Final Inspections – 5 Simple Things You May Expect

Final Inspection before Settlement with Thrive and Derick Pitt

The property you’ve sold is settling soon and your real estate gives you a call a few weeks prior. “When’s a good day and time to schedule a final inspection with you and the buyers?”

At this stage, you’re probably feeling extremely stressed, anxious or very excited (maybe all three) and you are frantically thinking about packing up all your belongings you may have accumulated along the way and looking forward to your new journey, trying to imagine how it will all unfold.

It is human nature to let go of emotional ties to your property once a sale or finance goes through. However, it is in everyone’s best interest to keep your eyes on the prize and follow through with the selling process and your contractual obligations. The home you cared for all these years, after all, will become someone else’s. In their shoes, you’d want to make sure everything is working correctly as per the contract of the sale in order to avoid holdups prior to settlement.

Purpose of a Final Inspection

The purpose of a final inspection is to:
1) Satisfy the purchasers that your property is in the exact same state and condition as it was immediately prior to the contract being signed. Modern contracts will also require that all electrical, plumbing, gas, reticulation, pool, spa and their related equipment are in good working order, unless noted otherwise on the contract; and

2) Ensure that the seller complies with any contractual obligations within the contract

The following are generally what you can expect during a final inspection:

1) Parties in Attendance

Although the Seller is not legally required to attend a final inspection, we at Thrive recommend it as best practice. In a perfect world, you would have the following people attend.
1) The Seller (or their representative),
2) the Real Estate Agent and
3) the Buyer/s (or their representative).

As a Seller or nominated representative, you can field questions and take accountability for non working items. The Real Estate Agent is the liaising link ensuring the inspection is carried out fully. They act as a conduit between Seller and Buyer and their settlement agents. As a buyer, your role is to ensure you are satisfied that the electricals, plumbing, locks and that other equipment works as it should. Occasionally, when a Seller or Buyer is from interstate for example, and has no local representative, the real estate agent can represent them.

*TIP – Buyers are allowed to bring up to two additional people to the final inspection. Buyers, make sure whomever you bring is aware of the point of the exercise and their role. This is not a building inspection! There are very clear parameters, and that does not include the paint job or window treatments.

As final inspections boil down to the simple fact of whether an item is working/not working, we recommend keeping buyer group numbers to the bare minimum. If you are a single buyer and not confident, by all means, bring along a friend or family member if you wish. Keeping in mind that smaller groups create a better environment in which to focus.

2) A Series of Demonstrations

Buyers can choose to test electrics, etc. themselves or in tandem with the agent. More commonly, the real estate agent will run through the rooms, one by one, switching on lights, fans, air conditioning units, security alarm systems (if stated in the contract), etc. In the kitchen, they’ll make sure the oven heats as it should and that the stove top activates.

Outdoor spas and pool filtration systems will be running and water features switched on. Outdoor heating, electric vergolas, etc. will all be demonstrated.

Hot water taps will also be tested and run until the hot water comes through. The seller or real estate agent should have the keys to access the home made available to them and opening of the front door/garage demonstrated.  

The great thing about an inspection is that any questions a buyer may have as to how things work inside or outside the house, can easily be explained by the seller.

Keep Expectations Realistic

An unrealistic expectation many buyers will have is to think things will run as NEW. Chances are, the home being bought was built ten, fifteen, twenty, maybe even thirty years ago or more. Doors may be rickety, locks are going to catch or jam and that is all par for the course. As long as it’s possible to open a door, even if you have to use a bit of elbow grease, the litmus test is passed. As a buyer, don’t expect old things to work like new!

*NOTE: It will be written in the contract if anything isn’t in working order and will remain so at settlement. Typically, these will include old alarm systems, intercoms, water features, and more. Contractual items not in working order will be pointed out during the inspection and not demonstrated.

*TIP for Buyers: Bring with you a phone charger to test ALL the power sockets inside the house with. You’ll avoid post inspection regret down the track should one of the sockets not work. 

3) Two Heads are Better Than One – Quick Problem Solving

Testing light switches during a final inspection

Here’s a scenario: As a group you make your way to the backyard.  While the reticulation system is being demonstrated, you notice that the upper garden bed retic isn’t working as it should be. A scenario like this is when it’s fantastic to have all parties together. You can quickly discuss fixes and agree on timelines for which these items can be fixed by the Seller.

According to the 2018 Joint Form of General Conditions for the Sale of Land, a final inspection should be conducted within 5 working days of settlement occurring. Alternatively, the Buyer and Seller can mutually agree to a time prior to this. If an issue or repair is needed, five business days may not give a Seller enough time to rectify it. Especially if it’s super involved or relies on trades availability. However, when all parties are present, it gives an opportunity to discuss and agree on a realistic timeframe to provide a fix. All items requiring attention and their estimated timeframes will be noted on the final inspection sheet.   

Testing equipment hot water at home inspection

4) Instruction Manuals

Having all parties present at a property during final inspection can alleviate all the “how to” questions buyers may have. Sellers can point out small nuances in the way equipment works, the trick to opening the front door, etc. These nuances often cause stress when buyers first move into their new home. Having Sellers present at the final inspection, goes a long way to diminishing angst.

*TIP for Sellers: Make sure you leave as much information behind as possible in the way of instruction manuals for your buyers as reference material. This can be operating manuals for ovens, pool pumps, split system air conditioning, etc.

5) Signing Off

Once the inspection is complete, your settlement agent will ask you to sign off that everything was satisfactory. If there were any outstanding items communicated by the real estate agent, it is the settlement agent’s responsibility to follow this up with the Seller.

Generally, inspections are very routine, and while some items needing attention can crop up, if the preparation is done prior, every body will be happy!

For more information on REIWA’s guidelines to what to expect at settlement and final inspections, visit: What condition should the property be in at settlement (;

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