $200 item?"
If the problem is serious, Gianos recommends contacting your settlement attorney immediately. "Your lawyer should contact the seller's lawyer to work out an agreement before you get to the settlement table," she says.
Petrillo stresses the importance of working things out amicably.
"If something wasn't done according to agreement, you can ask the attorney to escrow some amount of money, including what is needed for the repair, from the sales proceeds with an agreement in writing to release the funds as soon as the work is finished," Petrillo says.
Green says buyers' only leverage is "signing on the dotted line."
"You can ask for a credit from the seller, a side document to deal with the problem or an escrow of the sales proceeds, but if you and the seller cannot reach an agreement, then the last course of action would be refusing to close," says Green. "It's important to think about how much it could cost you to delay moving or to delay the closing. You may be better off just taking care of the problem yourself, especially if it is under $1,000."
Buyers of a foreclosure, short sale or any property sold as is should also do a careful walk-through on closing day. Even these properties are sold as is at a particular time such as the inspection date or the contract ratification date, Green says. If the property has deteriorated since that time or appliances are missing, the seller should be required to make amends.