Carol Staab
Associate Broker
Douglas Elliman
111 Fifth Avenue
New York , NY 10003

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Closing on Your Manhattan Apartment? Here’s Your Must-Have Checklist!

Manhattan Apartment Walk-through Pre-Closing Checklist

Most contracts give the buyer the right to inspect the Manhattan apartment within 48 hours prior to closing. Most contracts provide that the buyer will accept the condition of the Manhattan apartment at closing as existed on the day of the contract. It is important to inspect the apartment to be certain that you are getting what is stated in the contract.

Most inspections are done with you and the brokers. In the vast majority of the time this type of inspection is sufficient enough to identify any changes in the apartment since the contract was signed. The rule of thumb is if you have been satisfied with your broker’s performance throughout the process then you can rely on the broker to assist you with the walk-through.

Special situations where an architect, engineer or contractor make sense:

  • New construction where there is a contractual obligation for you to complete a punch list. This punch list is delivered at the closing and is signed off by the sponsor and the buyer. The best person for a new construction walk-through is a contractor who have vast experience in residential construction and renovation.
  • Seller Repairs – For example if a seller had a leak repaired you need a professional with you to determine whether the leak has repaired correctly and any damage fixed.
  • Environmental Issues – Mold is one big environmental issue that can result from water damage. If this condition is discovered an environmental specialist needs to inspect the apartment.
  • Mechanical systems – Any plumbing, electrical or HVAC repairs or replacements must be conducted by a professional in that specialty.

WALK-THROUGH CHECKLIST

  1. Test all appliances, air conditioning or heating units, plumbing and light fixtures.
  2. If the apartment has hardwood floors make sure that the floors weren’t damaged with the seller’s move
  3. Apartment should be delivered “broom clean” and vacant. If the seller has done an inadequate job of cleaning prior to the closing the seller should reimburse you at closing for the cost of having to hire someone to clean your apartment before you move in.
  4. Seller should be obligated to remove any unwanted personal property left behind. Items that should have been left but were removed must be adjusted for at closing.
  5. Make sure you check all walls, ceilings and floors for water damage caused by leaks

What to do if you find problems!

Minor problems such as scratches on the floor, and air conditioner that doesn’t work, a removed towel rack or previously unseen imperfections can be resolved at the closing table. The seller will need to agree to pay for these items at the closing. In some cases, an escrow of funds (held by one of the attorneys) will be agreed to until the seller fulfils the obligation. These situations usually get resolved and everyone walks away from the table relatively happy.

  • Major problems require more caution in finding the remedy If there is a serious leak, damage due to fire, or some material change in the condition of the apartment the parties must work out a more significant escrow of funds to ensure that the problem is fixed by the seller by a reasonable time. When a major problem happens usually the buyer prefers to be in charge of having the work done. As long as the buyer and buyer’s attorney are satisfied with that result the closing can be completed.
  • Undisclosed problems – You should consult with your attorney if a problem arises after the closing. Each situation is different and must be evaluated. Analysis of the seller’s liability can get technical and review of the contract is required. If it is a minor cost say $1,000 it may not be worth the time, effort and cost to make the seller do the right thing.

At the end of the day most walk-throughs go well and the transaction closes. It is very rare for a problem to not get resolved at the closing table.

Make sure to read my other essential steps for buying your Manhattan apartment in my blog.