It’s just common sense to take pictures as you do a walkthrough for any place you plan to live in—that’s true not just for buying a home, but even for renting an apartment.
Beyond that common sense though, there are a lot of details and techniques to documenting your future home that might not be obvious. Here are some tips to get the most out of your walkthroughs and make sure you’re documenting the most important features.
1. Start When You’re Shopping, Not Right Before You Buy
You absolutely want to take notes before you buy, but you can make your entire home shopping experience smoother by taking pictures as you begin your hunt.
It’s easier than ever now that everybody has a camera in their phone: take pictures of common spaces like the kitchen and living room, and special features that each home has that you find especially appealing.
You’ll have a much easier time comparing and making decisions about which homes to cross of your list, and which to give a second look as you narrow down your options—and when you’re doing your final walkthrough, you’ll be able to see if anything’s changed that shouldn’t have.
2. Cover the Basics
When you’re ready for a final walkthrough, go in with a checklist of all the features you know you’ll need to check and photograph. That means all the basics like the condition of walls, floors, ceilings, doors and windows, plus any repairs that were still in process the last time you visited to ensure they were completed to your satisfaction.
Give yourself at least half an hour to an hour to complete your walkthrough even with the help of your notes, and schedule the walkthrough for as close to your closing date as possible—24 hours before should be enough.
3. Hit Those Hard To Reach Areas
Don’t stop with just the rooms themselves: check out that attic, those crawl spaces, under the rugs, and make sure all the appliances are in good working order. You can even check electric outlets with a cheap electrical tester.
The same rule applies to the exterior as well. The roof, the gutters, exterior AC units, and many other items are easy to gloss over, but they can certainly have complications for an incautious buyer, and unscrupulous sellers may even have uprooted landscaping features for themselves!
4. Never Close Alone
When you’re doing your final walkthough, you’ll want to have somebody else on hand to verify any problems and act as a witness—for example, the realtor or the inspector.
Make sure you also have any notes you’ve taken to date as well as any contracts and property condition disclosure forms that you can compare against the actual state of the home, and then take pictures of any issues you find that require resolution.